Learning doesn’t have to be limited to the physical classroom environment. Although I love teaching in the classroom, today I’m also an online professor and a LinkedIn Learning instructor. If you open your eyes and you’re also open to new ways of obtaining knowledge, then you’ll find learning around every corner.
Of course, learning requires you (1) make the time, (2) have a clear mind and (3) be fully present to receive information. Now you may say, “But, I’m already learning online and through social media every day.” Yes, from the Twitter chats to the forums and groups, there is no shortage of knowledge transfer. However, what I’ve also noticed is that learning comes in a few other simple forms, and in some places, you may not expect.
If you’re interested in increasing your knowledge, then here are five easy tips to learning in not so obvious places.
#1. If you have Alexa (Amazon’s Echo, Dot, or Tap ) in your home, then tap into her knowledge. Did you ever start reading a book and you immediately notice there are words which are not familiar to you? You could tell yourself you’ll look them up later or you may grab your smartphone to find out the meanings. But, now, you can just ask Alexa.
”Alexa … what does peripatetic mean?” One definition she offers is “traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.”
While watching the news, during the 2016 election, our kids asked Alexa about TPP to learn it stood for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, “a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.”
The list goes on and on regarding the questions you can ask. Alexa is taking the place of the dictionary. Plus, when your smartphone is not easy to access, she’s even more convenient than Google or Siri. Alexa is especially helpful if your family abides by the “no technology at the table rule.” In our home, Alexa sits several feet away but is always within earshot to answer our dinner conversation questions and to settle any ambiguous topics that come up.
#2. Learn a new word every day. Taking advantage of “Word of the Day” program is a simple way to learn. Of course, one member of your household has to be in charge of finding the word and making sure it appears in a central place for everyone in your home to access. In our house, there is a Word of the Day on a post-it note, stuck to the refrigerator. Each one comes with a definition and sometimes an example showing how the word is used. Then, it’s up to each of us to use the word in our daily conversations.
The New York Times online has a Word of the Day program. There are also several “Word of the Day” apps for both iPhones and Androids that you can easily download to increase your vocabulary and your learning. But, for maximum learning be sure to share with the rest of your family so you can learn together.
#3. Talk to people outside of your age group. Of course, you’re exposed to other people from diverse cultures and different nationalities. You should always surround yourself with individuals who have varied backgrounds and perspectives. But don’t forget that there are family members of various ages right in your home.
I’m fortunate to have Millennials in my home. Listening to their perspectives around the 2016 election has taught me so much about their hopes and dreams, as well as their concerns and struggles. Understanding their perspectives has helped me in my work and relationships with younger professionals.
At the same time, having parents in their 80s is another valuable learning experience. Hearing the stories from their past, the rich history during different periods of their lives whether it was the Great Depression or what it was like to live and work in the 50s. Talking to people outside of your age group can open your eyes and your mind to a whole new world from a much different perspective.
#4. YouTube is the #2 search engine and a haven for visual learning. So many people say, “Just google it.” Yes, I’m Googling, but YouTube is also a favorite learning platform. You can learn just about anything on YouTube. The beauty of YouTube is that if you’re a visual learner, then you can quickly view and retain more information.
I learned about my GoPro Hero Black on YouTube. Then, when I needed to purchase podcasting equipment, YouTube was an incredible source of information. I was also able to access several quick tutorials on how to adjust my Yeti microphone and connect it to my Mac computer. YouTube also taught me why I should use a pop filter and set up foam cartons in my office for better sound. So, the next time you think you want to use Google, hop over to YouTube, especially if you’re a visual learner.
#5. Reddit has the answers. I remember when my stepson learned he was accepted for a summer internship at Amazon in New York City. We were so excited for him. We knew it was a long interview process. I found it fascinating when he mentioned how he went to Reddit to talk to professionals and peers about the internship, learning more about the interview process and what his summer role would entail.
We’ve seen the revitalization of Reddit. Our kids have mentioned being on Reddit before. They talk about the Reddit subgroups all of the time, and how people are more than willing to share knowledge on any number of subjects. For professionals, you can do the same thing on Quora. However, it appears that Reddit is certainly gaining a lot of traction so you might want to check out the learning potential in this community.
These are a few ways to learn and expand your mindset. I guess no matter where you choose to find your information, the most important thing is that you want to learn. I consider myself a Forever Student (#ForeverStudent) and will take my classroom wherever I go.
Where are you finding easy new ways to learn? Are you also accessing information in simple but not so obvious places?