Increasing your skillset is a great way to stay inspired and sharp in your chosen industry. But it can be hard to do when you can't leave the house. To help, we've put together a guide to learning during a lockdown.
As with many aspects of daily life, the current pandemic has put a hard stop on being able to head to a classroom to improve your skills.
But, with plenty of down-time and a working Wi-Fi connection, there's no reason why you can't still concentrate on upping your skillset from home.
In this guide, we've put together some of the best ways to learn online. Whether you're looking for a quick class to inspire new ways of thinking or a full course to learn an entirely new skill, we'll help to point you in the right direction.
There’s never been a better time to take advantage of the many courses that are available online. Whatever your industry or expertise level, you'll find something that will expand your knowledge.
The main deciding factor for online learning is cost. For those with bigger budgets, video courses such as the Masterclass series offer awesome packages. You can learn everything from film-making with Martin Scorsese to cooking with Gordon Ramsey.
At the other end of the scale, edx.org is a hub of over 2500 free online courses, provided by some of the world's top universities.
Three other online course providers
- Alison - thousands of free courses covering numerous subjects.
- FutureLearn - offering everything from free short courses to online degrees.
- Skillshare - online education powerhouse, with a focus on creative industries.
The humble podcast has had something of a renaissance in recent years. It's easy to see why. The format is excellent for offering short, sharp bursts of information as well as for longer narrative explorations.
As you'd expect, there are tons of podcasts out there that can inform, educate, and entertain you all at the same time. Some of our favourites include the design podcast, 99% Invisible, Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History, and Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders from Stanford University. Of course, we also have our very own podcast here at Parasol, Under the Umbrella.
Of course, you'll find lots of podcasts that look at specific specialisms, too. Take a look at what thought leaders in your industry are recommending (or ask them on social media), and get your headphones out.
As a side-note, we highly recommend listening to your podcasts with the Pocket Casts app. The search functionality is second-to-none, and it makes queueing up a playlist of your favourite shows easy.
When it comes to gaining knowledge, there's still not much that beats a good book. And, although it can be hard to get hold of print versions right now, your options for ebooks are plentiful.
Speaking of free resources for books, did you know that many local libraries in the UK offer an ebook loan service? Check your local council library website to find out more.
So far, we've looked at ways of expanding your skillset with prerecorded or written material. But, what if you learn better with face-to-face instruction? Well, you have options as well.
Many thought leaders and experts offer free live webinars to their social media followers or industry colleagues. Keep an eye on their LinkedIn profiles or Twitter feeds to find details. You can also find listings of upcoming webinars at sites such as Score and Zoom.
Likewise, you might find that specialist training academies or industry schools are offering interactive video classes—this method of teaching has become extremely popular since the pandemic began. Again, it's best to check out the education providers for your industry to see what's available.
Other places to learn
We've covered off the main online destinations for learning, but here are three more places you might find some skillset-increasing content.
- TED Talks - the global phenomenon that is TED has a video database of over 3300 insightful talks from leading experts. Be warned, though: watching TED Talks can be seriously addictive.
- Reddit - at first glance, this site can seem like millions of memes and questionable gaming communities. But delve a little deeper, and you'll find useful subreddits (it's another name for 'forums') on everything from advertising to coding.
- LinkedIn Learning - many people with a LinkedIn Premium account don't realise that they also get access to the whole LinkedIn Learning database for free. There are hundreds of courses available across business, creative, and technology. The Learning Paths function is really good, too—it gives you a curated suite of courses based around your career aims.
Being cooped up in the house might mean that you have to break out of your usual habits. But with all of the learning resources mentioned above, it could be the ideal catalyst to go and dig out some new knowledge.
Speaking of knowledge, why not check out our resource hub? It's full of great advice, news, and views. Find it here.