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These 5 Skills Are Actually Better Off Being Learned Online

These 5 Skills Are Actually Better Off Being Learned Online

Today, we use the Internet for pretty much everything: research, communicating, writing – so why should learning be any different? If you’re afraid that online education is inferior to face-to-face education, don’t be. In 2011, Babson found that online education is considered as good or better by more than 85% of US students.

The following 5 skills will add immeasurable value to your repertoire, all accessible from the comfort of your home.

1. Coding

In the lost interview with Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder was quoted saying “I think everyone in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you to think.”

Coding is a lot like applied science and math because it teaches you a repetitious method to solving problems and testing out new ideas. Coding isn’t especially easy to learn but that’s what makes it such an invaluable skill.

There are plenty of ways to learn coding online, one of the more popular options is here. There are several different courses offered such as JavaScript, Web Fundamentals, PHP, Ruby,  jQuery, Python, and APIs. Within every lesson is an explanation of the fundamental code and instructions.

Another panel provides an opportunity for you to try your hand at coding while also confirming that you’re doing it correctly. With hints and warnings of potential errors, it feels as though you are being guided through the learning experience with a personal tutor.

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2. Piano

I know what you’re thinking: how can learning piano online be any better than sitting down and learning in front of an actual piano? Well, there are several benefits. First, it’s much cheaper. Typically, a 1-hour class ranges from $50 to $250 depending on the teacher, this can range between $2,400 to $12,000 per year! In contrast, compare this to an App or platform such as this one, which is only $59.95 per year.

In addition, online piano classes help teach students to play their favorite songs, learn to play by ear, improvise, and even create their own music – doesn’t that sound better than a piano teacher breathing down your neck telling you that you missed a beat? In fact, the piano online education market has doubled since 2006, according to Google Trends’ search query volume statistics.

3. Language

There are thousands of reasons why we should learn foreign languages. In addition to impressing that cute girl at the bar, learning a new language will boost your confidence, increase your brain power, improve your decision making skills, and open your mind to empathizing with and discovering new cultures. It also makes traveling easier and more enjoyable – imagine being able to ask a Parisian which way the Arc de Triomf is in a perfect French accent.

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If you learn it online instead of sitting in a classroom at nights, you’ll be able to pick up the language much quicker. There are several reasons for this. First, unfortunately, classes typically move at the speed of the slowest learner. There are more levels than just beginner, intermediate, and advanced, but most classes don’t cater to those in between the main three.

Second, language fluency and conversation cannot be taught in a classroom, or anywhere besides a one-on-one environment where you are forced to adapt to a normal conversational speed. In the meantime, download an app or watch some YouTube videos. It will enable you to learn on your own time, which will go quicker than you think.

4. Excel

Microsoft Excel is something everyone should learn. It’s not only for brilliant financial analysts – it’s also good for budgeting personal finance, organizing client lists, planning social gatherings, assessing students, and pretty much anything that requires numbers. In truth, any person, from a stay-at-home parent to a small business owner, can benefit from learning Excel. It’d help you save massive amounts of time automating complex formulas and organizing information.

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In seconds, you can calculate a quick budget, see which students are performing better than others, contemplate how many more miles you need to run this week to reach your dream weight, etc. It’s much more intuitive than most people give it credit for – a quick online course can teach you the basics and help you learn from there. I’m sure, you’ll be making spreadsheets in no time.

5. Photography

Photographs serve an important purpose in our lives. By taking photos we have the ability to preserve a memory for eternity and share our world and past with the people we love. Learning a little bit of photography is a skill that everyone can benefit from.

Photography is also a form of creative expression. They say a photo is worth one thousand words so the images you capture tell a story. By taking an online photography class, you have the opportunity to learn new skills from the comfort of your home than can be an asset to both your personal and professional life.

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Whether you’re interested in photojournalism, street photography or just capturing family photos, every moment is an opportunity to tell a story.

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Yoav Vilner

CEO at Ranky

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How to Fight Information Overload

How to Fight Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Decide whether you really need the information.
  3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
  4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

The Nature of the Problem

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

Why information overload is bad

It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

1. Set your goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. What to do when facing new information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

3. Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

In Closing

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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