New ways to learn the skills that you need

Today’s learning is far different than when I went to school but I like the instant access the web has given us today for learning and grasping new technologies. With that in mind there are now a number of websites that you can sign up on and learn programming languages or even take business courses. These new ways can even be a factor in developing a skilled workforce from within your organization.

The following ones are great for entrepreneurs, business owners, front and back office personnel:

  • Udemy – They provide online learning for a number of different things from the arts to the humanities and everything in between. As far as learning is concerned it seems to be the most well-rounded set of offerings available on the web to date for continuous learners and it includes both paid and free courses.
  • Codecademy – More focused on the programming languages used on the web, JavaScript, Python, Ruby and XHTML (HTML) and CSS. This is a great site since you do not have to buy any additional software and the site uses various learning techniques to help you learn programming, to date one of my favorites and free for the most part.
  • Udacity – Mostly programming courses, very structured and intense, this site is currently offering a very limited set of courses but very intense and definitely for those who want or yearn higher level learning, not just the standard web development stuff, comes with homework and quizzes.
  • Gurushare – You can learn some of the older school technology here, like Crystal Reports XI and FreeMind, two programs that I use for business but it lacks many of the new applications and while I like it personally, I am not sure that it can sustain itself amidst all the other platforms for learning that are being develop and that are supported by stronger and younger communities.

These are great for learners of all ages and literacy levels:

  • Khan Academy – This is the grand daddy of the learning sites, Khan Academy site has one of the strongest communities available, it is free and the video lessons are used by brick and mortar schools all over the country. Lessons can be viewed on YouTube and iTunes alike and they can also be downloaded for later viewing using a Bit Torrent client. Their official Bit Torrent client is utorrent which can be downloaded for free (Check for system requirements, but as of this post, only available for windows). Mostly used by schools but math and knowledge of concepts will benefit you, no matter where you find yourself.
  • GCFLearnFree – This is probably one of the oldest ones on the web and probably still one of the most well-rounded ones in the whole bunch. The Goodwill Community Foundation, has one mission and that is to make people employable, so I give this site thumbs-up for their mission statement and the combination of text/images and videos makes this one of the most user friendly sites for all ages as well as for most literacy levels available. This site also includes learning social media and can be viewed on mobile devices as well.

There are many other learning sites out there, some are worth a look others are not. Google or use the BingĀ  search engine to seek out free learning sites and take a look at the different ones available, many follow similar styles of training others are almost nothing but text and images.

There are plenty of paid sites available which do offer good training but before you make the investment in time or money, check out the free ones first. What I learn is that online learning while good does not work for everyone, but before you make a monetary investment try it out for free first and that way you can determine if this type of learning works out best for you.

Keep in mind that if you are an employer, this could be a viable option for your employees. Many have laptops and can easily access these during their lunch hour. You can also set up rooms where after work they can logged in and take courses to increase their productivity, increase their skill levels and help them to qualify for higher paying positions within your organization.




What did I think of Blog World?


Blog World Expo

First of all let’s say that I enjoyed attending. I have to say that the energy was there, plenty of lively discussions and so overall I say it was good to be there. I was impressed by the number of people that the show attracted. I think that the show is on the right track helping this form of media become understandable to the masses. I also felt that there is a over-saturating of the marketplace but we will get to that in a minute.

The bad news is that the event still has a long way to go, it is still in its infancy. After talking to a few social media firms there are still areas where the medium has not caught up as well. For instance we are a B2B company and while blogging is well along the way in the retail environment engaging the consumer. It still is little understood how it will impact the small and medium B2B companies who are trying to engage a much smaller defined universe of people. Many of the firms that I spoke with had two basic models:

  1. Mom and pop bloggers (plenty of them attended)
  2. Big companies with massive budgets for social media (Sony for example)

For these two groups it all makes sense. The mom and pop bloggers reach a finite audience that deals with health foods, pets, vitamins, foods, hobbies and enthusiasts. The Big companies have tens of thousands if not millions of consumers buying their products. So blogging is like having instant focus groups and users testing out products and if developed correctly creates a big R&D department which helps these large corporations understand consumer needs and wants as well as develop unique quality products that fulfill the consumer demand. So for them blogging is great.

For the small-to-medium company that targets other like businesses the picture isn’t clear at least not yet. While the value is there, creating not only relevant content but building a system that helps engage other small-to-medium companies is still not clearly understood. Everyone will try to sell you a solution, they will say this and that but under the microscope it becomes fluff and snake oil. All approaches are not the same, there are millions of blogs with tens of millions of pieces of content that are constantly posted online, there are millions of blogs not even reaching their market. If everyone was making money through blogging it would be great but that will never happen.

The reality is that blogging is more about engaging than making money, its about value-added services that can be implemented after the sale of let’s say raw materials. It is a form of customer service that can be rendered to the end-users, especially if they have questions about the usage of a certain product and its application. It is about posting information that will benefit the end-user or purchaser of the product. It allows smaller companies to build a sort of knowledge base or help section to their clients. It can be forum-based where engineers can post information regarding applications, their design and development process. It can help one understand why the product is needed and the benefits such product brings to the end-user.

I believe that blogging will become a media that will over saturate the Internet if it has not already but building a system that engages your clients or customers will continue to grow and become useful to those who rely on it. I am not a fan of all these social media companies as well as most of the people that run these events, though I enjoy attending. My reasoning is that they will all tell you how great the media is, and why not it is their bread and butter. I prefer someone who is going to dissect the media and tell me there are still areas that need to be define and there needs to be a purging of the fluff and snake oil that has become part of the media for it to be truly helpful to small and medium businesses alike.

That was my overall impression and from personal experience I have had plenty of companies call me regarding blogging applications but blogging for the sake of it is useless, unless there is an intended audience with useful and relevant content that will truly benefit the end-user.

For some more thoughts on Blog World read Nathan Lowell’s post on Blog World at: blog-world-and-new-media-expo

Tell me what you think?