degree using a process known as autodidacticism. This is something that's
more easily undertaken these days with the great wealth
of online tools available to anyone.
Whether you've gone to college or
not, you can learn just about anything these days on your own. Want to learn
about the classics? Carpentry and home maintenance? Philosophy or cooking? Chess
or computer programming? It's all online, and with a little bit of excitement,
you can motivate yourself to learn a subject in a growing number of
Why self-education? Well, besides the obvious reasons of wanting to
improve yourself, prepare yourself for success,
and just learn as much as you can, self-education offers a few extra benefits:
you can learn at your own pace, and in your own way. You can follow your
passions, and learn about things that excite you. There's no price for failure,
but there's every reward for success.
How do you go about becoming an autodidact?
The answer is simple: any way you want. I would suggest you set aside just a
little time each day to learn a specific subject, but that really depends on
your learning style. Some people learn all in one great rush: they'll stay up
late hours for a few days in a row, consuming everything they possibly can about
a subject. Others are overwhelmed by an approach like that, and would rather
learn a little each day.
However you go about it, here are some of the best tools for the modern autodidact:
1.Wikipedia. A vast repository of
great and useful articles, Wikipedia is the autodidact's dream. You could surf
it for hours, days on end, or you could use one of many tools to make daily
learning a breeze. One of the best is the Articles of the Day feature --sign up to get it in your email box. Another
great option that I've tried is making Wikipedia's random page your home page.
2.Online Courses. Today you can learn
from the best colleges and universities, from the comfort
of your own home. Just a few of the online offerings: Berkeley, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Johns
Hopkins, Notre Dame.
3.Chapter a day. Don't have time for
books? Read them the easy way: a chapter a day is emailed to you or added to
your RSS reader by DailyLit.com, which has a growing selection
of free books.
4.Word a day. Improve your vocabulary
by leaps and bounds through the FreeDictionary, which has some great
features you can subscribe to,including these RSS feeds: Article of the Day, In the News, and This Day in History.
5.Take quizzes. One of the most fun
ways of learning is through games and quizzes. If you do a quick Google search,
you can find quizzes on just about any topic, including math, grammar, the
U.S. Constitution ... you name it. Also try flashcards
for effective learning.
6.Art a day. If you'd like to learn
about art, one of the best tools is Your Daily Art. Subscribe to the feed, and every day you'll get a famous
piece of art, along with some notes to help your contemplation.
7.Podcasts. Not a fan of heavy
reading? Get your knowledge through listening. You can listen to a course while
driving, while relaxing in the bath, or while your boss thinks you're working.
Just kidding about that last one. Here are just a few of the available podcasts:
UCLA podcasts, Berkeley on
iTunes, Stanford on iTunes, Purdue
University Podcasts, University Channel (Princeton).
8.Free ebooks. Of course, there are
thousands of great books online, available for free. Read them during your spare
time, print them out for bathroom reading ... it doesn't matter how you use
them, they're free! Here are some sites to start you out:
Project Gutenberg, Wikibooks, Free Audio Books, Free
9.Learn languages. Tons of language
courses are available online (BBC languages, FSI
Language Courses to name a couple), and you can even learn
them through iTunes: Chinese, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Greek
and much more.
10.Wikiversity. A growing number of
courses are being offered through a great resource, Wikiversity. Also try BBC
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