Hone Your Skills-Set through Online Classes

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We are living in an age where there is an unprecedented amount of free information and courses, therefore you can easily hone your skills-set through online classes. There is an inordinate amount of MOOCs (massive open online courses), but where do you start? Which courses should you take to hone your skills-set? To ensure that you are not overwhelmed, there is a simple process that you can follow.Little Girl Sleeping While Reading

Needs Assessment

How do you know what your true needs are? Review the way that you perform your job, what skills are you lacking that prevent you from performing your responsibilities effectively? Make note of them. Conduct your Personal SWOT Analysis (Please read When Was the Last Time You Conducted a SWOT Analysis?). Who are the thought leaders in your industry, and where do they say the industry is heading? What skills are required to allow you to take a leadership role so you are positioned well for the changes? Wayne Gretzky, the King of Hockey was exceedingly successful because he knew where the puck would land in the rink, do you know where the puck is going to land in your field?

Courses to Take

To hone your skills-set through online classes requires that you take appropriate courses. You can do this by using the results of the needs assessment to guide you. As a reminder, studies show that you forget most of what you learn within an hour of learning the information (Please read How to Improve Learning and How to Remember What You Read), therefore you need to perform actions that aid remembering.

  1. If you are interested in learning how to program, Codecademy is a great option. If you are interested in other computer science courses, Udacity is an option.
  2. Want to learn another language, Duolingo is an option if you are interested in learning English, Spanish, French, Italian, German or Portuguese. Richard Byrne in his blog post, “10 Good Sites & Apps for Learning a New Language,” gives you some additional options.
  3. Open Culture offers 725 free online courses from top universities. The courses are grouped by disciplines, and there is also a search functionality, so you do not waste time trying to find the right courses to hone your skills-set. Open Culture also has a section where it groups all the business courses in one place.
  4. Mindboot allows you to access the major MOOCs platform from one spot, and gives you many options for courses offered. You will also find MOOCs on Open Culture.
  5. Charles W. Eliot, an influential Harvard president in his time, was reported to say, “If you were to spend just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, a quantity that could fit on a five foot shelf, you could give yourself a proper liberal education.” Surprising as it may sound to you, you can acquire new skills and hone other important skills by reading the classics – The Harvard Classics: A Free, Digital Collection.

The Work Plan

As mentioned before, you have access to an inordinate amount of information.  According to IBM, “every day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Don’t drown in the sea of big data. There may be instances when you do not have to take an entire course. Before you take any course or read any of the books included in the Harvard Classics collection, look at the course syllabus and book table of contents, then decide what to focus on. This allows you to become more efficient.

Construct a Personalized Textbook

Based on the skills-set that you are trying to hone, you can create a personalized textbook. You can simplify the process by using Evernote (Review of Work Smarter with Evernote and Review of The Evernote Bible). The blog post “How to Create Your Own Textbook — With or Without Apple” by MindShift walks you through the process. After you have decided which components of a course and sections of a book to focus on, you can use Evernote’s Clipper, a bookmarklet, to clip those sections and construct your personalized textbook.

It’s easy enough to hone your skills-set through online classes, but the difficult part is to find the right classes, and commit to taking them. Share an experience where you honed your skills-set through online classes in the comment box below. And remember to teach what you have learned to others to cement the information in your long-term memory. All book links are affiliate links.

Books Mentioned