Yes, you read that right: I will never go back to school.
But it’s probably not what you think it is: the reason I’m not going back to school is because I never left in the first place.
Ever since I graduated, I’ve had to study to keep up in my line of business. In my first job I took a lot of IT courses, because I wanted to understand the concepts. Then, when I was a trained IT professional, I started to take business courses so I could manage my team, and eventually a company. And now that I’m doing that, my learning journey continues every day, because there’s always a little something that I haven’t figured out yet.
Over the past 20 years, access to learning has dramatically improved: at my university we used paper books that you read in libraries. Now, the Internet gives us easy access to knowledge and information. If you have a question and don’t know the answer, Wikipedia is just one click away and many books can be found online.
The iPad is proving to be a great learning tool, especially since iTunesU came along. I love that I can now follow courses from MIT, Harvard and other great universities that I did not have the chance to attend. Resources like TED provide a worldwide podium for scientists and artists to share their ideas with the world in bite size pieces. And then there’s Twitter, on which I find links to new research materials and studies to keep my thinking going.
Most of us will have to study continuously, in order to keep up with the changing demands of our industries. The good thing is that learning is not a one-way street: the knowledge you consume can be converted into something else, which you can easily share and give back. Think of all the blogs and websites where people share great ideas with the world, usually without expecting anything in return.
We live in a time of sharing and collaboration, or social learning, where education can be found everywhere as long as you are willing to learn. We engage in just-in-time, “pull” learning. We learn while doing, while exchanging ideas in the workplace, while participating in online chats. The world of education has certainly changed – and that’s why I never have to go back to school.