How to Be a Digital Diva at Work: Five DIY Learning Tools for the Internet Age
March 03, 2017
The digital revolution is changing how we work, and the pace of change is only getting faster. Which is why companies today need workers who are ready to take a DIY approach to upgrading their skills.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out: we all want to grow, and we all need to adapt.
Maybe you’d like to improve your workflow by mastering some snappy new software. Or perhaps you want to have better conversations with your company’s product and IT teams, and that means picking up some basic coding skills. Or you might simply want to become a better team leader.
Whatever it is you want to learn, the Cloud’s the limit. (Which is to say, there’s no limit at all.)
If you’re ready to start elevating your digital know-how, here are five online learning tools that will help you get there.
By partnering with universities, museums, and trusts, Coursera offers online classes on a wide range of subjects. You can earn degrees and professional certifications from its catalogue of free courses, while paying users gain access to extras like video lectures, auto-grading, and discussion boards. The courses often demand a strong time-commitment, which may be challenging for people who already stretched thin.
Tips: There are many free lessons, but be prepared to spend $29-$99 for the best material. You can also enroll in specializations for $250-$500. Earning a complete degree will cost $15,000-$25,000.
Suggested courses: Data Science specialization from Johns Hopkins University; Design Thinking for Innovation course from University of Virginia; Learn to Program: The Fundamentals course from University of Toronto.
Like Coursera, Udemy is worldwide educational marketplace with a wide range of courses. The site serves 15 million students with 40,000 courses by 20,000 trainers. The courses are offered on-demand, so you can study at your own pace. There are free courses as well as more in-depth paid material.
Tips: Udemy is a good choice for soft skills training, as well as technical skills. It has a large catalogue of materials for self-improvement topics like leadership training and personal finance, as well as courses for workers seeking to improve their digital skills.
With over 25 million users worldwide, Codecademy is a popular resource for anyone who wants to learn coding. Codecademy uses a live practise format, allowing users to look at the course material while they work on their coding skills. (The format might not work for those who prefer instructional videos—there aren’t any.) The website design and dashboard interface make it easy to track your progress and search for new courses. There’s no fee, and for the highly ambitious, you can learn as many as twelve different programming languages.
Tips: Although it’s free, signing up for a Pro account provides extras like personalized learning plans, quizzes, and projects.
For 20 years, Lynda.com has been teaching people design, IT, and multimedia techniques. The basic membership ($19.99 per month) gives you unlimited access. A premium account ($29.99 per month) also provides offline viewing, and project files that allow you to practise what you learned.
Lynda is the only service on this list that provides unlimited access, so once you’ve paid the flat fee, you don’t need to pay for individual courses. That’s good if you envision learning multiple subjects or progressing from beginner to advanced in a domain. The video and audio material is high quality, and each course comes with a transcript.
Tips: Lynda is a good choice if you want to go in-depth on multimedia or online marketing techniques like Adobe Photoshop, SEO, or website design.,
Suggested Courses: Data Science Teams: Telling Stories with Data (77min); Monday Productivity Pointers (weekly series on being productive with technology); Rapid Prototyping for Product Design (98min)
Khan Academy is a non-profit company that partners with secondary schools and major institutions like NASA and the Museum of Modern Art. Its database contains over 100,000 courses in a wide range of subjects, from biology to coding. The service is free, and you don’t need to create an account. Like Udemy, courses are available on-demand, so you can study on your own schedule.
Tips: College and test prep courses are also available, which will appeal to students. It’s also a useful resource for anyone who needs to brush up on some basic math skills.
Suggested Courses: Algorithms (introductory course for computer science with articles, visualizations, quizzes, and coding challenges); Interviews with Entrepreneurs (17 entrepreneurs offer detailed insights).
Lastly, anyone looking for a fun and basic introduction to digital skills like coding might want to start with the free activities available on Actua’s website. Actua is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing youth with educational opportunities related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Throughout 2017, Actua’s Maker Mobile Tour is delivering tech workshops in towns and cities across Canada.