We are on a quest to learn something new every day. According to Google Search Trends, among all the who’s, what’s, why’s and when’s we searched in 2014, “how” took first place. It appeared 8x more times than “who.”
“How to kiss” was searched for more times than any other activity, including “how to survive.”
That certainly tells us something about our priorities. After hoping that most of you got that answer right, let’s move on to the question of survival. In this century and the coming ones, it could come down to one question –
YouTube is the best site you can use for both.
Using YouTube With Mini Habits and Micro Learning
Watch the Khan Academy video below for a dash of motivation in one-minute flat.
YouTube is a fish-market on a Sunday morning. But in those 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, there are many gems you can hook that few other sites can rival. You can learn on the go and you can learn in 61+ languages. You can learn virtually anything. I selected the ten videos below keeping three things in mind:
- These ten skills can be learned and practiced in under a day.
- These ten skills can be applied to our tech-focused daily lives.
- These ten skills can make you seem smarter than your friends!
So, let’s put the three rules to the test with these ten interesting things you can learn to do on YouTube (but first set up YouTube for better learning).
Save Time with Mental Math Skills
Why is it important? A life skill you can use in a corporate boardroom or when helping your 10-year old with their homework.
For most of us, math and fun don’t belong in the same sentence, but technology is doing its bit to solve our math fears. Even with a satchel-full of apps, mental math remains the best weightlifting exercise for the brain. Many aptitude tests like GMAT still don’t allow calculators. Worry not. Mental math is not too difficult to learn and you can impress anyone within a few seconds.
Scott Flansburg says that the way we are taught math is more complicated than necessary. It can be simple and fun. This human calculator might just inspire you to take a second look at what you were taught. Watch both parts (part 1, part 2) courtesy Superheroyou.com.
Improve Critical Thinking with the Socratic Method
Why is it important? A skill that can help us interpret information in a rational way and manage information overload.
Problem solvers are already in great demand. Algorithms can only do so much. Critical thinking can be learned. It starts by observing important details, questioning assumptions, investigating data sources, removing biases, and the most difficult — outside the box thinking.
Critical thinking is also a big part of Common Core standards in schools.
The Common Core focuses on developing the critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills students will need to be successful from here on.
One of the techniques involved in critical thinking is the Socratic Method. YouTube has quite a few videos on this, but the one below is a quick introduction:
Power-questioning with the Socratic Method can be compared to pottery – watch this video with the analogy.
Pay Attention to Your Writing with Proofreading
Why is it important? Because one tiny mistake can spoil anything from a memo to a term paper.
Hillary Clinton is in the news because of a typo. That’s the race for the White House: typos and bad turns of phrases can derail your student paper or your office life. One of the golden rules of life is to always check your writing before you turn it in.
We ignore proofreading because we become lazy and trust our hands and eyes too much. Some self-editing tips can help all of us become better writers, and maybe even get a job on Hillary Clinton’s PR team.
This 200-video strong proofreading playlist could be a complete course in itself. The short animation below is an introduction:
Save Hours with a Mail Merge
Why is it important? Because you can make boilerplate templates read like personalized mails.
Imagine a wedding with 1000 guests. That’s 1000 different addresses on just as many envelopes. And you have just a few hours to do it in. Mail Merge is the skill you would want to learn. Turn to MS Word and the Mail Merge wizard.
Using mail merge, you can create custom messages, labels and envelopes without having to enter names and addresses for each one. Just make sure the database of addresses and names is accurate and free of typos.
Brad also has written a thorough tutorial on automating Office with Mail Merge that helps you understand the process.
Perfectly Print Envelopes
Why is it important? Snail mail isn’t extinct and first impressions count.
Many times, it doesn’t end at mail merge. Printing envelopes is an underrated skill. Surprising because it is such an easy thing to master — all it takes is a few differently sized envelopes to practice on and the video tutorial below. The hardest bit is to feed it into the printer in the right direction.
Understanding Color Theory
Why is it important? Because matching colors helps you do everyday stuff like buying the right clothes or painting your house the right colors.
Joel showed us how we can understand color theory in less than an hour, but learning about color theory gets easier on YouTube because of visuals nature of videos and the umpteen applications you can find with the tutorials.
Our article mentions the excellent Color Theory for Painting playlist. I will recommend the equally good playlist from landscape artist Scott Naismith. Colour Theory for Artists and Designers goes into basic concepts like hue and saturation, and how it affects color balance.
Make Your Own Business Cards
Why is it important? Because a memorable introduction is an ice-breaker.
You also save money when you don’t send them out to order. The only thing you need to make your own business cards is a computer, the right tool, and a good color printer. There are many ways to make business cards online. The good thing is that you can follow the right video tutorial on YouTube without lack of graphic skills holding you back.
The trick is to select a style that best represents your work. The video below could be just a starting point before you start making them more fancier.
Music with a Metronome
Why is it important? Because learning about tempo and timing is critical to a musical education.
Nashville musician Eric Barfield gives us twenty reasons to use a metronome. When it comes to music, it’s not all about notes but also about timing. Play the right note at the right time and you have something beautiful. There are simple metronome beat counters on YouTube and tutorials on how to use it with popular instruments. The video below is for beginner guitarists.
Why is it important? Because poetry teaches you how to think and see the world in new ways.
And combined with technology, it can lend a hand against the crisis of literacy. SpokenVerse offers over 400+ readings of great poems in English, from William Shakespeare to Pablo Neruda. It is one of the lesser known – but richer – resources on YouTube. Film critic Robert Ebert had high praise for the channel and its narrator Tom ‘O Bedlam.
The reader is a pleasure to listen to. He makes no effort to “perform,” but simply and clearly respects the poetry, with understated emotion when necessary.
Learn Things in Plain English
Why is it important? Because learning interesting things need not be complex.
Confounded by Daylight Savings Time or what the heck is an Electoral College? CGP Grey comes to the rescue with simplified explanations of the most complex topics. Just to illustrate the value, watch the video that explains the entire Lord of The Rings mythos in under ten minutes!
What Have You Learned on YouTube?
I have learnt quite a few things myself – from making paper planes to learning the science of productivity. And that has made quite a difference. How has learning on YouTube helped you in your personal and professional life?
What is the most interesting thing YouTube has taught you so far? Tell us in the comments. We all want to learn!