Thursday, October 15, 2015

October Observations - Happy Lifelong Learning Day!

This is the first screen in the brief "Lifelong Learning Day" video - what a fit with my "ten year thing"!
Yesterday I posted a brief note observing the 10-year anniversary of my final day of work at HP (see "Ten Years After"). It was a simple "milestone" post, about an anniversary I did not want to pass unnoticed. But about the same time I was prepping the post, I heard an NPR underwriting announcement from Road Scholar, with the news that today (October 15) is the inaugural National Lifelong Learning Day, which they sponsor.

Road Scholar is a 40-year-old organization based in Boston, billing itself as "the world's largest educational travel organization for adults", and while I have yet to take one of their trips, I have been well aware of several and hope to join one of their adventures sometime in the near future. And when I sought out a little more information about Lifelong Learners Day and found a YouTube video (screenshot above), I was a bit stunned, and pleased, to see their reference to learning and "ten years from now" -- looking back at my post-HP decade, learning has been a continuous theme for me.

On-the-job-learning

Of course, becoming a columnist/blogger/analyst in the printing and imaging industry was a huge part of my past ten years, and commenced almost immediately after leaving the corporate world. While I had a great deal of industry knowledge to apply from the beginning, learning the ropes of traditional hard-copy newsletter reporting (writing style, editing cycles, deadlines, etc.) was a challenge. And that was followed almost immediately by setting up and publishing my own independent blog (this one), and evolving with social media including becoming fairly expert on many of the latest and greatest platforms. But I will have more on that journey in next month's Observations.

Learning to teach

Within a year of leaving HP, I was fortunate to have a fellow company alum who left the same time I did (it helped that he was a long-time friend as well) guide me into the world of college-level teaching with the University of Phoenix. Based on my career background and MBA-level education, I was deemed qualified to teach both undergraduate and graduate Marketing and Economics, at both our local on-ground campus as well as online, following successful completion of an excellent faculty training program. 80+ courses later, I still learn a great deal about my subjects during each course, and am very grateful for the continuing opportunity to pass along a little of what I've learned throughout my education and career to younger generations. Plus, the pressure to "know your stuff" when lecturing or grading papers does wonders for motivation for getting caught with your subject!

Class Central provides a good starting point for learning about upcoming MOOCs

The mad, mad world of MOOCs

Eager to build my skills, and also just plain curious to be on the other side of the online learning equation (i.e. being a student), I have enrolled in and completed more than 30 Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC's) over the last four years. Also, the value of enrolling and completing can be overstated - in addition to everything I've learned from those successfully completed courses, I've also learned a ton from some of those enrolled-but-not-completed choices too!

My full list can be seen via my LinkedIn profile, but highlights via (mostly) Coursera and EdX include a variety of content areas, including subjects which I could use to supplement my teaching (see above), and also refreshing my skills in the ever-expanding world of data science. I majored in Quantitative Methods while earning my BS at University of Oregon, way back when, and then a Marketing/Econometrics emphasis at Cornell's Johnson School where I received my MBA in 1981. As I discovered (and am still finding out), lots of what I learned (no surprise) has advanced significantly. At the same time, I am bolstered by the fact that I have a pretty good foundation - even as regression analysis no longer requires a four-function calculator and lots of scratch paper! (More coming on this in future blog posts also.)

Osher Institute

As I wind up this look at my personal lifelong learning journey over the last ten years, I must mention my hometown resource that I continue to enjoy. That is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Boise State University. The program offers classroom experiences for the 50+ crowd, with some of our area's leading professors (from BSU and elswhere), as well as with leading experts from beyond academia. The offering is rich and diverse, and just today (Lifelong Learning Day!) I will be spending two hours in the morning in an "Art, Architecture and Culture of Venice" course, as well as two hours in the afternoon attending the middle of five weeks' worth of lectures on the "History of London since 1666".

In conclusion

I am committed to learning more in the next ten years, to answer the question from the Road Scholar video! Organizing my thoughts and experiences enough to record them here in what I hope is a reasonably cognizant fashion has been a pleasurable if somewhat indulgent exercise. But I hope too that at least some readers can find a tip or two here to facilitate their own paths of lifelong learning!

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