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December 31, 2012

… did I miss one? Probably a few.

I’m very interested in how online education will work as many valuable skills can be taught through tutorials and having general curiosity these days. I’ve decided to try some of the P2PU.org School of Webcraft courses as they are free and were made in partnership with Mozilla. How these online schools organize the instruction and lessons, motivate students, and help industries recognize the skill by proper validation, are just a few challenges that I see. I have read some blog posts that see ‘badges’, these virtual rewards, as commoditization of learning. I think with or without badges natural learning and curiosity will prevail and will still ultimately send people the furthest on their path.

With respects to technical skills, I have found the most of my learning has come from staking a claim in something and then trying to see it through with google, stackoverflow, trial and error, etc. When things are clear, tools laid in front of you, the dotted path marked, it might remove some of the critical thinking involved when tackling larger systems and bigger problems. I hope that these schools can leave some things open ended enough to familiarize themselves with the creative and imaginative aspects, too. Technology is often a mystery that can be discovered iteratively, layer by layer, and it seems that by design it is perfect for natural learning.

Once you have ultimately learned something how do you reflect that on a resume, to your employer, to everyone. I think degrees are a great place to start but there are lot of new technical skills that aren’t being taught. It seems that many tools and technologies, especially niche web ones, are developed so quickly that they don’t have time to be crafted through the bureaucracy into a college course (who can afford those textbooks?!).

So I believe that a possible, basic answer may be two parts: one, we have these websites that teach, assess, and validate our claim to what we’ve learned. And two, we take a larger stake to tackle a bigger idea, to be creative, to show and explain on twitter, facebook, blogs, and at democamps what we’ve learned. The process is iterative, we share, learn, repeat and each time getting it more right, getting it better, and that’s what I think companies want to see and is probably the most rewarding.

Oh, and Universities are still good for fundamentals and a whole load of other type of skills, too. I definitely enjoyed many memories associated with my degree.