What's now. What's next.

The future belongs to the curious.

by Nextness published January 17, 2012 posted in Inspiration Trends

The future belongs to the curious | SkillshareHave you noticed? Nobody’s talking about going back to university anymore. And it’s not just because of the cost.

“I’m thinking of doing a Masters.” “It’s not too late to do post-grad Law.” “A Grad Dip in Writing and Editing will change my life.”

All this used to be staple chat for 20-somethings, sick of jobs with Assistant in the title and unsure about the next step in their careers.  If you needed a status boost – and who doesn’t in their 20s, with Facebook telling you your friends are doing so well – “doing a Masters” was an arduous, expensive, but guaranteed way to get it. And if, like most people, you found yourself in the wrong industry after graduating the first time round, post-grad study was the best way to change career track.

But not anymore.

Side projects are the new post-grad degrees.

Why go to university to study writing when you could just write your first novel? Why take two years off to study photography when you could put out your own zine as a passion project? You can teach yourself Final Cut Pro while you edit your first movie. Why wait?

Of course, you could always persist in private with practising a new past time. The difference now is that, first, you don’t have to do it alone. You can form a community of peers online. And second, with free blogs, personal websites and portfolio sites you actually can prove – to the world, your Facebook friends, your parents and employers – that you know what you’re doing by publishing your work.

If you want to do something, just do it. You don’t need a degree as a permission slip to be creative.

Serious self-directed learning.

It’s not just the humanities and creative subjects that lend themselves to non-institutional study. If you have the self-discipline, the internet has what you need.

More than 100,000 people in two days signed up to learn to code with Code Year. Non-designers can teach themselves simple HTML and CSS with Don’t Fear the Internet.

Khan Academy has library of over 2,700 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and 276 practice exercises to “help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.”

MIT has launched MITx, and there are hundreds of free courses offered online by top universities.

Proving it.

Of course, there’s still the problem of proof. How do you display this knowledge and self-discipline to potential employers?

One route is through old-school certification. Mozilla, for example, has started the Open Badges project “helping learners everywhere display 21st century skills, unlock career and educational opportunities, and level up in their life and work.”

Another is plain good story storytelling. The resume is dead, and the bio is king. “Embrace the holy-grail of storytelling: tell a story that people can identify with as their own – and the need to persuade, convince, or sell them on anything disappears.”

And perhaps soon the drive and persistence required to gain knowledge outside of a structured environment will be rewarded rather than viewed with suspicion. Open learning advocate David Wiley says,

Say I’m Google, and I need to hire an engineer. My job ad requirement says “BS in Computer Science or equivalent.” I get two applicants. The first has a BS in Computer Science from XYZ State College. The second has certificates of successful completion for open courses in data structures and algorithms, artificial intelligence, and machine learning from Stanford and MITx. Do you think I’ll seriously consider candidate two? You bet I will.

To learn is to live.

Ultimately though the point of learning is not to get a new job or an ego boost.

Everyone has something they want to learn and something they can teach to others. Skillshare is a community marketplace to learn anything from anyone. Their platform “helps make the exchange of knowledge easy, enriching, and fun.”

The title of this post comes from their beautiful new video.

Take a look. What will you commit to learning this year?



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