Never stop learning

June 18, 2014

I don’t think I’ve ever been a traditional learner. In high school I didn’t pay too much attention in class, since most of the time I was playing on the computer and learning to build my first websites. My motto in high school was that a C was enough and my priority was to spend as much time on the computer as possible. That continued in college, when I started my own webdevelopment business in the second year. Sometimes I wonder if I should have payed more attention to classes back then, but I know that if I had, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Most of the things I’ve learned, I learned from experience. Of course I also got a lot of knowledge at school and in college, but especially in the area of webdevelopment I learned most by just trying things. I read something online and then tried it out myself. Today starting with learning programming is even easier than when I started. There are great resources out there like Codecademy (free) and Codeschool (payed). I think almost every programmer I know started with simply copy-pasting code from others and built on top of that. Same for designing: you look at work from others, you decide what you like and then make it yourself with your own twist. You try something, you learn, you grow and while doing that you can also teach and inspire other people.

Having stated that learning from experience is important, these days I highly value learning from books too. Experience will teach you a lot, but often you also need some knowledge. I think a good balance of theory and practice is essential for full understanding. Books and eBooks are quite affordable and with many online reviews like on Amazon or Goodreads, it’s a lot easier to find out which are the good books before you buy them. There are more ways to get knowledge than reading. I often say that you can also learn almost anything from Youtube if you want.

I’m really thankful to be living in this time, since we have so much knowledge available. There is no excuse not to know something anymore, since you can find practically everything on the internet. I’m a big fan of projects like Coursera, Udacity and Edx that offer courses from well-known universities like Harvard or Stanford for free. I think it’s fantastic that money is no longer a limiting factor if you want to study a topic of your interest. Almost whatever you want to learn, you can find on the internet. That totally excites me!

With so much knowledge available I think there are two challenges left: deciding what you like to learn and finding the discipline to focus on that topic. There is an overflow of data and you can’t read and watch it all, so you have to choose what it is that you want to learn. Of course you can switch just as easy if it doesn’t turn out to be what you expected, though I think that once you know what you want to learn at this moment, it’s good to stick with it for a while so you can go deeper and get a good understanding of the topic.

It’s a great time to live for people that want to learn. The internet offers so much knowledge from so many sources all over the world. I think to be successful in life it’s essential that you always keep learning. What do you want to learn? Go for it and never stop learning!


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