What I really love about this digital era is how easily one can learn almost anything he wants. The only requirements are a computer, an internet connection, and of course, the necessary amount of motivation. Isn't that just wonderful?
It was only a few decades ago when obtaining enough knowledge to get a specific job without leaving a room was simply impossible. And by the way, now it's also cheaper than ever.
Because I've finished many Udemy courses since September 2017 and got a job as a software developer mostly thanks to what I learned from them, I'd like to share with you a few tips I've written down for myself after a lot of mistakes I made during my self-learning process.
But before that, let me tell you a little bit more about myself. I was a terrible student. I hated school from its earliest stages. I've left high school twice and when I got back and finally finished it, I haven't even thought about enrolling in any University and entered the job market immediately.
Since then I've been doing several different kinds of jobs before I landed as a software developer in August 2018. I was a cook, bartender, postman, insurance agent, logistic specialist, forklift driver, foreman, graphic designer and so and so.
And as a kid, I used to think for quite a long period of time that I'm stupid because I've been told so. I've also been told that I have no chance to get any higher education and probably end up doing some unskilled labor for a minimum wage.
Today, fortunately, I know it's not me who was stupid, but the rigid educational system of our post-soviet country, more focused on producing obedient taxpayers than actually learn young people something useful.
But back to the original topic, because you want to learn something useful, rather than listening to the story of my life, right? :-)
It's commonly known that learning itself is a skill too, and the better you master it, the faster and more effective learner you'll be.
With the following tips, I believe you'll be able to get the most from every on-line course. As you may have guessed, I do programming courses mostly, but I think these tips are more or less applicable to courses that cover other areas as well.
Maybe you're now saying something like “Jeez, I'm too busy with so many other things, I won't find an hour for learning every day”, but I do strongly believe that everyone can.
If you have a problem with that, try to track down what you've been doing for a week and then see what you can pop out to get your hour for learning.
Of course, it could happen you skip a day or two, it happens to me sometimes, as long it's occasional, no big deal.
The great thing about self-learning is you learn what you want when you want. There are no grades, no deadlines, the whole responsibility for you is just up to you. After all, you are the master of your future.
Get yourself a journal for learning. In mine, I plan every Monday lessons for each day until the end of the week, and when on Sunday I see all lessons marked as done, It gives me a powerful motivation boost for the upcoming week.
I've been on that silly road for a while, doing four or five courses at the same time. Some of them still remain unfinished.
On the other hand, none of us are the same and the fact that doing more courses at once doesn't work for me does not mean it won't work for you either.
Maybe you even have or come up with a clever system to effectively handle more courses simultaneously. If so, please reach out, I'd be very happy to hear about that.
Before you enroll in a course, read its full description. You should always find over there what you can expect, whether there are some requirements or prerequisites and for who the course has been made.
Also, read a few reviews from other students as well and don't forget to check out the instructor. It's great that everyone can create and publish his own course, but when you know no background of your instructor, you could end up being misguided by someone who is not just ready to teach the topic.
If the challenge is too hard, at least try, do your best and then let the instructor reveal you the solution. Don't feel bad you've failed, don't forget you're learning and bad mood lowers your motivation and makes your brain works less effectively.
On the other hand, in case you succeed too easily, pat yourself on the back and take an extra step by modifying the task to challenge yourself a little bit more.
Since, as I mentioned at the beginning, knowledge is so easy to get these days (at least technically), it is tempting to start dipping your toes in different waters, but none can be an expert in everything.
Once, I've been learning ethical hacking, multiple programming languages, 3D modeling, drawing, painting and I planned to add Japanese, and how to play the piano. I'm glad I've realized soon enough how foolish and inefficient it was.
However, you'll definitely find useful to know a significant bit from multiple fields that are related to each other, for example, mathematics, computer science, and artificial intelligence.
Being a jack of all trades is not generally a bad thing these days as long as you keep your trades related, and be sure to pick one of them to be dominant and works as a pivot for the others.
As you're going through the course and you're gaining knowledge, at some point you're able to apply what you've learned in your own creations.
In my case, it's usually around the middle of a course when I start exploring, mostly in the form of making some micro-projects or proofs-of-concept. It takes minimum time but solidifies your freshly gained knowledge pretty well.
Plus it often requires Google for some additional pieces of information, so you get the chance to learn a bit more.
There are many channels where people ask for help. If you know a solution to their problem, share it. And if you feel confident enough about a certain topic, why not write a post about it or make a video tutorial?
It will benefit you as well. Not only you will revise what you've learned, but you can eventually find some flaws in your own understanding to fix.
You should always bear in mind, there is still something new to learn out there and always will be.
Never stop learning, never let yourself fall upon that false belief you've learned enough and now you're a highly trained professional who knows everything he needs. Never stop learning.
Yes, I wrote that last bit twice, because I think it's the most important advice I can give. Never stop learning.
And that's it. I hope you've enjoyed reading this article and that you'll find it useful on your own learning journey.