Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. Right?…Right?
How terribly droll. No, teaching isn’t the preserve of the inept. Teaching is an important process in learning. One of my first technology jobs had this baked into its training process, where new hires had to “see one, do one and teach one”.
Teaching allows you to consolidate information you’ve learned, and to absorb new concepts faster and better. And it is no longer the preserve of academics and schoolteachers. Anyone can become a teacher. Here’s how.
Start A Blog
So, I’m a software developer by trade. I do front-end and back-end stuff; I am always reading about the latest trends on HackerNews and Reddit; and Im always hacking away at something or other. And I blog.
Firstly, it means that I end up understanding stuff that little bit better. I consolidate new concepts, transforming them from purely practical applications to something more concrete. I can also learn from the people who end up leaving a comment, which is often. It’s also incredibly gratifying when people leave comments, thanking you for articulating something which they struggled to understand before.
Secondly, it means that I can curate an air of authority. I can show other people (and potential employers) that I’m passionate about learning, developing and improving. This is incredibly valuable, especially when I’m on the hunt for internships or employment.
Getting started with blogging is incredibly easy. I’m incredibly fond of the WordPress platform, which has an incredible community surrounding it. If you’re a total novice in this field, why don’t you check out MakeUseOf’s WordPress manual, which should teach you all you need to know about getting started with WordPress.
Start A Podcast
Got a laptop with a built in microphone?
I listen to a lot of podcasts. I’ve appeared on podcasts in the past, and in the past I’ve even ran a couple of my own. For those completely uninitiated with the concept of podcasting, they allow you to create radio shows which are distributed online. Whilst they can be comparatively quite costly to host and produce, they come with some pretty compelling selling points.
Let’s be blunt. Podcasts are big business. Many people listen to them as they while away their commutes and the working day. Millions are downloaded daily, and they’ve become almost ubiquitous. If you want to reach a large number of people, but perhaps aren’t too keen on writing a blog, you should consider starting a podcast. At the very least, you’ll learn about public speaking, which is a useful skill to have.
There’s a notable downside. Hosting podcasts is expensive, especially when you’re hosting it yourself. Success can be quite costly (WBEZ’s This American Life costs almost $160,000 to distribute) and it’s actually reasonably difficult to monetize podcasts, especially when compared to blog advertising.
Teach A MOOC Course
I always thought ‘MOOC’ was an insult dished out by New-York gangsters in Scorsese films.
Yeah, perhaps not. It stands for ‘Massive Open Online Course’, and they’re democratizing education, allowing people to take university-level courses without having to fork out the exorbitant fees demanded by most universities.
I’ve written about MOOC as compelling alternatives, and I’m pretty fond of them, having enrolled in a couple of courses myself. Whilst many are run by bricks-and-mortar universities in the US, Australia and Europe, there are opportunities to run your own courses online.
Sites such as Udemy and Curious (my favorite) allow anyone to run an online course, and even earn money whilst you’re at it. You also get to interact with people on your course, learning from user feedback and constantly improving. Cool, right?
Reddit fans can check out The University of Reddit, which is a MOOC platform loosely associated with the popular social news website. It allows people to create their own courses, and already has a healthy user base, although lacks some of the features found on Udemy and Curious.com
Start a YouTube show
YouTube has allowed the most irritating breed of jump-cutting, pseudo-random twerps to unleash their inane ramblings on an audience of millions. It has also allowed very smart people indeed to run courses, teaching people and developing a following.
Perhaps the most famous one of these is The New Boston, run by a chap called Bucky. For years, Bucky has been running classes in Java, PHP and C++. These have been watched and shared by millions, and although many have found quarrel with certain aspects of his programming technique (especially with respect to the naming of variables and functions), the quality of his content is actually pretty decent.
Getting started on YouTube is really quite easy. Likewise, monetizing YouTube content is easy, with Google’s AdSense platform being baked in and accessible to anyone who has posted a moderately successful video at some point. The difficult part is developing your audience and your content.
For me, the latter would be the most pressing concern. YouTube comments are notoriously bad, and it’s often difficult to distinguish between genuine criticism and blatant trolling. To the credit of Google — the owners of YouTube — they’ve started addressing this by linking YouTube accounts to Google Plus (and therefore the real-life identities of the posters).
Teaching is a fun, rewarding experience, and one I would recommend wholeheartedly. It should go without saying that the Internet has been incredible in the way it democratizes the ways one can share our experiences and knowledge.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Are you using the Internet to teach? Are you enrolled in any online classes? Drop me a comment below.