This is the third part of a three-part series by Ankit Khandelwal to help you maximise your online learning based on his extensive MOOC experience. In this article, he will talk about how to apply online learning in the real world. If you haven’t been following, be sure not to miss out on part I and part II of the series.
From theory to practice
Studying online can give you good knowledge and concepts but it will not stick with you for a longer time, until you practice them in a real world. How to do that? Well, I have experimented with many methods to use concepts in real life. Let me share some of them.
1. Newspaper/magazine reading
Newspapers and magazines are easily available resources. They can maximize your learning if used wisely.
– Let’s say you are taking a course on Macroeconomics, then maybe you can start reading economic section of your daily newspaper. You will encounter words like debt, inflation, CPI (Consumer price index), PMI (Purchasing managers index) government bonds, yields etc on very frequent basis. Your course is already covering these fundamental aspects giving you opportunity to co-relate theory with real situations. If you are interested in knowing more, you can search relevant information on internet. Just try this for 3-4 months and I am sure you will start making your own conclusions about all these sophisticated business headlines.
Image 1: A news clip about PMI in China
2. Using tools in your own life
If you are taking a course in finance, then you can do a lot of things in your day to day life. For example, you can start collecting receipts of the every stuff you are buying. Normally, every receipt list details of item name, quantity, amount and tax collected. You can start comparison on a per month basis and by checking your income level, you can easily see how much you are paying in taxes and other things. By looking at the bigger picture, you can easily cut your unnecessary expenditure, can decide whether to buy in bulk or during the weekend, improve investment in required things etc.
I have used similar calculations to optimize my public transportation routes to improve my savings. From basic level, you can also go to a slightly higher scale. You can calculate your loan repayment installments per month, plan your retirement financing or choose investment options on a small scale easily. These simple learnings can make yourself better while making important decisions, especially related to money control.
Image 2: Sample plan for decision-making using day to day calculations
3. Becoming more active on social media
If you are taking a course about understanding the European Union (EU), then it is a good idea to start glancing at the EU website on regular basis. I have spent many months in understanding more about the European Union and apart from that, I have also been engaged in similar discussions on LinkedIn/Facebook. I have talked about regulations, economic policies etc. Getting such knowledge and discussing them with others will automatically involve you in the decision-making process of your own government.
Image 3: Discussing current rate cut measures by the European Central Bank in LinkedIn group ‘Treasury Peer’
4. Observing surroundings
You can also look at your surroundings to find ways of putting your newly acquired knowledge into proper perspectives.
– I was taking the course, ‘Project management’ last year. To check what it is like to write a project report in the real world, I found a construction site near my home. I made bridge construction as my project and started to put my theoretical learnings into practice through observation. For 2 continuous months, every evening, I was at the construction site, spending a lot of time in observing the progress. I made my own notes each day. I used to observe which portion had been completed, how the project is progressing, what is lacking, what percentage had been finished etc. You can see a sample observation table below to understand this routine exercise. Although it was not a very real experience, it has gave me the opportunity to practice project management tools in a very real situation. I am very confident to use them in more realistic situations in future.
Image 4: Bridge in my home town, which I have used for my observation in practicing Project Management tools
Table 1: Sample observation table used for analyzing daily progress of the bridge, just for reference
5. Becoming part of the solution
It is different but one of my favorites. In some courses, you will be asked to do a project and given a choice to find topic of your interest. If you find any problems in your society, locality or your region; then you can take initiative, take this problem as your work project and find some solutions to this problem. You will not only finish your course project but also become part of bringing solutions to the society. Working on real life projects is the best way to enhance your learning and improve your confidence.
– For example, for the course ‘Design Cities’, I have worked on reducing traffic congestion in my city. I have studied methods implemented in other cities of the world and customized some of them to use here. I have even submitted my project to city authorities and hoping to hear positive news from them.
These were just some of many ways, through which I have practiced my learning in real situations. You can designed your own methods as per your convenience, requirements and interests.
I am very confident, that if you work towards making your online learning more enjoyable and meaningful, then the skills you are gaining now will stick with you for a longer duration of time.
Thanks for reading about my experiences!
Greetings from India!
My name is Ankit Khandelwal and I am from India. From 2012, I was working on my ‘Envisioning 21st century global manager’ project. It is my own management study program, drafted after careful analysis of my interests, future market trends and required skill set to become a global manager/leader of 21st century. I have taken taken courses at MIT Open Course Ware, OCWC (Open Course Ware Consortium), OYC (Open Yale Courses), OLI (Open Learning Initiative), Organizations (WTO, Copenhagen Business Center) as well as on MOOC platforms (Alison, Coursera, edX, Open2study, NovoEd) as part of my ‘Envisioning 21st century global manager’ project. From past 22-24 months, this was my full time work, where I have taken 20+ courses from different universities (general management as well as interdisciplinary sectors like trade negotiations, urban planning, public policy, climate change, emergency management etc), tried to self-learn 3 foreign languages and extensively studied newspaper from 8 different places for regular business happenings around the globe. I have tried to expand my outreach by reaching every corner of the world through projects, study of the regions or through expansion of networks. Equally important was my study of different cultures to prepare myself for negotiating/working in the multicultural environment (political/social and ground realities). You will hear more about it in future with the title ‘Power of Online Education’.