Tag Archives: free tutorials

A Postscript to Education

30 October 2011, by A. Cedilla

A while back we posted the following entries:

  • Free Classes Online! (Or, Rethinking Education) – “Hard times do ease up, however, and while you can’t predict the future, you still decide your own fate. You do what you can to keep going, and if that means going for more education, you still have options.”
  • Taking Action (Rethinking Education 2) – “There’s no time better than the present to train yourself to being flexible and open to change. This is something you have to teach yourself, and no course or college can give it to you.”

While these articles touched on the various choices available today for people looking to continue their education, today’s discussion touches on a different aspect of the issue:

  • One, what does it mean “to be educated”?
  • And two, what will it mean to educate yourself?

What does it mean, to be “educated”?
This is a very old question, and one which has been hotly debated by the great minds of history, but for today, What Must An Educated Person Know? (The Personal MBA) is an excellent staring point.

Usually when people talk about “getting an education”, they’re talking about college, when in fact college is an institution that facilitates education but isn’t a guarantee of it (face it, we’ve met people with very nice degrees who can’t handle PowerPoint, or exhibit common street-sense).

In the article, things like majors, extra-curriculars and internships aren’t even touched on. According to Joshua Kaufman, being educated is all about skills acquisition and practice. Continue reading A Postscript to Education

Taking Action (Rethinking Education 2)

27 August 2011, by A. Cedilla

Part one of “Rethinking Education” is a starting point meant to show you just some of what’s available online in terms of free educational opportunities.

This follow-up focuses on the planning and action phase, and one very important factor to consider is this: you need a new approach to getting and continuing your education, wherever you decide to take it.

  • You need a degree to get to the next level in your organization, but you’re already working full-time.
  • You need a degree, but you’re not sure which one would really help.
  • You have a degree, and it’s not paying off the way you thought it would, so you want to get another one.

A) Rethinking Education

“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” – Einstein

Rethinking in this context is not to rehash, but to look at the issue from another level. Assuming you’ve gone through basic elementary schooling, however long ago, you have to understand that the way you learned things then is different from the way you’re expected to do things now. The old systems can’t handle the demands of the emergent new reality. You can’t exclusive rely on old methods of learning when you’re expected to adapt to the changes facing you now.

Many brick-and-mortar schools are accused of inflating the employment rate of their graduates to attract more students. Online schools, on the other hand, still have to battle the image of being diploma mills, studying “online” not being seen as serious as “actually going to college.” Education is in a slow state of flux, and while it’s changing, we still have to figure out what we want to learn while the old rules are breaking down. Continue reading Taking Action (Rethinking Education 2)

Free Classes Online! (Or, Rethinking Education)

20 August 2011, by A. Cedilla

We’re all going through some really hard times right now. What with the current economy and the job market being flooded, it’s hit and-and-miss-miss-miss when you send out resumes or answer want ads. People are expected to do more work for longer hours at whatever pay they can negotiate for, and nobody can help it, it is what it is.

An article in the New York Times states that an M.A is the new bachelor’s degree. Ph.D’s, M.A’s and B.A holders are competing fiercely over available positions and job openings, and even when you get a foot in the door, you can be turned down for being over-qualified for one job and yet not be qualified enough at another.

What do you do?
For those who can still afford to, one tactic is to go back to school –or stay in school longer — to A) Wait out the flooded job market while getting their degrees or B) Train in another field and get more marketable skills

First Issue: Student loans…

Which lead to the second issue: Little to no money to spare.
If you’re already burdened with any kind of financial obligation, the thought of adding more to it is unthinkable. The phrase “buried in debt” is only the tip of the iceberg.

Hard times do ease up, however, and while you can’t predict the future, you still decide your own fate. You do what you can to keep going, and if that means going for more education, you still have options. Here are some articles to get you thinking about how to approach the issue. They all have numerous links to schools and universities that offer on-line courses, many for free.

Note from the source: “OEDb currently contains reviews of 1,024 programs from 83 accredited online colleges. […] our database only lists accredited online colleges so that you can be sure that these degrees will be respected by potential employers. Our database allows you to sort reviews by program, college, or degree level.”

A side-issue: Little to no time
Many reputable schools and universities have their own version of free online courses (YMMV, of course, check the LifeHacker link). But, as always, TANSTAAFL. In everything you do, you get what you put in. You want an education, and whether it’s free or as cheap as you can get it, you still have to make the time to actually study. No excuses.

You can also get college credits for what you already know. CLEP accreditation ( CLEP stands for College-level Examination Program) is one way of getting accreditation for skills and talents you’re already practicing. Fluent in a second language? Already working? Looking to shift fields? You would be one of many who choose to leverage life experience into educational advancement.

What I hope you take away with from this article is this: You are more than the circumstances in your life and you don’t have to let them define you.

If you’re unsure — you can’t, you don’t have the money, you don’t have the time, etc — then take the time to sit down and think, really think, about the choices you still can make to better yourself, if not change your situation (yet, anyway).

You’re not powerless.

Or worthless.

Assess your situation, see what needs to be done to make it better, and take a good look at the activities that are pulling you down.

Still here?

So, you want to go back to school. What do you want to walk away with? Do you want to save money? Increase your hire-ability by a skills-upgrade? You want to follow your passion?

If all you want is to save money you don’t have to have go back to school to do it. You can just polish your skill-set in the areas of your life where you can save a buck. For example , TooTiredTeacher has a few easy recipes up on YouTube, and she’s just one of many, many people who freely share cooking lessons. Taper off the take-out, learn to cook, and you can save money.

You can also look into acquiring more handy skills like changing the washer in a faucet, or fixing leaks. Check this out: Types of Skills Everyone Should Know (Popular Mechanics).


Passion is great, but it’s not a guarantee you can pay the bills. Cal Newport has quite a few things to say about passion at his blog, StudyHacks.

Free-Ed.net says it best: Formal education is not sustainable for a lifetime, but lifetime learning is essential for surviving today’s volatile job market and tomorrow’s long period of “retirement.”

Go visit the links, read on a bit about how other people are dealing with the situation, and in part two we’ll discuss what practical steps you can take to get the learning you’re after.

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Lessons From Watching Pawn Stars

27 June 2011, by A. Cedilla

Pawn Stars is a reality show on the History Channel. It chronicles the working day of the family-owned Gold and Silver Pawnshop in Las Vegas. Rick Harrison runs it with his father Richard (“The Old Man”) and his son Corey (“Big Hoss”), assisted by Corey’s childhood friend Austin “Chumlee” Russell.

Now, you might dismiss the whole thing as staged and gimmicky, but there is undeniable value in the education and entertainment –edutainment?– you can get from the show.

Anyone who wants to see marketing psychology in action can learn a lot from watching it. Think of a “Pawn Stars” episode as a 30-minute lesson on customer relations, pricing, risk management, working with family and running a business — without the big words they use in business school.

Respect the bottom-line.
If Rick feels he won’t make a profit on a possible sale, he turns it down. No matter how excited he gets initially, he decides if buying an item would mean missing the bottom line, he won’t buy. “Will buying this thing make money? Can I make a profit reselling it?” If the answer’s no, he tells the customer why, and walks away. “We’re not here to break even, we’re here to make money.”
Continue reading Lessons From Watching Pawn Stars

On Writing

24 December 2009, by A. Cedilla

  • Holly Lisle, acclaimed science-fiction and fantasy writer, has a free, 209-page e-book full of very memorable advice on writing, available for download here.
  • No Train No Gain, an online resource for newsroom trainers (in journalism writing), has a resource page to help improve writing.
  • The Purdue Online Writing Lab has writing resources and instructional material meant for writers and teachers/trainers.
  • Forward Motion, an online community aimed at helping writers get published professionally, has back issues available, with some as free PDF downloads

And these are just a few of the thousands of writing resources, communities, organizations and downloads available on-line. Are you getting an idea of where we’re heading with this now?

Writing is a skill. As with any skill, there are levels to writing that can’t be reached by any process other than study and deliberate application — practice, practice, practice.

Some of the resources above are meant to break writing down to its very nut and bolts, others attend more to the process of writing, and still others to a particular goal — getting published, or mastering journalism. All of these resources can help you write better, if you apply yourself.

Continue reading On Writing