When I was in school as a kid, I learned mostly to score the highest, and make my mother happy- who most of the times was very difficult to please. If I scored 98, she would ask why it wasn’t a 100/100. Well, my MBA took care of that- when there was scope for extra credit I made sure I did that too ; thus, at times, I scored above 100% in certain sections. But the purpose wasn’t just to please my parents anymore. I found joy in learning my subject.
Some people take up Liberal Arts, some people prefer learning machine languages, I majored in Marketing and it fascinated me. I found some of the Dreamforce ’12 presentations very inspiring when the Marketing gurus reaffirmed that it was a good time to be a marketer. Indeed. Never has it been easier to listen and communicate to your customers, innovate and evolve accordingly. Your judgment can be more informed and your brand message more consistent if you are just willing to pay attention. And I love that because essentially I love to listen- people who know me well will agree.
Anyways, I was saying that I love to learn, and with age that sense of pleasure is getting stronger- when I wasn’t studying to complete with the next best, scores became exceptionally good as a by-product. Learning to learn was the greatest reward of all- and it meant better retention too.
The greatest fear when I was leaving Boston was that I might not get enough structured learning until I decided to enroll in a program again. The first thing I did after I moved to West Coast after B-school was to get a library card- the cheapest and most convenient way to get access to bigger resources than I can personally afford or maintain. Now, the happiest time of the month is when I visit my public library to return a book or movie I have thoroughly enjoyed and I can browse for more things that might interest me.
Though I have taught myself a couple of things with steep learning curves(or at least long learning curves) in recent years (I'm fairly decent in Photoshop and I mean beyond masking and layering, learning Illustrator now), I found that more structured learning was required. I took up Statistics (for Managers), something I had in my undergrads and hence got waived in my Masters. I religiously followed video lectures on Youtube by an excellent UCB professor, took notes at least 1-2 hours each day. My brother seemed surprised- but I told him that I did it because I enjoyed it, and I had more than enough spare time to learn something I had began to forget. Couple of days later, he asked me about a case of forecasting using Regression model, which I enjoyed discussing with him.
Now, I have signed up for couple of courses in Coursera on Finance, Innovation, Strategy and Disruptive technologies. I signed up for another class archive because it is over already. My sessions begin on 28th Jan. I must say I am happy, and I hope to learn well again.
I know Udacity and Skillshare are similar resources. MIT Open courseware was something I used as a management student to complement my classroom learning. Youtube has some good lecture videos too. Send me a query if you require help to explore these further. Like many, I too believe that education should be free for all. You don't need to be buried in a heavy load of student loan to be able to afford quality education; it is what you do with what you have learned that should matter, not the price you paid for it.
P.S. Recommended for Business majors hoping to succeed in a technical environment : Advice From A Former Business Student Turned Googler (Aditya Mahesh, TechCrunch)
TEDTalk on the new age of education.
Update: Had fun in this course, and scored 97.7%. Not all courses have provision of distinction and it is getting too stressful now.Not sure if I can keep up.