Learning through traditional academic channels was among my greatest joys until it became a choice between paying the tuition and saving for retirement. Happily, the Internet serves up an incredible variety of free professional development opportunities. In this column, The Way Forward will introduce or help you recall some great resources.
Academic Earth features video lectures from top universities including Oxford, Berkeley, MIT, Yale, and Stanford. When browsing selections, pay attention to the offerings under “Entrepreneurship” – many great topics relevant to anyone growing within their current roles or perhaps starting something new. A personal favorite: The Entrepreneurial Career: Taking Risks and Putting Your Plan into Action with Gregory Waldorf, ceo of eHarmony. Key takeaway: Your career will invariably not go according to plan so make adaptability a core skill.
iTunes U pulls together free audio and video learning resources from 600+ universities around the world (free iTunes software required). More broadly, content is available from cultural institutions ranging from PBS to Asia Society. Apple permits institutions to apply for their own iTunes U site so it may be a great new way to reach your client base. For inspiration, visit Arizona State University Libraries’ video channel – everything from book discussions to copyright guidance and introductions to library services.
OpenCourseWare is a collection of free university-level material from top institutions around the world. Topics run the gamut; from digital libraries (University of Michigan) to online marketing (University of Cape Town) with content available in seven languages. Consider OCW when you want to sample topics from a variety of disciplines and cultural perspectives.
OpenLearn LearningSpace is a repository of The Open University (United Kingdom) course material. A nice feature of this site is the opportunity to join a topic forum and connect with others pursuing self-paced studies. Course content is offered to meet a variety of skill levels so be prepared to browse for more advanced material. You may wish to start with “Business and Management” for how-to presentations on project management, decision-making, and communication.
Professional development cannot happen without personal growth and a fascinating one-stop resource is BBC Learning. Material is organized by topic and audience so you can browse for hours. To filter out in-person learning, go straight to the online courses for adult learners. The most robust section will be the language instruction – 12-week courses in French, German, Italian, and Spanish PLUS information on 32 additional languages. Helpful when you are preparing to travel or greet colleagues from around the world.
Editor's note: This series originally published in the DC/SLA chapter newsletter Chapter Notes.