In a world where nearly all the world’s information is at our fingertips, the barriers to learning are gone. We are on the cusp of a digital education revolution where traditional schools are being disrupted and a lifetime of self-directed learning or unschooling is becoming the new way to thrive.
Today, you can design your own passion-driven learning curriculum and prepare yourself to ride the technological waves that will power the next economic boom. The average person today will have 3-5 careers over the course of their lifetime. Under these circumstances, we must be learning all the time.
Fortunately, the Internet is the most powerful tool for learning ever invented. Soon, we will not only have the world wide web, but also new technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality that let us learn and explore through all of our senses rather than textbooks and lectures. For the curious among us, there has never been a better time to be alive.
Your options for self-education and lifelong learning are endless. You can take online courses, master new skills, build your own website, read classic books, explore the world with your smartphone, and collaborate with other lifelong learners from all over the world.
So, let’s dive in!
Take Online Courses:
These are the online education companies that are revolutionizing education and building the next generation of interactive learning communities.
- Coursera – The largest course platform for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) with over 25 million students around the world.
- Udacity – Founded by Sebastian Thrun, the creator of Google’s self-driving cars. Udacity’s focus is on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines.
- EdX – A partnership between Harvard, MIT and Berkeley.
- MIT Open Courseware – An ambitious project to make the course materials used in virtually all of MIT’s courses available on the web for free.
- Khan Academy – Salman Khan’s pioneering online academy where you can learn just about any academic subject online for free.
- Saylor – Started by serial entrepreneurial Michael Saylor. The Saylor Foundation is a non-profit that provides a free University education.
- Udemy – The iTunes of learning new digital skills and training for your career.
Watch Video Lectures:
Expand your realm of possibilities and get inspired by watching bite-sized lectures by the world’s leading thinkers, entrepreneurs, and creators.
- TED – With its slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading” the TED Conference (stands for Technology, Education, Design) features the world’s leading academics, teachers, and innovators in easily digestible 18-minute lectures.
- YouTube EDU – Google’s YouTube Education channel. Lots of great educational content, lectures and conference talks conveniently organized.
- Do Lectures – Inspiring talks from people who have set out to change the world.
- Big Think – Short videos with important contemporary thinkers, entrepreneurs, and scientists talking about their expertise.
- Fora.TV – A constantly expanding collection of videos from the world’s biggest conferences and events.
- @Google Talks – Innovator thinkers and doers visit Googleplex to give inspiring talks that are posted freely online by Google.
- RSA Animate – Engaging, hand-drawn videos that illustrate important issues in the world today.
- Creative Live – Live workshops taught by world-class experts. Free if you mark the talks on your schedule and watch the live streams.
- Reddit Lectures – A busy Reddit community for the latest and greatest video lectures.
Watch Streaming Documentaries:
Documentaries are one of my favorite ways to spark curiosity and learn about a new subject, movement, or issue. Here are my best documentary collections.
- Mind Expanding Documentaries List – My collection of thought-provoking documentaries that I have collected from across the web.
- Education Documentaries List – My collection of the best documentaries on education, creativity, and technology.
- Social Media Documentaries List – My collection of documentaries on the rise of the new social media influencers.
- Thought-Provoking Documentaries List – 10 documentaries that I highly recommend watching.
Online Learning Toolbox:
Here are my favorite organizational tools for managing my own self-education and creative projects.
- Evernote – Outsource ideas and notes to your digital memory using Evernote.
- Feedly – Subscribe to your favorite websites using their RSS feeds.
- Flipboard – A fun way to browse the latest news.
- Pocket – Save the articles you read online in your digital pocket.
- Google Apps – The best online collaboration suite for cloud productivity.
- MindMeister – Create beautiful mind maps to organize yourself.
The New Resume:
To prove you take the initiative and adopt new technologies, you need a website. Here’s how to differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace of talent.
- The Internet Is Your Resume – My do-it-yourself guide for creating a professional-looking WordPress in less than 2 hours.
- Build Your Personal Brand – A guide to getting today’s high-paying jobs and creating your own job by crafting a distinctive personal brand.
- LinkedIn – The professional social networking website has become the new social resume.
Open Source Learning:
Access high-quality education textbooks, get your burning questions answered and explore a world of free digital self-education resources.
- Brainly – Get real-time study help in the world’s largest study group.
- Quora – Find crowdsourced advice on every imaginable topic.
- Open Textbooks – Browse college textbooks by subject, which are made freely available online.
- Scribd – An Amazing library of digital documents on every imaginable subject.
- Slideshare – Learn new things and find information broken down to the essential bits in this incredible library of digital presentations.
- Creative Commons Education – An open source movement to make educational content freely available online.
- Connexions – A global knowledge sharing community that breaks information down into small, easily-digestible chunks.
- Open Source – Explore the world of open source technology.
Digital Education Guides:
If you want to dive deeper into what’s available for self-education and online learning, these guides will help you.
- A 21st Century Reading List – Books on innovation and the future of work.
- Design Your Own Education – My guide to mastering lifelong learning.
- The Best iOS Education Apps – Learn anywhere on your iPhone.
- The Best Android Education Apps – Mobile learning on your Android.
- The HyperLearning Toolkit – My free digital toolkit for lifelong learners.
Liberal Arts: Study The Classics
A great way to get inside the minds of civilization greatest thinkers is to read their books.
- The Liberal Arts 4-Year Reading List – Study the essential classics and educate yourself in the classical liberal arts.
- The Classics – Free Ebooks Reading List – A collection of classic ebooks that you are freely available in the public domain.
- A Lifetime’s Reading: The World’s 500 Greatest Books – Compiled by the prolific Philip Ward, a librarian, scholar, editor, and author of more than 50 books.
- Great Books of the Western World – 161 books essential books of the West on Wikipedia.
- The Western World’s 500 Greatest Books – An excellent collection of over 500 books from Western civilization with links to where you can read them on Project Gutenberg.
- Great Literature of the Eastern World – I couldn’t find an equivalent book of Eastern books online but this book apparently covers many major works.
- Book Yards – 1000s of more free ebooks easily browsable by author or category.
- Planet Ebook – Read 80+ free classic books for free on your computer or mobile device.
- Project Gutenberg – Read over 42,000 free books in the massive Project Gutenberg archive. Download many of them directly to Kindle or other mobile reading formats. Amazing resource for self-education.
- Good Reads – A massive social network for discovering new books and sharing the books you love.
In this post-truth world where both the mainstream media and social networks are full of misinformation, critical thinking skills are everything.
- Thou Shalt Not Commit Logical Fallacies – One of my favorite learning tools. Use it to recognize when you or other people use logical fallacies. You can even link them to the right page to point out their errors in the thinking 🙂
- Trivium Education – An excellent website dedicated to the Trivium, the ancient system of grammar, logic, and rhetoric that used to be the cornerstone of liberal education.
- Trivium Resources – An excellent collection of Trivium resources from the critical thinking community Tragedy and Hope.
- The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric – The classic book by Sister Miriam Joseph that teaches the Trivium and how it can be used to improve your intelligence and reasoning.
- The History of Education – Legendary teacher John Taylor Gatto’s epic series on critical thinking, self-education and the history of modern education.
Self-Knowledge and Wisdom:
Educating the mind without awakening the heart is no education at all. Explore religious texts to develop your self-knowledge and awaken to the spiritual dimension that gives life meaning and richness.
- Internet Sacred Text Archive – Read the sacred texts from the world’s major religions and other less institutionalized religions like Sufism, Gnosticism, Tantrism, Taoism, Shamanism and more.
- Sacred Books of the East – Browse and read public domain copies of 50 of the most important books of Eastern philosophy and civilization.
- Virtual Religious Index – Extensive link collection maintained by Rutgers University of websites with informative religious content. Categorized by religion as well as ancient religions, archaeology, and philosophy.
- Meta Religion – Internet project for educating people in a multidisciplinary view of the religion, spiritual and the world of esoteric phenomena.
- Sacred Destinations – Places of great spiritual power around the world that you can explore and plan to visit one day.
- Religion Facts – Get your religious questions answered on this site.
- Spiritual Reality Power of Meditation – Freedom from compulsory thoughts is the gateway to wisdom and a true understanding of who you are. This YouTube video is one of the best introductions to meditation.
Education Depositories and Tools:
Some great digital tools for furthering your self-education and lifelong learning.
- Kibin – A proof-reading and editing community that can help you improve your writing. You can either pay or proof-read other people’s work and get credit for it.
- Library of Congress – The de facto national library of the United States of America and the largest library in the world. Most of it is accessible online.
- BBC Learning – Huge collection of learning resources from the BBC. Find online courses
, video clips and educational games.
- iTunes Podcasts – I highly recommend browsing the Podcasts on iTunes. So many incredible free audio shows at your fingertips.
Learn New Languages:
The best way to learn is to travel. To travel well, you’re probably going to want to learn the local languages. Here are the best ways to do it fast.
- Duolingo – My favorite free language learning website. Totally gamified learning process where you can learn for free by translating content while you learn.
- Memrise – Innovative memorizing system for learning new languages.
- Live Mocha – The largest language learning community online that I know of.
- BBC Languages – Great language learning resources freely provided by the BBC.
Some of the most thought-provoking books about the history and nature of education.
- Weapons of Mass Instruction (John Taylor Gatto)
- Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More Than Your Peers Ever Will (Dale J. Stephens)
- The Education of Millionaires: It’s Not What You Think and It’s Not Too Late (Michael Ellsberg)
- The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined (Salman Khan)
- Better Than College: How to Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree (Blake Boles)
- DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education (Anya Kamenetz)
- Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (John Taylor Gatto)
- Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better (John Holt)
- The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World (Chris Guillebeau)
- Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Peter Gray)
- The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School (Neil Postman)
- Stop Stealing Dreams: What Is School For? (Seth Godin)
- Deschooling Society (Ivan Illich)
- Teaching As A Subversive Activity (Neil Postman & Charles Weingartner)
- Education and the Significance of Life (Jiddhu Krishnamurti)
Explore The World:
Explore the world using online tools that will excite your senses and spark your curiosity.
- Google World Wonders Project – Google brings to life the wonders of the modern and ancient world.
- Google Art Project – Explore collections from art museums around the world with thousands of artworks photographed in extremely high resolution.
- National Geographic Education – Cultivate your knowledge of the world’s geography and countries.
- Geoguessr – Guess the world’s most famous locations using Google Maps and StreetView.
These self-education resources should be enough to empower your lifelong learning. Enjoy learning!