3 Convenient Ways to Be a Lifelong Learner

Lifelong learning is a buzzword today, and it’s easy to see why. The massive changes in technology and the changing nature of work are reasons to sharpen our skills and expand our knowledge. We need to be lifelong learners, but how?

When people hear “lifelong learning” they often think of getting another degree or taking university-level classes. They dread the costs and time commitment associated with these options. And the caliber of massive open online courses (MOOCs) can range drastically. However, there are high-quality, inexpensive alternatives to consider.

1. The Great Courses Plus

The Great Courses Plus have lifelong learners in mind. It’s an on-demand video service of lectures that cover a range of subjects: history, science, philosophy, economics and finance, travel, and music and fine arts, among many others. Each subject offers a variety of courses to choose from. For example, “history” has over 70 courses; “History of the Ancient World” is one course and it has 48 lectures.

The benefits are many. First, lectures are about 30 minutes long, so you get a dense amount of information in a reasonable amount of time. Second, the price is right. For about the cost of one movie ticket each month, I have access to thousands of videos taught by high-caliber professors.

Third, The Great Courses Plus app makes it easy to learn while you’re on the go. I listen to about two lectures each day walking to and from work; sometimes I download lectures in advance so I can watch them on my smartphone when sitting on the train or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. As a result, I’ve learned about creativity, Japanese history, European art, American history, and writing, among many other topics.

2. Lynda.com

Another online education platform I use regularly is Lynda.com. It consists of thousands of courses on subjects, like technology, business, software, and productivity, that are taught by industry experts. For example, there are more than 200 hundred courses on productivity alone.

A course, which may last a few minutes or several hours, consists of multiple lectures. Lectures typically last just a few minutes, thereby distilling complicated topics into small, digestible bits. Plus, similar to The Great Courses Plus, convenience is key. I often download lectures in advance and listen to them when I’m sitting in the airport or standing in line at the store.

And, once again, the price is right: for the price of a meal out each month I have the convenience and expertise Lynda.com offers.

3. Audiobooks

Listening to audiobooks is not a novel concept, but it seems to be glossed over today. That’s a shame, because listening to audiobooks are an easy, and often free, way to cycle through a lot of information quickly.

I download books from my library and listen to them on my smartphone during the course of my day. Sure, I prefer sitting down in a comfortable chair and reading a physical book. But audiobooks are another convenient and inexpensive way to learn.

Of course there are many other ways to keep learning, like reading and listening to podcasts. Reading is valuable, but I find that podcast episodes vary greatly in terms of quality. In contrast, the quality of a Great Course or Lynda.com course is consistently high over time. When I start a Great Course lecture, I know it’ll be an information filled, thought-provoking 30 minutes.

The above options make learning about a wide variety of subjects easy, affordable, and enjoyable. Now you can fill pockets of time throughout your day with quality information.

Amy Haddad writes for a Chicago-based software company. She is also a freelance writer and blogger, writing about productivity, art, and technology. Read her blog at amymhaddad.com.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.