My Virtual Education

Inspired by this article (h/t Ezra Klein), I’ve been thinking a lot about my learning vs. my education. My fancy book-learning education will be up in two weeks; in return for $30,000 in student loans I’ll get a piece of paper (fancy paper) that says I learned finance and how to be an entrepreneur from a stellar public university.*

But I can’t help but think that the vast majority of what I’ve actually learned has been a result of my involvement in different student organizations, reading books and blogs, arguing with friends, etc. Even the skills that I think will give me the best shot at being successful in life – communicating, leading, problem-solving – have been a factor more of my involvement in outside-of-class learning.

In any event, here are a few of the things that I’m currently utilizing to continue my education virtually:

Open Yale Courses: Yale puts many of its popular courses online for download (audio and video, depending on your preference). Many, many schools do this – go to iTunes U and search around for your favorite topics. I’m currently listening to Game Theory, Financial Markets (taught by Robert Shiller), and The Politics of Food. Perfect for putting on an iPod and listening to while working out/running.

TED Talks: Great 20-minute talks by some of the smartest people around. Someone compiled 10 TED Talks for Entrepreneurs that I’m working my way through. You can find these on iTunes as well – just subscribe to the podcast and listen to ones you’re interested in. Again, perfect to watch/listen to while working out/running.

-Blogs. Blogroll is to the right of this post – I’ll probably post about some of my favorites later. As I’ve mentioned before, Google Reader is indispensable – I can skim hundreds of posts a day to find things worth reading.

UW-Madison Libraries. Really. Those of us who are students at UW-Madison have access to thousands of journals, papers, and more, all electronic and accessible from your home laptop. Some of my favorites: Journal of American Medicine; Health Affairs; and Modern Healthcare. Really – these are worth taking advantage of: whatever your interest, there’s a way to get high-quality (read: expensive) stuff for free.

Bloggingheads. Great resource to watch some of the nation’s premier journalists talk about politics, current events, newly-released books, etc.

-Meet the Press/Fareed Zakaria/etc.: I’ll say it again – iTunes is great. There are podcasts for tons of shows – download the interesting ones and throw them on your iPod, then listen to them on the way to class, at the gym, while running, etc.

What am I missing? What do you use to learn virtually that I’d be interested in – any great blogs, websites, etc.?


*That grossly oversimplifies reality. If you know me, you know this is a habit of mine – along with a heavy dose of sarcasm. You’ve been warned.


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