Self Education: Five Essential Sites

by Jeff Cobb

Big lists of free online courses, Web tools, learning games, and other resources for lifelong learners are relatively easy to find, but sites with a serious focus on helping people along the journey of self-education are fewer and farther between. Here are five you may want to bookmark or add to your feed reader.

1. Autodidact Press

I mentioned the Autodidact Press in a post I did a while back on the famous self-educated. Its founder, Charles D. Hayes, is one of the Web’s longest standing proponents of lifelong learning and self-education.  The resources on the Web site itself are relatively limited, but it is worth signing up for the Self-University Newsletter. Also, check out the list of 52 ways to celebrate Self University Week (Sept. 1- 7). As the number 52 (i.e., the number of weeks in a year) suggests, lifelong learners can benefit from these activities throughout the year.

2. Self Made Scholar

I’ve mentioned Jamie Littlefield’s Self Made Scholar at least a couple of times in the Learning Monitor newsletter, and deservedly so.  Perhaps more than any other blogger I have come across, she focuses on the mindset and habits required for being a successful self-educator. Check out her How to Learn on Your Own: Creating an Independent Scholar Resource Plan and, as far as big lists go, her Self Education Resource List is among the best.

3. Wide Awake Minds

I only recently came across Wide Awake Minds, which blogger Ryan McCarl describes as a “resource for educators, self-educators, polymaths, and all who love to teach, read, think, and learn.” One of the features of the site I particularly like is the series of interviews with self-educators. These are text-based, but are somewhat along the lines of what I do here with the Radio Free Learning podcast (though much more focused on self-education). I think one of the most helpful guides each of us can have in our lifelong learning efforts is the experience of other lifelong learners. Here are links to the interviews McCarl has done so far.

4. The Art of Self Education

Race Bannon is one of the people that Ryan McCarl has interviewed for his self-educator series, and Bannon’s blog The Art of Self Education, is certainly a fit for this list. I recommend  his recent Self Education Checklist post to readers here on Mission to Learn.

5. The Personal MBA

Josh Kaufman’s The Personal MBA site is by far the most popular out of this list, and it is also the most narrowly focused. As the site title suggests, Kaufman is concerned primarily with business, but the site offers a great example of how to curate learning in specific subject area. Kaufman’s approach could be applied to nearly any area, and of course, business itself is topic that crosses nearly all learning boundaries. Be sure to check out Josh’s recent interview with Seth Godin for some provocative perspectives on education.

(Also, if you are interested in business learning, check out the business category here on Mission to Learn.)


Enjoy these sites, and please comment with others that readers should know about.


P.S. – Please join me on the ongoing Mission to Learn. Subscribe to the RSS feed or use the e-mail subscription form at the top left side of this page.

posted on March 10, 2010

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Glen March 10, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Thanks for the list and post. I think bringing self-assessments to the table will help with this process — pre and post-tests — so that people can better gauge their learning. I wanted to let you know that we’ll be releasing a self-paced, instructor led, and p2p learning site in the near future. If interested, please drop me an email at glen at nixty dot com. I’d love to share it w/you and get your thoughts.

Jeff Cobb March 10, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Glen – Yes, assessment is definitely a part of the equation that seems likely to grow and become more sophisticated in coming years. I’ll drop you a line about your site. Thanks for commenting. – Jeff

Dane July 5, 2010 at 12:36 am

These sites are great. Thanks for posting them. I have been watching a bunch of lectures at Virtual Professors. They constantly add content and they are all really interesting. Check it out.

Study in Ireland August 31, 2010 at 7:10 am

I truly appreciate your site. with the help of Big lists of free online courses people along the journey of self-education. nice post. thanks.

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