[tweetmeme] With the holidays approaching I’m guessing there are a few readers out there like me looking for gifts with some educational value to them. Here are some gifts – in the form of learning activities – you may want to consider for the lifelong learners in your life. Most of them are digital, so you don’t have to worry about getting them shipped some place on time.
1. Learn to Save the World $25 at a Time
I thought I’d start with one that might not seem obvious. Kiva is a nonprofit that facilitates micro-lending to entrepreneurs across the world. By lending as little as US $25, you can help a shop owner in Ghana increase her inventory or a small farmer in Costa Rica build a greenhouse. (Examples of projects I have helped fund through my Kiva account.) Naturally, you can’t help but learn a lot along the way. US $25 gets you a downloadable Kiva gift card to fund a friend or family member’s account.
2. Monkey Around at a Zoo or Museum
I’m lucky to live not too far from the North Carolina Zoo and we also have fantastic museums in our area. Just do a quick Google search and you will almost certainly come up with great museum or zoo annual membership options in the vicinity of someone on your list.
3. Take Note
Readers here know I am an advocate of taking and reviewing notes, and I’m slowly becoming addicted to Evernote, the note-taking application that syncs your notes across the Web, your desktop, your iPad, and your mobile phone. For US $5 a month, or $45 a year, you can snag a premium subscription that offers some great extra features (and a T-Shirt) for the avid learners in your life.
The array of gadgets, gizmos, and kits that the amateur scientist now has access to is really quite astounding. Check out the wide selection at Edmunds Scientific.
5. Get Lectured on the Go
Anybody who says the lecture is dead hasn’t experienced the great content available from the Teaching Company or LearnOutLoud. I’d call it brain candy, but it is far too nutritious for that metaphor. One of my favorite learning activities this year has been Robert Greenberg’s How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, but there are selections to cover all interests available from both sites. Pick a topic, and grab a gift certificate.
6. Try some APPlied Learing
My iPhone and my iPad have become two of my key learning devices. While a lot of the available apps for these devices are free, some come with a small price tag – and 99 cents many times over adds up! Help the lifelong learner in your life stay on budget by giving an iTunes gift certificate. This will cover not only apps, but also anything else available from the iTunes store. And be sure to point your recipient to 10 Excellent iPad Apps for the Lifelong Learner. (Note: you can also get Android app gift cards at Amazon.com
7. Train the Brain
Lifelong learners are always looking for ways to beef up the ‘ol gray matter. Give the learner in your life a boost with Lumosity Brain Games.
8. Learn a Language
Ah, a mainstay of New Year’s resolutions: “This year I am going to learn to speak ___________.” Help the learner in your life keep that resolution with some great language learning options like those from Transparent.com and Visual Spanish (FREE Spanish Lessons!).
9. Give to Learn
There are so many ways in which nonprofits support our learning and the learning of others, but they can’t do their work without adequate funding. You can hardly go wrong in choosing an organization to contribute to, but if you are looking for ideas, one of my favorites is Heifer International.
10. Read …wait for it… a book
Yes, that’s right. The good ‘ol book, in paper form, is still one of the greatest gifts there is. If you aren’t sure what a good book might be, check out the New York Times list of 100 Notable Books of 2011 or its Modern Library selection of Top 100 Novels. Whatever you choose, my recommendation for buying is to find a local independent bookstore, if one still exists in your area. We’re lucky here in my area to have the great Flyleaf Books.
Got other ideas? Please share them in the comments.