Experiments in Lifestyle Design: Distance Learning

Have you heard the news?

That you can find anything, almost anything online…for free?

A handful of years ago, I came home from high school one lazy afternoon, only to find my mom hunched over our downstairs toilet with the biggest wrench I had ever seen. “Mom. What the HELL are you doing?” Not only had she managed to strip the wallpaper and sponge paint the entire room, but she had also piped open our plumbing and installed a new sink. “Don’t worry, Alan…I looked this all up on Google.”

That’s right folks, there’s no excuse anymore. From bicycle maintenance, recipe search engines and watching guitar lessons on YouTube, you can learn just about any task on the Internet superhighway. It’s pretty wild.

While “distance learning” traditionally refers to academia, I’m expanding the definition with a list of my favorite self-education resources.


Future Learners (photo credit)

Do It Yourself (DIY) Projects

Instructables.com—launched in 2005, user-generated DIY projects with step-by-step picture instructions.
>> Check out: Tetris DVD Shelf, Invisible Book Shelf and the Marshmallow Gun

DoItYourself.com—leading DIY website with thousands of projects, mostly home repair-related.

DIYIdeas.com—best resource I’ve found for home and garden projects.
>> Check out: for home-foliage-enthusiasts, they have a great outdoor section


Academic Earth—launched in March 2009, a seriously amazing and comprehensive collection of free video lectures from top U.S. universities.
>> Check out: Entrepreneurship

MIT OpenCourseWare—around 2000 MIT undergraduate/graduate course notes online, some with complete video lectures and test banks.
>> Check out: Sloan School of Management for business courses, and for all you rocket scientists out there, Nuclear Science and Engineering

Google Scholar—if you’re looking for specific academic resources, this is a good place to start. JSTOR, for me at least, has been a traditionally better resource, but as a college-graduate I no longer have free access.

Other Resources

Lynda.com—great collection of (mostly free) software and coding training courses. Suggested to me by Sean and Colin on the LocationRebel forum. There’s also a great interview on Mixergy.com with Lynda Weinman, the founder of the site. I’ll probably use Lynda to beef up my HTML / CSS / PHP coding skills, as they are currently quite poor.

Design e2 (via Hulu.com)—18-part documentary-style series that explores sustainable living and green design. A fantastic resource if you’re interested in the world of sustainability.
>> Check out: one cool episode, China, From Red to Green?

TED.com—AMAZING collection of presentations (“ideas worth spreading”) delivered by the most talented people in the world. There’s really not much more to say.
>> Check out: Stroke of Insight, Brief Digression and Spaghetti Sauce

What sites do you use for self-learning?

15 thoughts on “Experiments in Lifestyle Design: Distance Learning”

  1. @Alan – You’re absolutely right. I’ve read some fascinating pieces about how places like Web MD are hurting doctors because at this point, if you can work Google and read you can learn most things. I’ll take it a step further and say the amount of material online, coupled with a library card and an internship/free work experience can be just as valuable as paying (insert large amount of money here) for an MBA.
    .-= Ryan Stephens´s last blog ..Top 10 Gen Y Blogs: October 2009 =-.

  2. I absolutely love where online learning is going, and I firmly believe that it will play a large roll in the future of primary education and secondary education, as well. It’s just so incredibly cheap and has a whole lot more information (up to date information!) than any collection of textbooks every could.

    Three cheers for the Internet! How depressed and ignorant we’d be without it!
    .-= Colin Wright´s last blog ..I’m Writing This to Get Laid =-.

  3. Thanks everyone for the comments!

    @Ryan: I want to highlight what you said, because I can’t agree more 🙂

    “I’ll take it a step further and say the amount of material online, coupled with a library card and an internship/free work experience can be just as valuable as paying (insert large amount of money here) for an MBA.”

    Right on, Matt.

    @Everyone Else: Can you add to this list? What am I missing?

  4. Internet has done wonders in our present day life. Almost all information is available in just one click. We certainly live in easy times. 🙂

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