5 free resources for the lifelong learner.

Don’t let schooling interfere with your education. – Mark Twain

I believe that one of the most significant things separating those who pursue their dreams and those who don’t is lifelong learning.

According to the Lifelong Learning Council Queensland:

Lifelong learning can instill creativity, initiative and responsiveness in people thereby enabling them to show adaptability in post-industrial society through enhancing skills to:

  • manage uncertainty
  • communicate across and within cultures, sub-cultures, families and communities
  • negotiate conflicts

Lifelong learning does not mean staying in university forever. A lifelong learner seeks opportunities to learn more and become better through self-driven learning. The ability to teach oneself is extremely undervalued in our society, but some of the world’s most brilliant minds had no formal education.

So how does someone become a lifelong learner? Here are some thoughts:

  1. Seek out ways you can learn to be a better person.
  2. Seek out ways you can learn new skills.
  3. Seek out ways you can learn to have better interpersonal relationships.

Lifelong learning can be formal (classes, etc.) or informal (online research, YouTube videos, or reading books).

Lifelong learning is less an activity and more a world view. A lifelong learner is constantly aware of the learning value of every experience, mistake, book, and conversation.

Here are some resources that can help you to develop a lifestyle of learning:

#1: Take free university-level courses.

OpenCourseWare (OCW) is, simply put, a collection of college and university courses published online for free. These courses cover a wide range of subjects, and often include student forums to connect students who are taking the courses simultaneously.

Most courses are delivered via video or audio lectures, with lesson plans and automatically graded online quizzes. These courses are offered for free by many universities, including:

These courses offer a wealth of resources for those interested in a more formal approach to  education, but without the prohibitive costs of a university degree. The only downside? You will not receive a degree. If you are wanting to pursue formal education for the purpose of a degree, these courses may not be for you. However, if you want a more in-depth, systematic way of learning a particular subject or skill, these courses can be an invaluable resource.

#2: Listen to audiobooks or learn a new language – for free.

Did you know that if you are a Spotify Premium subscriber, you have access to dozens of audiobooks, spoken word poetry, recordings of historical speeches, and even foreign language lessons?

These resources can be found under a Genres and Moods category called “Word.”

#3: Reacquaint yourself with your local library.

Libraries are a wonderful source of books, manuals, guides, audiobooks, and movies – all for free (as long as you remember to return them!). But did you know that many library websites also offer free access to many online learning resources that otherwise require a paid subscription? Your library card can grant you access to scholarly journals and peer reviewed studies on thousands of topics.

#4: Take advantage of your local small business development center.

If you are interested in learning about how to start or run your own business, most cities a small business development center that provides free seminars, webinars, and even one-on-one coaching for aspiring entrepreneurs. To search for a small business development center in your area, click here.

#5: Volunteer.

Lifelong learning isn’t just about reading books and taking classes. Lifelong learning is also about impactful experiences – about putting yourself in a position to experience things that are outside your comfort zone. Everyone has the capacity to volunteer in some way. Experiences shape us more than anything else in life. What experiences are you allowing to shape you? Not sure where to volunteer? Here are some websites that can help you find a good fit:

What are some ways you can work to become a lifelong learner? Take some time today to think about some things you’ve been wanting to learn, and then check out the resources above to see if they can help!

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