Online Learning

Tracy Roesler bio photo By Tracy Roesler Comment

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unsplash-logoÉmile Perron

It’s been about two months now since I started my sabbatical. It’s been an interesting time – but probably not the most productive. Although, I’m not entirely sure how “productive” a sabbatical is supposed to be. I have been sick twice. There were the holidays. I’ve spent a decent amount of time doing laundry, washing dishes, writing blogs.

I’ve found that, especially since it’s winter, I have needed something to do that’s made me feel productive – for at least an hour a day. I am going to start volunteering at a museum soon, but in the meantime, I’ve been spending some time leveraging LinuxAcademy to learn new things.

LinuxAcademy is one of the many places online where you can learn to do technology. It’s a paid service, so first, I’d like to address all the places where you can learn for free.

There are a bunch of resources out there which offer free classes (and many of them with premium content you can pay for) – from EDX, Khan Academy, and coursera (go JHU!), which offer classes in many different fields, to udacity, which specializes in tech. There are also code specific learnings online like codecademy, for learning new languages online, and code wars, for beefing up your coding skills, with an emphasis on creativity and shortcuts, Code, which includes classes for K-12 as well as adults, and freeCodeCamp, a platform designed to help with web design specifically.

Some colleges have taken Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to a deeper level. Harvard and MIT, which helped found the edx platform, offer the most, but MIT has gone even further with MIT’s Opencourseware, a site separate from edx with even more content. Harvard has its own section in edx, called HarvardX, in case you just want to see their offerings.

LinuxAcademy is one of many pay-for services, with a decided slant towards operations. They have many, many different classes and trainings for certifications. I’ve previously worked my way through the Red Hat System Administrator Certification, and the Docker deep dive when I wanted to get to know a little bit more about docker before my last job.

Right now, I’m working my way through the AWS Certified Solutions Architect class – and I’m really enjoying it. They have a mixture of both short videos, quizzes, and labs in a real AWS environment. They also have really good study material organized visually through something they call “the Orion papers”.

I’ve really enjoyed my coursework on LinuxAcademy, which says a lot because I did most of MBA online, and I’ve taken several other online MOOCs and had a lot of trouble staying engaged. Plus, it keeps me semi-active and learning in the tech scene, for when I want to go back to work, provided tech is where I want to go.

There are a lot of other pay-to-learn services, such as treehouse, which offers a free 7 day trial, or udemy, which is a more expensive product with a larger range of offerings, but I’m happy with the one I’ve been using, and it’s more align with the niche field in which I have been focusing.

I think the key component to all these learning opportunities is flexibility. If you feel you need to bone up, or learn new skills, you can take advantage of them, and either for free or relatively cheaply. Technology has become a place that’s learned outside of the classic classroom, and avails itself much more to your schedule.

Online learning is great for any way you like to learn – like this:

unsplash-logoWilliam Iven



or, apparently, even if you learn like this (according to photo tagging):

unsplash-logoMickael Gresset

(If you have some spare time, it looks like you can help unsplash tag images, to prevent this kinds of situations in the future.)

So don’t be afraid to take some online courses and see what you think. Plus, if you’re on sabbatical, it helps to make it look like you’re actually accomplishing something.

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