I am guessing we have all been there before. You know, in front of your computer screen, trying to decide if you should take that online learning program or not. What should be a fairly straight forward decision turns out to be more difficult than you imagined. You find yourself looking for good reasons to learn what caught your interest moments ago.
Is this really worth the effort? You ask yourself. Will I get anything out of this learning adventure? Do I even have the time for this? Fair questions. There are lots of online learning programs out there, and they do vary in quality and value. You wouldn’t want to waste time on anything that is not quality and worst still, adds no value to you.
However, the problem here is not the quality or value of the online program. This program was put together and delivered by known experts in the field. Offered by a top university. There is plausible evidence of people who have found value in the lessons taught in this online program. Surely, there is some quality or value in it. Why then do we hesitate?
You see, the reason is that we have locked away the learning process in us — to be activated only in the face of an external influence. We only learn when we are asked or required to learn. Or, we learn when there is a clearly seen benefit of learning. Once again, that’s a somewhat fair and logical way to learn. After all, learning takes time and effort.
The problem, however, is that we invariably shut down our intrinsic drive to seek new knowledge. This means that any new learning interest generated from within is questioned while those externally influenced is embarked on, mostly, without question. How far can this strategy take us?
Well, I know not of any great man or woman in history that confided themselves to only learn what was prescribed by society. I also haven’t heard of any great person who asked how they will be rewarded in whatever way if they pursued learning something of interest.
The point is, an intrinsic drive to learn is crucial as it’s often what sets you apart from others. I don’t think a person or group of persons can prescribe a perfect combination of things you need to know. Therefore, we can’t afford to make learning a transaction that is initiated only when asked, required or nudged.
I started writing this article with a particular type of learning in mind — online learning. Specifically, learning via Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs. You see, a lot has been said regarding the pros and cons of taking a MOOC. And, I initially wanted to use this opportunity to advocate for taking the learning opportunity offered and learning to your heart’s desire. But I decided that you can find plenty of sound arguments online.
What I am going to ask is:
Are you prepared to unleash your internal drive to learn new knowledge?