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You are What You Learn: Tips for Teachers, Small Business Owners, and Seniors

    Last Updated on May 17, 2023

    Lifelong Learning is a Journey

    Education doesn’t ever stop. We might attend school, graduate and begin working, but the learning never ends. There may be certificates we need for our jobs, or we may take them out of interest. We may take night school courses or learn to play a musical instrument. And if we have a family, we teach our children how to tie their shoes, and in return, they teach us how to use a smartphone or install a new driver for our printer.

    We teach and we learn our whole life. Retraining, learning how to use a new tool, learning a new skill, or even a new language – learning is a continuous process.

    But, what’s the best way to learn? Traditional models of education emphasize a one-way transfer of knowledge from teacher to student. It’s becoming clear, however, that a collaborative exploration of ideas between students and teachers, and over an extended time period is more conducive to mutual growth and development.

    “One of the best things about life is that we never have to stop learning. There are always new skills to learn and techniques for us to adopt.”

    As an educator, I firmly believe in the power of lifelong learning. Every time I help a client with a website, I’m showing them how to use new tools to solve their problems. When I teach my classes, I’m showing students ways to do things that may be new to them. At the same time, I’m learning new ways to help others. I’m learning new perspectives and approaches.

    I believe that education isn’t limited to the classroom or textbooks, but is instead a continuous exploration of new ideas and perspectives. In my experience, teaching others has been one of the most effective ways for my own learning and growth as an individual.

    Learn As You Live: Slowly, Inefficiently, but Effectively

    As a Web Generalist, I help clients and teach topics that cross the range of online marketing services – websites, social media, and SEO included. I also write about these topics and related ones for my clients. Lifelong learning is very important to me because I need to know enough about a variety of topics if I am to work.

    Continually learning – and failing – allows me to expand my range too. Often I learn just enough to deal with a problem and then never need this skill again – such as working in the Bitrix or Typo3 CMS. But sometimes I find this is the first step in months or years of learning a skill – such as my experience with SEO.

    Being a Generalist, my interest was piqued when I saw David Epstein’s book, Range. This book challenges common beliefs such as early specialization, learning shortcuts, career evaluations, and even the notion of grit, by synthesizing a diverse collection of psychological and economic research.

    At the heart of the book is the proven idea that, over time, slow, inefficient learning is more beneficial for us than quick, efficient learning. Why? Because the slow, failure-ridden learning, allows us to actually learn as opposed to just remembering things.

    This style of learning is an inherent part of the Agile development process. Iterations of an idea, tested, the mistakes discovered in real-time, making the final product that much more solid. Agile is centred around adaptive planning. It is an iterative approach, that works by breaking projects down into little bits of functionality, prioritizing them, and then continuously delivering results in short cycles.

    The most interesting takeaway for me was his call to us to “be T-shaped people”. This means that we should have a broad range of knowledge together with deep, specific knowledge. Like the letter “T”. This offers numerous benefits. Firstly, it enhances your problem-solving skills by providing you with both a strong area of expertise and a broad range of knowledge that allows you to explore ideas from various disciplines. Therefore, you can effectively apply your specialized knowledge whenever required.

    In my case, this deep knowledge would be building websites – something I have been doing since 1998. Everyone needs a website. My other knowledge, related to websites, allows me to offer additional services as well as monitor the work of others should I bring in a specialist for Google Ads or Social Media.

    Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

    One of the most important lessons I have learned as an educator is the value of failure. We hear a lot about this “strive to fail” mentality. It can go overboard sometimes. At the core is a simple acceptance that if something never breaks, you will never know how to fix it. There is great learning and power in fixing that which is broken.

    When you try something new, there is always a risk of failure. But rather than viewing failure as a negative outcome, I believe it should be embraced as a learning opportunity. Failure allows us to identify our weaknesses and areas for improvement, and it gives us the chance to learn from our mistakes.

    “It’s a common saying in the tech world: fail fast. Typically applied to a new business venture or division, it means you should make your mistakes and recognize the shortcomings of your product as soon as possible, so you can pivot into what’s ultimately going to be profitable.”


    One of the best ways to learn something, is to teach it

    When you teach, you are forced to step out of your comfort zone and approach a subject from a new perspective. This requires research, preparation, and organization, all of which help you gain a deeper understanding of the topic at hand. As a result, you become more knowledgeable and confident in your ability to convey information to others.

    Additionally, teaching allows you to connect with others and share your knowledge and experiences. Through this process, you learn from your students just as much as they learn from you. By engaging in collaborative exploration and discussion, you can gain new insights, perspectives, and ideas that you may not have otherwise considered.

    Of course, teaching is challenging! It requires patience, empathy, and the ability to adapt to different learning styles and abilities. But by helping others learn and grow, you can make a positive impact on their lives and your own.

    Teaching contributes to your personal growth and development. As you teach, you are continually challenged to refine your communication and interpersonal skills, as well as your ability to adapt to different situations and personalities. These skills are valuable not only in the classroom but in all aspects of life, from personal relationships to professional endeavours.

    “Whether it be a new project or a new subject matter, we often find ourselves in over our heads at work, school, even day to day life. Ever tried to set up a new computer, or a piece of IKEA furniture? Exactly. We are faced with learning moments every day.”

    Warren Laine-Naida Learning by Teaching

    Everyone Can Teach, Right?

    Teaching doesn’t always require formal training or education. Anyone can teach, regardless of their background or experience, just like anyone can cook. In fact, teaching can be as simple as sharing your knowledge and experiences with others, whether it be through a blog post, a conversation with a friend, or a social media post.

    While there are certainly challenges to being a teacher, such as managing large classes, meeting student needs, and dealing with administrative demands, the benefits are numerous. Teachers have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of their students, inspire curiosity and creativity, and contribute to the larger community.

    The Benefits of Continuing Education for Seniors

    The benefits of education are not limited to youth. As I pass my 60th year, I’m very interested in continuing my education and assisting those who are older.

    Regardless of age, everyone benefits from continuing their education. There are several advantages to pursuing educational opportunities later in life, including enhanced cognitive function, improved social connections, and a greater sense of purpose.

    “Contrary to previously held beliefs, cognitive abilities don’t necessarily decline with age. Lifelong learning offers many benefits for senior well-being and can enhance your mental and intellectual wellness.”

    Knute Nelson

    Education can help improve cognitive function in older adults.

    Engaging in intellectually stimulating activities, such as reading, learning a new language, or taking a class, can help maintain cognitive function and delay the onset of cognitive decline. This is especially important as we age, as cognitive decline can lead to a range of issues, including memory loss, decreased independence, and reduced quality of life.

    Education can help seniors form new social connections and combat feelings of isolation and loneliness.

    Many seniors experience social isolation, which can lead to poor physical and mental health outcomes. By taking classes, seniors have the opportunity to connect with others who share similar interests and experiences.

    Education can provide seniors with a greater sense of purpose and fulfilment.

    At some point in our lives, we find ourselves facing retirement or reduced work hours, which can lead to a sense of boredom or lack of purpose. By pursuing educational opportunities, seniors can continue to learn, grow, and contribute to their communities, which can help boost their sense of purpose and overall well-being.

    The Benefits of Continuing Education for Small Business Owners

    I’m a small business owner, as are most of my clients and colleagues. I have a vested interest in educating small businesses so that they can help themselves.

    For small business owners, education can be a valuable tool for success. Whether through formal education, industry-specific training, or professional development opportunities, continuing education can provide numerous benefits for small business owners.

    “Although learning something new may seem daunting, the reward goes far beyond personal growth. In fact, furthering your education can benefit your employees, business, and brain.”

    Business Insider

    With rapid changes in technology and consumer behaviour, it’s important for small business owners to stay informed and flexible in order to remain competitive. Education can provide small business owners with the knowledge and skills needed to stay ahead of the curve and make informed decisions for their businesses.

    Education can help small business owners develop key skills, such as leadership, management, and marketing.

    Running a successful small business requires a diverse range of skills, and education can provide small business owners with the tools needed to manage finances, lead employees, and effectively market their products or services.

    Education can help small business owners expand their professional network and build valuable connections.

    By participating in industry-specific events, workshops, and classes, small business owners have the opportunity to meet and connect with other professionals in their field, which can lead to valuable partnerships, collaborations, and new business opportunities.

    Education can provide small business owners with a sense of personal fulfilment and satisfaction.

    Running a small business can be a challenging and demanding endeavour, and continuing education can help small business owners feel more confident and capable in their roles. Additionally, learning new skills and knowledge can be a rewarding experience that can lead to personal growth and development.

    The Benefits of Education for Teachers

    As an educator, I know first-hand the benefits – and the need – for continuing education. I can’t sit on my laurels and teach the same material each class. I have to stay on top of the latest trends and knowledge as a teacher, just as much so as I need to advise my clients.

    For teachers, education is not just about imparting knowledge to their students, but also about continuing their own personal and professional growth. There are numerous benefits to pursuing ongoing education and professional development as a teacher, including improved teaching skills, increased job satisfaction, and career advancement opportunities.

    “Implementing professional education development has benefits for both teachers and students, but most importantly, it helps teachers become better educators and develop into competent future school administrators.”

    Queens University

    Education can help teachers improve their teaching skills and effectiveness.

    By participating in professional development opportunities, teachers can gain new knowledge and techniques to use in the classroom and in their research. This can lead to increased engagement and learning outcomes for students, as well as a more fulfilling and effective teaching experience for everyone.

    Education can provide teachers with a sense of personal and professional growth.

    Continuing education can help teachers stay up-to-date with the latest research, theories, and best practices in their field, which can help them feel more confident and capable in their role. Additionally, learning new skills and knowledge can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience that can lead to personal growth and development.

    Education can provide teachers with career advancement opportunities.

    By pursuing advanced degrees, certifications, or endorsements, teachers have more flexibility in their field. Continuing education can open up new career paths and opportunities, such as transitioning into administration or curriculum development roles.

    Education can help teachers stay motivated and engaged in their profession.

    Teaching can be a demanding and challenging job, and pursuing ongoing education and professional development can help teachers stay passionate and committed to their work. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and a more positive and fulfilling teaching experience.

    The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Education

    Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of a machine to imitate human intelligence. This includes recognising patterns, learning information and reasoning, among other things. In recent years, AI technology has developed rapidly and can now be found in many areas of everyday life, for example in voice assistants such as Siri or Alexa, in search engines such as Google or Bing and in social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.

    Currently, the most talked about AI is the OpenAI tool ChatGPT

    AI is also becoming increasingly important in education. For example, more and more learning platforms and intelligent tutoring systems are being developed to help students learn better. AI systems are also increasingly being used in the classroom itself, for example, to create individual learning plans or to diagnose learning problems.

    The benefits of AI in education are manifold. For example, learners can be better motivated and engaged through the use of AI systems. Learning outcomes can also be improved through the use of AI. In addition, AI systems can help make teaching more personalised and individualised.

    However, there are also many challenges associated with the introduction of AI in education. For example:

    • + it’s still unclear how AI systems can be used in an ethical and socially responsible manner.
    • + AI often provides incorrect answers to questions.
    • + the question of data protection also plays an important role in the use of AI in education.
    • + it’s still unclear how AI systems can be integrated into existing education systems.

    “To even have an intelligent conversation about AI in education, one must first push past imaginary science-fiction scenarios of computers and robots teaching our children, replacing teachers and reducing the human element from what is a fundamentally human activity.”

    University of San Diego

    Artificial intelligence (AI) based tools can be used in many ways to enhance teaching and learning. Here are a few ways to best use AI-based tools in education:

    Personalized learning:

    AI can help personalize learning by analyzing student data to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Teachers can then use this information to create customized learning experiences for each student.

    Automating routine tasks:

    AI can automate routine tasks like grading and providing feedback, giving teachers more time to focus on teaching and interacting with students.

    Creating interactive learning experiences:

    AI can be used to create interactive learning experiences, such as chatbots or virtual reality simulations, which can engage students and help them better understand complex concepts.

    Providing real-time feedback:

    AI can provide real-time feedback to students, allowing them to identify and correct mistakes immediately.

    Enhancing accessibility:

    AI can be used to create tools that enhance accessibility for students with disabilities, such as text-to-speech or speech-to-text technologies.

    The key to effectively using AI in teaching and learning is to understand the needs of students and how technology can be used to support their learning. Teachers should also work to ensure that AI is used ethically and responsibly and that students have opportunities to develop critical thinking skills around the use of AI in their education.

    Sources of Free Online Learning

    Whether it be the demands of homeschooling due to COVID, or the rise of AI tools, traditional education is rapidly changing. It’s moving further from the classroom and the fixed lesson plan to somewhere more ad-hoc and less physical.

    Technology allows us new ways to study traditional subjects and, at the same time, offers us the chance to embrace new subjects in unexpected ways. Education will probably undergo even more drastic changes as we enter the virtual worlds of research, teaching, and learning too.

    One of the advantages of technology and education coming together is the numerous free online learning resources now available.

    Each of the following websites offers a range of free educational resources, including courses, videos, and other materials, and can be a valuable source of knowledge and skills for anyone looking to pursue personal or professional development.

    Here are 12 of the best free online education resources:

    I have taken free and paid courses on the following platforms and have found them very good:

    • + Coursera – Offers free online courses from top universities and institutions around the world. I have taken free and paid courses from Coursera and found them top-notch. I have a few certifications from Coursera as well, including the Google Digital Marketing Professional Certificate. Excellent platform.
    • + edX – Like Coursera, edX provides free online courses from top universities and institutions. I have taken free and paid courses from edX and found them excellent. I have a few certifications from edX as well, including my Agile Project Management certificate. Great platform.
    • + Harvard Online Learning – Offers free online courses and resources from Harvard University on a huge variety of subjects. I like this platform a lot.
    • + Codecademy – Offers free coding courses and resources for beginners and advanced learners. HTML, Javascript, Python, PHP and more. I have tried many courses on Codecademy and found them excellent. They are very simple to understand and fun to do.

    Google Digital Garage is a free online learning platform created by Google to provide individuals and small businesses with the skills they need to succeed in the digital world.

    I can’t recommend Google Learning enough. It is an excellent collection of courses – and some are even certified.

    In addition to courses, Google Digital Garage also provides learners with access to a range of tools and resources to help them build their digital skills and grow their businesses online. These resources include webinars, articles, and case studies, as well as tools such as Google Analytics and Google Ads. These are also offered as an annual certification if you pass the tests. Be careful: the tests are quite hard!

    Udemy is an online learning platform that offers a wide range of courses taught by experts from around the world. With over 155,000 courses covering a variety of topics, Udemy provides you with access to knowledge and skills in areas such as business, technology, health, and personal development.

    Udemy courses are typically affordable, with many courses available for under $20, and many are a great bargain. I have a WordPress course that was 12,99, and an HTML course with templates that cost less than $20. Udemy courses are delivered online and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.

    The following platforms have excellent reputations, but I have not taken any of their courses:

    • + Khan Academy – Provides a wide range of free online courses, including math, science, humanities, and test preparation.
    • + MIT OpenCourseWare – Provides free online access to MIT course materials, including lectures, exams, and assignments.
    • + Stanford Online – Provides free online courses and resources from Stanford University.
    • + Duolingo – Provides free language learning courses in over 30 languages.
    • + Ted-Ed – Provides free educational videos on a wide range of topics, including science, history, and literature.
    • + Open Culture – Offers a collection of free online courses, audiobooks, eBooks, and textbooks from top universities and institutions around the world.

    Where is Your Educational Journey Heading? Let Me Know, or Join the Conversation on Twitter

    You can email me or connect with me on Twitter @

    Blog post image of “teacher and students in the online classroom” thanks to