In the modern age, we all tend to take the idea of education for granted, but it was only during the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment around the 1650s that the idea of education was no longer considered a luxury and a privilege throughout Europe.
Still, despite the advantages that the Enlightenment thinkers have fought to promote – education for everyone – against the wishes of the Catholic Church and the monarchies, it’s not enough to have access to readily available specialized knowledge; you must also learn how to take full advantage of your educational opportunities.
Taking this into account, here are 3 ways to optimize your productivity as you work to reap the benefits of higher education to improve your own life and create a positive impact in the world around you:
1. Leverage the power of technology
While book learning is still alive and well, one of the fastest ways to improve your knowledge and skills is by accessing the information you need through the Internet. Select your internet service only on the basis of getting the quality and fast speed you need to optimize your online research and study rather than focusing on peripheral things like special introductory offers or other marketing tactics.
Since much of your online learning will probably include listening to video-based lectures, a slow speed that constantly interrupts the flow of ideas to buffer the video will frustrate your efforts to get a lot of work accomplished each day. Besides improving your Internet access, invest in devices and software that can facilitate the growth of your knowledge and skills.
2. Attend both virtual classrooms and traditional classrooms
Although it’s not uncommon to come across blog posts on educational websites arguing about which are better virtual classrooms or traditional ones, it’s a somewhat specious debate since both provide great value.
Learning any academic subject with technology makes it possible to get great value from attending virtual classrooms. Attending a virtual classroom is easier because there are no geographical limits or time constraints. There is also no reduction in the quality of learning because a student can replay videos if the concept isn’t clear, use interactive software to develop a deeper understanding or contact the professor and fellow students via email, online chat, or social media forums. Moreover, you can learn at your own pace, use software-based preparation modules for upcoming examinations, and access a variety of other educational resources to cross-check concepts, discover new research findings, or get more up-to-date information on time-sensitive material.
Still, there is a good reason why virtual classrooms have not made actual classrooms obsolete. Traditional classroom learning makes it easier to spark a lively classroom discussion. Active learning is the best way to understand something better, and one excellent form of it is having a classroom discussion. When students participate in a classroom discussion, it adds to their interest in the subject, engages them in finding answers to questions or objections, and provides instant feedback and correction on any erroneous assumptions. Traditional classroom learning also improves interpersonal skills, clarifies common misconceptions, improves accountability about staying on top of assignments, and increases personal motivation to master the subject well.
3. Access both online libraries and use the traditional card system to do your research
Using an online library system is not the same as using a major search engine–because this is part of an online library management system that provides access to educational materials and resources to support distant learners.
Despite the tremendous amount of information available online, only a small percentage of academic journals, scholarly papers, and classical or technical books are online. It would take a massive worldwide effort at a staggering cost to digitize all the information that has been accumulated over the centuries. Moreover, the information on the Internet is not organized as thoroughly and efficiently as the Dewey Decimal System, which was developed in 1876 by Melvil Dewey. Finally, there is no quality control and it’s quite possible to stumble upon misleading information as anyone can create a website. Academic books, meanwhile, are often fact-checked by the publishers’ editors and scholarly papers are peer-reviewed by subject matter experts to avoid embarrassing errors.
In conclusion, it’s essential to seize on every opportunity we can to improve our own education. Today in our technological era, an educated, well-informed person has a much greater ability to handle the increasing complexities of a changing society and a far better chance of riding the wave of new job opportunities ushered in by technological advances.