Sep 6, 2011

Can you learn from the Internet

sarvepalli_radhakrishnanImage by surojitbasak2007 via FlickrYesterday was Teachers' Day in India. It's in honor of President S Radhakrishnan who was a teacher. I remember 5th September being the day we would wait in school as we could get to be Teachers and our normally strict teachers would smile and joke and (gasp!) actually seem human ;-)

Yesterday, reminiscing about who all have taught me I thought about my parents, school teachers, teachers from college, bosses, colleagues, friends who had taught be not just knowledge but the difficult lessons too - of self reflection, introspection and the value of finding the answers by myself.

But over the last few years, my circle of teachers has expanded - to include people who are often strangers - sharing their own journeys and showing perspectives for me to learn from. Yes, you guessed it right - I have a plethora of teachers that is ever expanding thanks to the internet

So the question of whether one can learn from the internet - is yes, provided you do it with focus and dedication.

Here's what has worked for me:

  1. Finding out the communities where people share knowledge relevant for me. This does not usually mean Facebook - where friends share personal photos and thoughts - but specific industry content places.
  2. Finding out experts - these are not just folks like Tom Peters, but new emerging voices who will be the thought leaders of the future like Nilofer Merchant and Umair Haque
  3. Discovering peers with shared interesting (from point 1)
  4. Sharing one's own experience and articulating my own learning can trigger others to share their opinions and learning.
  5. Discover your own learning preference. Do you learn better by reading models or experiences. Do you like to listen (to podcasts) or to see (diagrams, animation and video) or by playing (simulation, games, quizzes) ?
So yes, you can learn from the internet, if you find great people at the other end. Discovering these people would be a skill many would have to learn
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