March 31, 2009
What Do You Learn Online?
Lifehacker’s Top 10 Tools For A Free Online Education reminds me a little of the experience I had a year or so ago browsing The Pirate Bay’s top-seeded e-books; a lot of computer programming and software manuals, a handful of natural language lessons, and weird DIY hacks stuff, like instructions on how to build your own solar panels or break out of handcuffs.
Anyways, it strikes me that whether officially or unofficially, plenty of people are trying to learn things using the web, and plenty of other people are working, compiling, and disseminating information to try to help people learn. Some of this is raw information, but a surprising amount is explicitly pedagogical: tips, tutorials, how-tos, complete guides. Whether it’s how to beat a Zelda boss or how to get a web server working, people want to teach other, anonymous people how to do it.
I call this practice and this instinct digital humanism, and it is a big part of what the new liberal arts are all about.
I wonder: what do you try to learn online? Or more to the point, what DON’T you try to learn online? either because you don’t find what you’re looking for there, or because you don’t look? Have you ever taught someone how to do something? Prepared a guide, manual, or walkthrough? Do you have trusted sources, portals, and networks, or do you go straight to Google? What’s the value that you get from it? What, if anything, is missing?