Lifelong or adult learning is crucial for mental health and wellbeing, much less the benefits it offers in improving your skills, career, or general understanding of the world. Ongoing education should be seen as standard. It helps improve cognitive function, improves the education and understanding of society as a whole, can improve career prospects, and so much more.
Adult learning is even in formal practice. In China, for example, there are over 70,000 universities for the elderly. Positions at these universities are so coveted that seniors camp out before registration opens. They teach a variety of skills, from dancing to languages, and are instrumental in improving health and wellbeing, and reducing social isolation. Over 8 million students enrol every year, and to do so only costs an 200 yuan or $31.
This accessible education has provided many seniors with the ability to improve their brain function, make friends, expand their skills, and enjoy their retirement. The concept is so popular that only 1/6th of those interested get in.
These adult learning centers are also incredibly popular throughout Europe, especially in France where the concept began, and in Britain. Waiting until retirement, however, is not necessary. In fact, to improve your quality of life today we should all adopt a lifelong learning approach.
This is entirely feasible for every single one of us due to the power of the internet and the digital resources available. To help you really take advantage of the opportunities available, however, you will want to follow this comprehensive guide:
The Benefits of Lifelong Learning
Lifelong learning benefits everyone of any age. There is no reason to stop formally learning after you graduate from university or college. In fact, it is often best to invest in informal learning streams after your BA, work your way up your career, and then choose the MA that will provide you with the biggest opportunities for advancement.
Lifelong learning isn’t just a means to an end for your career either, as you can enjoy many benefits from expanding your mind, skills, and reasoning.
Reducing Cognitive Decline
Cognitive decline occurs as we age and some lifestyles have more of an impact than others when it comes to the severity of the decline. In some cases it can lead to memory loss or a loss in the ability to retain new information. By taking on a lifestyle defined by the WHO’s Healthy Ageing framework, which includes lifelong learning as a necessity, we can all improve the quality of our lives and brain health.
Improves Grammar and Vocabulary
The benefits of lifelong learning don’t apply just to those reaching retirement age. From the very start you will enjoy improved grammar and vocabulary, allowing you to become more verbose and eloquent, especially in your field of work.
Improving Reasoning Skills
Just as learning when you were a child improved your ability to problem solve and think critically, a lifelong learning approach will similarly allow you to creatively solve problems by using information from multiple sources. Knowing how, say, a government reacted to economic decline can help your business when the right reasoning is applied.
Improving Social Connections
One of the best ways to solidify how we learn is to talk about what we have learned. When you commit to lifelong learning you can use what you know as a point of contact with coworkers, friends, and family. Improve your public speaking abilities, connect with people by skipping small talk and getting into in-depth conversations, and enjoy improved social connections.
Digital Learning Resources
Technology has vaulted the lifelong learning movement and has made the spread of information prevalent throughout society and around the world. This does of course mean that misinformation and outright lies can also spread like wildfire, but so long as you know which resources and sources to turn to when learning you can avoid falsifications. Instead, you can focus on building up your understanding and knowledge in any subject you choose.
To help you get started on which resources provide accurate information, you will want to focus on these digital tools and opportunities:
- Short Online Courses
- Digital Magazine, Journal, and Newspaper Subscriptions
- Video Tutorials
- Learning Computer Programs
- Online Degrees
How to Commit to Regular Learning Habits
Knowing where to go to access online courses, reading materials, tutorials, guides, and more is one thing. It is another one entirely to actually commit to the act of learning. To help you get accustomed to learning something new every day, try following these steps:
Read Or Listen to Podcasts on the Way to Work
If you don’t drive to work, try to read an academic or in-depth article on a subject. It can be about any subject. If you do drive or need to change public transportation frequently, try subscribing to several educational podcasts. Newspapers, organizations, and radio companies alike have created a wealth of digital knowledge – just try to aim for a producer that is reputable.
Enrol in One Digital Course at a Time
Online short courses can be taken online at any time, and many of them are free. This simply means however that there is a temptation to subscribe to multiple courses at once. Instead, stick to one. Do one lesson a day after or before work and you will finish course after course, and have an introductory understanding on all the topics you are interested in.
Take on One Project
If you are following a tutorial for a personal project you are making at home, again try to keep it to one project at a time. Work on this either once a week or once a day as it suits you. Don’t bog yourself down with many work-in-progresses.
Follow Bloggers, Journalists, and Academics
If you use social media frequently then turn your feed into a wealth of information. Follow bloggers, journalists, academics, NGOs, governments, artists, museums, and more. Even classically image-focused platforms like Instagram can be a source of news and in-depth information if you follow the right accounts. Though not the ideal way to learn, it can help transform a social media addiction into a positive activity.
How to Manage a Career and an Education
Becoming accustomed to learning and managing your own personal education can be instrumental in another way. It can help prepare you for an online degree. As stated before it is best to actually hold off on attaining an MA until you understand more fully what it is you want to do with your career and, more importantly, what you need to attain it.
By learning on the job in your industry you can avoid the pitfall of choosing a university that is designed to teach you the basics, when what you really need are the high-level skills and knowledge that will set you apart from all your competition.
In fact, some MA degrees, like the Data Science Masters offered by James Cook University requires you have at least five years relevant work experience on top of a relevant BA. This industry experience is critical to build on the skills you already have, especially since the degree itself is created by experts in the field and is designed for practical, non theoretical, application.
These online degrees are best done on a part time basis, to help spread out the cost and so that you don’t have to take year or more of your career. To help you manage undertaking an MA (even digital and part time) and your career you will want to adopt these practices into your life:
Improve Your Health
The first step you will want to work on is to improve your health. This should be done before you enrol, especially if you don’t currently exercise regularly. By building up this habit you can improve your ability to work longer with more natural energy by the time you finally start your online Masters.
Get a Good Night’s Rest
Be very strict during this time about your bedtime routine. You need to get a great night’s rest again and again. If you don’t you will be worn through and exhausted by the end of the day and won’t be able to commit the right amount of energy you need to your degree.
Find a Co-Working Space
Don’t work at home. Home should be where you relax and nothing else. Find a great co-working space. If you can, invest in a professional space that gives you a desk and access to wellness activities like yoga or meditation for your breaks. If not, find a quiet café to work in.
Work At The Same Time Every Day
Work at the same times every day. This can be split up between morning and the afternoon. In the morning on your commute you could read the articles or PDFs provided to you by your university. In the afternoon you can either continue this and type up your notes or follow the course recommendations. This might mean contributing in a digital seminar or listening to a video lecture.
Put What You Learn to Practice
Put what you learn to practice as soon as possible in your work. This will help your employer take note, and for you to solidify what you have learned in real-world practice. Doing this is generally great for memory retention.
Making What You Learn Go Further
The best way to learn is to put it into practice. If you are studying for an online MA then this is easy. You can start to put what you learn towards your work right away. If you supplement what you learn in this MA by going through the complete recommended reading list, or by investigating on your own, however, you are going to want to try out innovative methods to put that knowledge to good use.
One of the best ways to make what you learn go further is to create contextual understanding. In practice, this is best done when you create digital resources of your own. By putting together what you know into the form of essays, articles, or guides you can solidify all that you have read and been taught.
Start an Industry Relevant Blog
An industry relevant blog gives you complete control over what you write and publish. Work on your website, SEO, PR, and digital marketing, and you should be able to turn your blog into a leading publication that news agencies and others in your industry turn to and subscribe to.
Create a Workshop or Seminar
You can create a digital workshop or web seminar (known colloquially as a webinar) that can act as a passive income. Once you have created a successful niche blog, you can then sell your webinar as a premium service. This way you can put your most expert information to great use and increase your income streams.
Host a TED Talk
You can easily organize your very own TEDx event. To host a TEDx event you need to apply to TED for a license, meaning that you need to create an application that explains your event type, the name, the program, and more. Ideally you should actually get in touch with other experts in your field. This will help improve the likelihood of your event being selected, give you a great opportunity to network with some of the biggest names in your field, and of course, solidify your space as an industry leader.
Publish Articles to Industry Magazines
Another great way to get paid for what you know and to put yourself out there at the same time as a leader, is to create articles for the biggest magazines in your area. If you can, see if you can get published in academic journals as well. This can be a great way to make some money on the side, and it puts you front and center as one of the most knowledgeable in your field.
Creating these digital resources offers another incredibly important benefit: it puts your name out there as an industry leader. You are the name that shows up again and again, sharing key insights to those in your field. If you wanted to take your work freelance and work as a consultant, you could. You could apply for better positions, start your own company, or simply supplement your current income by offering your resources at a budget-friendly rate people will pay for.
Ongoing education offers so many opportunities for your life and your career. Pursue passions, satisfy your curiosity, expand your expertise – whatever you do, commit to learning something new every day. Your health, happiness, and career will thank you.