If you’re like me then books are not your best friends. Even worse, you may have bought a ton of books to fill up the bookshelves and all they’ve done is gather dust. For some, you may have bookmarks placed somewhere in the middle pages of three different books, which you’ve vowed to complete for months now. While for others, you may have fallen deeper to sleep with every word that you try to read before bed. So for the bunch of us who aren’t so much into reading, what could be the alternatives? A source of inspiration, something that motivates you and explores your abilities, something that gives you knowledge beyond traditional texts… where do you go for it?
Personally, I search about a lot of experts in my field of study (mathematics and economics) and research their areas of interests not just to keep me motivated, but also to be able to update myself on latest developments. I go on to read their blogs or articles or skim through their research papers (which is far more convenient than reading a 600-page book!) and even better if I can find their podcasts or lecture videos online I subscribe to it instantly. That way, instead of listening to radio or songs while driving, I can turn on to some informative podcasts and generally they finish by the time I reach my destination. So I get the snippet of some broad topics, and I believe this has developed my critical thinking abilities a lot.
While each one of us holds the world in the palm of our hands in the form of mobile phones and tablets, their usages we largely limited to social media, music and gaming. Some productive use of these devices could be through some extraordinary free apps like Flipboard, Circa or Linkedin Pulse. These apps can expand your vision, as they offer current affairs in various fields in slightly unconventional fashion, which in my opinion is really captivating. For instance, you can create your own magazine in ‘Flipboard’ and personalize it to suit your taste as it provides articles on wide-ranging subject areas.
MOOCs are another recent technological innovation that has facilitated education and development far and beyond. These Massive Open Online Courses available through mainstream providers such as coursera.org or edx.org have some exceptionally attractive and comprehensive courses in almost every discipline. Most of these courses can also be completed without any time limit, all of which can be accessed for free. So if books before bed make you fall asleep, then try enrolling in one of these courses and watch a video lecture instead – it’s a lot easier, and fun too!
Having said all this, I’m not asking you to veer away from your regular course books, which are of great prominence for your studies with the University of London International programmes. What I’m suggesting instead is that if you’re frustrated with yourself for not being able to read as many books to gain extra knowledge then think outside the books! Modern technology has made things much much simpler if you find the right use for it to assist you in learning. Moreover, you’ve already enrolled yourself on a distance-learning course so it must be comparatively very easy for you to turn to technology and other sources for learning and personal development. It was for me, I hope it becomes for you too. All the best.
Dipankar Basnet is studying BSc Mathematics and Economics by distance learning in Australia.