There are few things that can beat learning. Not just because it gives us means to survive but also because it opens our minds to new things and ideas that might have been foreign to us. I am a big fan of learning something new. Sometimes, I try something that I may have never tried before and sometimes it’s just a reiteration of things closer to me.
When I was a child books were the only source (credible enough) to learn something new. Discovery Channel came close second to expand my mind.
Those were the old days though. Now, in the era of internet when there exists a medium that works to and fro, information can be transferred at leisure and distance is no longer a constraint learning something new is not only easy but not very costly as well.
I would like to talk about three mediums (inside internet itself) that are helping people achieve the desired skills.
1. Books and other written stuff
While it may be old school it still serves the purpose. On the internet one can find several free books that are good to study. For example, I once searched for a book on Python and ended up with more (high quality) books than I could read. Then there always is Wikipedia. Helping students completing their projects the quality of the open encyclopedia is improving and is at par with its professional counterparts.
Add to this the amount of content available in form of blogs like cooking blogs and language learning courses pretty much everything under the sun has been tabulated and scripted on internet by people who are willing to impart the knowledge.
2. Online Videos and Courses
Reading is not everyone’s passion and not everyone has the patience to endure a long book. Enters videos! If you look at the number of channels on YouTube alone that are focused on teaching, it is amazing. Add to it the complete sites dedicated to the idea and it becomes mind-blowing. Be it ‘thenewboston’ on YouTube or Khan Academy or Udemy or the MIT opencourseware, the courses are there to teach you everything from Guitar to Programming to basic high school Maths.
And it is not only global universities who are doing this – Even in India, Government initiatives like NPTEL have allowed IITs across India to create thousands of hours of curriculum based online videos that not only help students, but also faculties immensely. Many online platforms like My Open Courses are being setup where students can ask questions and get their doubts clarified from top academic minds!
3. Interactive sites
How can internet end without interactive environment! Although, I have seen this only for programming languages (we have even reviewed a few) it is the best way to learn. There is no better way than to actually do it and these sites give a platform where you can make your own programs and move to notepad when you are ready for it. I am sure the same idea can be implemented for other arts as well. Like teaching to be a DJ! Make your own music instantly to go to next level.
Many times these three will be merged with each other. Books to go along with the videos or maybe a video with the interactive window, these things support each other.
What is important is that the knowledge is out there without discrimination of caste or race or geography. With the cost of internet decreasing and the price of internet enabled devices going down knowledge sharing might be the next big revolution.