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Why You Should Strive to Be a Lifelong Learner

In an ever-changing market and world, it’s more important than ever to stay current, competitive and up to date.

Matt Mayberry

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Many people wonder what they can do to become well-rounded and competitive while increase their rate of success. An often overlooked yet simple way to improve is to increase your knowledge by being a self-starter.

Traditional, structured education is very important, yet much success is derived from highly motivated individuals that have dedicated their lives to the concept of lifelong learning. These individuals prioritise the creation of time in their busy lives each day to educate themselves on new concepts and ideas. These individuals understand the importance of creating plentiful opportunities in all spheres of life.

Related: 15 Free Online Courses That Are Actually Worth Your Time

Your business is only as strong as the people behind it. There’s a direct correlation between individuals who strive for growth in their personal lives and those who thrive in their professional lives. This can be accomplished by committing to the concept of lifelong learning. In an ever-changing market and world, it’s more important than ever to stay current, competitive and up to date.

Pursuit of knowledge is easier than it has ever been before, as technological advances can relay information instantaneously to our fingertips. It’s a modern day privilege to take this convenience and utilise it in productive ways.

First and foremost, you must be willing to expand your mind. Rid yourself of assumptions and convictions so that you can be open and receptive to new information.

This at times may even contradict what you have always believed to be true. You will eventually come across information that challenges your worldview. Rather than remaining static in your comfort zone, use this time to stop, reflect and shed light on these ideas in a way that can develop and expand your vision.

When you come across new information, take the time to think about what you believe and why. Is your outdated mindset preventing you from advancing in a modern world? Be willing to question new information and research it further. Digging deeper will separate you from the crowd and allow you to see the value in developing an independent mind.

Cultivating the mind prior to seeking information is as essential as cultivating a field prior to a harvest. It is a necessity to weed, fertilise and create space where information can blossom and grow.

As the soil of the Earth needs to be fed to blossom, our brains are the absorbent sponge waiting to be fed with new ideas and concepts. Water it daily to stimulate growth, and you will yield a bountiful harvest of information and knowledge.

After the mind has been prepped, the next step is application. Create a to-learn list just as you would a to-do list. These are ideas and concepts you have great interest in learning more about.

Many people may think with their hectic and already overflowing schedules there is simply no extra time to learn anything more than what is absolutely necessary to get through the mundane tasks of everyday life. To simply develop enough skill to adhere to your job description or be informed just enough to get by is a sure pathway to mediocrity.

This is where the self-starters get ahead. They understand the importance of time management and prioritising daily growth. They are constantly striving to know, learn and do more. This competitive edge they have created propels them to success in other areas of life.

Related: How Fortune 500 Leaders Spend Every Minute of the Day

There are many simple, effective and realistic ways to implement daily learning opportunities that do not have to inconvenience your life. Learning on the go has actually never been easier! For those who are auditory learners, audio books are the perfect way to incorporate knowledge with a simple press of the button.

While stuck in traffic on that 30-minute commute to and from work, simply play an audio book that suits your interest. Rather than listening to the same songs in rush hour, listen to a political debate on talk radio. If music is a passion of yours, try listening to music in another language.

Learning information you can utilise in your daily life is very important to having a continuous desire to further advance your education. Skill-based learning, for example, is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on auto maintenance isn’t the same as physically changing the oil or tire on your car.

Reading about art isn’t the same as picking up a brush. If your knowledge can be directly applied in a functional and fun fashion, put it into practice! Many people learn by being hands-on.

Make time one weekend to seek a mentor or attend a personal enrichment class. Culinary, fitness, dance or art classes are all fabulous ways to attain hands-on learning and experience. Volunteering at a shelter or children’s hospital are great ways to learn and culture yourself or your children and on worldly issues that may have otherwise been nonexistent to you.

Think about all the wasted time you spend sitting in doctors’ offices, waiting to pick the kids up from school or in a long check-out line. You could be reading a few pages of a book of your choosing. A simple 15 minutes a day could have you completing a new book every other week!

It’s estimated that Americans are spending 23 hours every week texting and on social media. Imagine spending that time every week on your craft or your personal enrichment. You could speak five languages and be a walking fountain of knowledge by changing your habits and mindset.

Surround yourself with like-minded individuals and try to always take something valuable away from your daily interactions. Many people are professionals in their field and have valuable information and insight to share. If you have questions, ask them! Never be too prideful, for each question you don’t ask is a missed opportunity!

Go ahead and challenge yourself today. Commit to expanding your mind, continuing your education and becoming a student of life. Utilise the world as your classroom, and no matter how big or small, always come away with a lesson.

Remember to cultivate your mind so it is prepared to expand, blossom and grow. And share your fountain of knowledge.

Related: 9 Things Successful People Won’t Do

My bet is you will slowly begin to notice you are not only achieving everything you are setting out to accomplish, but you have stimulated a perpetual hunger that drives you for more in both your personal and professional lives.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Matthew Mayberry is a former American Football linebacker for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. Matt is now an American motivational speaker and writer on the topics of success, leadership, motivation, and performance.

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“Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.

Wits Language School

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The Internet is currently abuzz with advertisements for “free” online language courses and online education. While developments in technology have undoubtedly created opportunities for more people to access education, the question still remains as to whether it is actually possible to learn a language solely with the use of an online platform. Whilst there are numerous advantages to using online platforms, there are equally as many disadvantages.

Online platforms are limited in their capacity to support group discussions, as well as the engagement with language facilitators and tutors. Many platforms are also unable to cope with the thousands of students that try to join online discussions. Language learners benefit greatly from human interaction within a classroom. Mark Edmundson (2012), an English professor at the University of Virginia, argued that online education creates a “monologue and not a real dialogue” in the learning environment.

Classroom environments allow learners to express their opinions, participate in debates, and engage in face-to-face interaction with classmates and their instructor.

Related: “Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

Language facilitators are responsible for explaining material, answering questions and guiding learning based on students’ needs and language levels in real time. From an online perspective, this resource becomes diluted, as often there exists back and forth communication between the student and the facilitator over an extended period of time. Within a classroom environment, learners are immersed in the language and encouraged to speak. Learning takes place in a pro-active way with a balance of learner-facilitator interaction and group work. Language learners receive undivided attention from the facilitator, and the pace and content of the tuition is thus tailored to the learner accordingly.

Two of the benefits of online courses are that they offer flexibility and convenient accessibility; however, they also require a greater amount of self-discipline, reading and time-management skills. Online courses tend to make it easier to procrastinate and they create a sense of isolation. These elements are not conducive to successful language learning. Motivation levels are likely to decrease when using online platforms, as learners have no real external influences to help keep them motivated and inspired.

The quality and accreditation of online language courses is also a concern to most learners, as many online courses lack valid accreditation and certification. It is crucial to enrol in a course that provides legitimate information and that is accredited with a relevant board or organisation. A course that does not provide valid accreditation will serve no purpose or advantage to the learner.

Wits Language School was established in 1997 and forms part of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the last 19 years, the school has built a reputation for providing high-quality language services and short learning programmes in a dynamic and international learning environment. Wits Language School endorses interactive teaching styles, uses up-to-date teaching methods, and employs experienced and highly qualified teachers who are mother-tongue speakers to assist all participants in their quest to learn a second language.

Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.

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Rethinking Learning In The 21st Century

The changing world of work has disrupted the three elements of the traditional ‘career’: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

Wits Plus

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Vital Stats

Traditionally the concept of a ‘career’ was considered to include three elements:

  1. A career represented our expertise, our profession, and ultimately our identity.
  2. A career was something that built over time and endured. It gave us the opportunity to progress and advance.
  3. A career gave us financial and psychological rewards. It made life meaningful and paid us enough to live well.

The changing world of work has disrupted all three elements: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

A career can now be as long as 60 years; at the same time, due to rapid advancements in technology and the changes that bring about in the workplace, skill sets can become obsolete in as little as five years.

Increasingly, companies need to rethink the way in which careers are managed and learning opportunities are delivered, and many have already begun to overhaul their career models and L&D (Learning and Development) infrastructure in line with the digital age.

Related: Your Investment In Knowledge

Employees’ learning behaviour is also changing. In the past, employees were able to obtain the skills required for their career early on and as a once-off; now, the career itself is a journey of learning, up-skilling, re-skilling and continuous reinvention to remain relevant and to thrive in the changing world of work.

Older employees who studied at a time where most of one’s learning occurred prior to entering the workplace, find themselves working alongside millennials who place greater value on learning and progression rather than on earning potential as a first priority.

Eighty-three percent of the respondents surveyed in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey say their organisations are shifting to flexible, open career models that offer enriching assignments, projects, and experiences rather than a static career progression.

However, in today’s fast-paced business world, even if companies are restructuring L&D delivery, no one is going to make you engage in a strategy that is essential to your future success – continuous learning. You will have to take the initiative yourself.

Noted self-help expert W. Clement Stone, in his many writings on this topic, recommended that one spends anywhere from a half-hour to two hours a day in study and thinking time. This tireless dedication, combined with an insatiable curiosity, will equip you to excel in the future world of work. What’s more, learning new skills and knowledge can be fun!

The good news for both companies and for employees is that an explosion of high-quality content and digital delivery models offers employees ready access to continuous learning. The Wits DigitalCampus offers a range of accredited and fully online short courses to support your continuous learning.

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Company Posts

Your Investment In Knowledge

When you understand the value of knowledge, in this world where technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper (and even free), it’s just a matter of getting more of it. Dedicate yourself to constant learning!

Wits Plus

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Vital Stats

Most people spend their lives collecting, spending, and worrying about money — so much so, in fact, that they say they “don’t have time” to learn something new.

However, some of smartest and busiest people in the world — Barack Obama, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates — all spend at least one hour a day on deliberate learning. They see what others don’t: That learning is the single best investment of our time that we can make. As Benjamin Franklin said long ago, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

When you understand the value of knowledge, in this world where technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper (and even free), it’s just a matter of getting more of it. Dedicate yourself to constant learning!

One of the very benefits of ongoing technological advances is that it empowers an accelerated and personalised learning experience that puts the learner in the driver’s seat. Modern learning harnesses the speed, power and ubiquity of digital capability. Online platforms, software and mobile devices means that the traditional hurdles to learning — such as income, status and location — have just about disappeared. Knowledge can now be gained by anyone with the passion to pursue it and the commitment to stick with it.

Related: Building Customer Relationships

We are only at the tipping point of what future learning technology can deliver. Artificial intelligence (AI) will transform all aspects of human capital management, including learning. Technology-enabled learning will be immediate and directly relevant to the task, for example:

  • personally tailored learning content and experiences delivered to you as and when you want or need them
  • chatbots and virtual assistants can source and categorise the information that you need for optimal decision-making
  • augmented and virtual reality simulations can provide a multi-sensory experience to speed up and embed learning.

Additionally, social connectivity already enables user-generated content to outpace and outstrip what traditional education and learning institutions can deliver.

Knowledge may be the new money but, unlike money, you don’t lose it when you use knowledge or give it away. Transferring knowledge anywhere in the world is free and instant. It’s fun to acquire and it makes your brain work better. It helps you think bigger and beyond your circumstances. It puts your life in perspective by essentially helping you live many lives in one life through other people’s experiences and wisdom.

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