Why I’m jealous of my daughter!
On Sunday, my younger daughter, a post-graduate student at the University of Amsterdam is going to West Africa to carry out a three-month research project as part of her international development Masters.
No, I’m not envious of 13 weeks in a country which is in the bottom half-dozen of countries with the lowest GDP per capita, but rather the whole experience of a year studying a subject she is passionate about. Unlike the subjects that interest me, international development is an area which requires both rigorous academic learning and on the ground fieldwork.
Back in November, I had the pleasure of visiting her in the Netherlands and relived the student lifestyle for a few days, soaking up the diverse offerings of this historic city. Not the tourist traps but the barren areas of Noord, the best sour dough pizza, and a jam-packed Nepalese restaurant with unparalleled Trip Advisor reviews. We took the new metro, numerous trams and went to church, and I realised bikes with reversing brakes on the pedals are not for me!
So why am I jealous…
Learning for many adults with responsibilities, like me, has to be squeezed into an already over-busy week. Taking a week out of our schedules – let alone a year – can take significant planning. I know some people find concentrating for a just a day’s workshop a challenge, so a year would be a form of torture for them.
Fortunately, there's an alternative.
How to indulge life-long learning without leaving home
Learning new skills whether for personal or professional development is a goal for many of us. I long for the time to indulge my life-long thirst for knowledge. Fortunately for me, unlike my daughter, much of what I would like to learn is available from online courses.
The Advantages of Online Learning
There are numerous advantages to learning online. In summary:
- Learning at your fingertips via laptop, desktop or mobile
- Learn on the go, where and when you want
- Learn at your own pace
- Take half a lesson or three in one session
- Wide choice of subjects from hobbies to fitness, quantum mechanics to knitting
- Meet people across the world with the opportunity for online interaction via forums and groups
- Gain access to the expert who has created the course
- Enhance your resume and opportunities for promotion
- Gain immediate feedback from online tests or quizzes
- Develop self-discipline
- Many offer lifetime access
- Frequently updated resources give you the latest learning in a fast-paced world
- Lower cost than in-person training
Disadvantages of online learning
Naturally, there are some drawbacks many of which can be overcome with a little research and adaptability in learning styles
- For people who benefit from one to one learning online may not be attractive
- They take discipline to schedule into your week.
- They are somewhat addictive. You might fall foul of ‘bright shiny object syndrome'
- You'll need to check out the quality of the course and the credentials of the teacher
- Some people find concentrating online takes practice
Whilst I might long for a time when I can experience the student lifestyle once again and relive my youth, until then I will continue to take online courses for both pleasure and to improve my business knowledge.
In addition to being a consumer of online courses, I have also created one for consultants, coaches and freelancers who want to save time and increase their revenue. Called The Homepreneur Productivity Course, it teaches a tried and tested, step-by-step process for saving 10 hours a week so you can regain control over your work-life balance.
Back in the 80s, I did my Masters in London at Imperial at a time when the ratio of men to women was 35:1. (Fortunately I believe it’s more than halved in the intervening 35 years). It was the toughest yet most rewarding year of study I have ever experienced. Hence I'm very proud of my Management Science Masters.