During the bootcamp experience at Praxis, our participants often take on several self-directed learning projects to gain the skills they want to develop and showcase via their portfolios. Self-directed learning is a skill in itself that takes discipline, project planning, and commitment. Fortunately, hunting down resources is much easier now with the abundance of resources available online! These are our top 5 sources for beginning your self-directed learning journey building any skillset you are interested in developing.
Udemy is a hub of content creators, experts, and teachers of almost any skillset you can think of. Creators and teachers of all backgrounds create their own courses and course materials to be available worldwide on the Udemy database. Under each category of courses, you are sure to find a multitude of courses of the same subject — meaning there are no shortage of options available to you! One of the great features of Udemy is the highly active review and comment section under courses. This is one of the best ways to determine which course is a good fit for you. Most Udemy courses are not free, however, Udemy constantly offers sales prices on its courses. If you see a course you like but aren’t too fond of the price, odds are within two weeks time the course will drop to a sales price. By signing up for their email list you’ll be sure to stay on top of all the price drops and sales announcements!
Reddit is a 100% free discussion website very useful for finding information on every subject under the sun. Organized by different categories and topics called “subreddits”, you’re sure to find a sub-community based around the exact skillset you’re trying to develop. It’s important to keep in mind that not all the information on Reddit is verified so it’s important to take any knowledge presented with caution. However, Reddit’s strength is in its ability to be a gathering ground of other sources and knowledge bases. When a strong community forms on a subreddit, the admin(s) of that community will often put together a sort of foundational knowledge page for all newcomers of that topic. These are exceptionally useful for beginning your trek into a new skill set as well as helping you form questions to ask within the subreddit community later on.
Youtube has been known as one of the top spots for reliable, self-teaching resources for many years. That hasn’t changed, but the way we find that information within its database has. With more and more content creators jumping onto the Youtube platform, knowing how to find the videos you need can be difficult. We recommend using Channel Crawler as an easier way to sift through all the channels hidden within the massive Youtube database! Often the best Youtube teaching resources are “niche channels” meaning channels dedicated entirely to one specific subject. Youtube is also very useful in the way of watching personal experiences of people going through the same learning journey and progress as you.
BigThink is a multimedia platform that is comprised of a collection of interviews, presentations, and roundtable discussions from experts of a wide range of fields. BigThink is a huge advocate of the self-teaching movement. In addition to their impressive collection of sources, they also write and publish many articles about different methods for self-teaching and its benefits. Their YouTube channel is another impressive collection of knowledge that offers on demand video knowledge and information on the self-teaching world!
A not so obvious choice, but your blog serves as a great resource for supporting your self-directed learning journey. One of the most forgotten elements of self-teaching is the process of documentation. Documenting your learning journey serves as a motivation element as well as an easy way to stay organized and on top of your progress. Similar to the effect of watching a Youtuber’s journey through learning a specific skill, you can produce that same effect for yourself through something as simple as a series of blog posts or videos. So often we begin a new skill with high motivation and inspiration only to find that those feelings dwindle as the learning process proves difficult. By documenting through blogging of some form, those feelings of motivation and inspiration become easier to sustain and the progress of your developing skills quickens!
Once you discover your tried and true method for approaching any self-directed learning subject, that skill in itself will prove useful in work, classrooms, and your everyday life. Any leader of their field has had to teach themselves to take their learning outside of traditional methods and find new avenues for gathering and practicing knowledge. Whatever skillset or knowledge you may be trying to develop for yourself, don’t be afraid to experiment, discover new sources for yourself, and above all, enjoy the process!