If you’ve decided that you want to learn something new, but don’t know exactly what – here’s a post to help you come to a decision. We’ve already outlined some ideas for how to find a new hobby, but for those who’d specifically like to study, we’ve put together some further suggestions to help you get started.
What do you want to achieve with your learning?
Before we delve into the details of what to learn, let’s first take a look at what your aims might be. There’s never a bad time to learn something new, but having a goal in mind before you start can help you on your journey. Here are some popular learning outcomes to help you choose a goal.
Boost your employability
Although the world of work seems a little chaotic for many of us right now, things won’t always be so up in the air. When you’re considering what to learn online, you may want to improve your professional skills, ready for a promotion, new job, or even a career change.
With new technologies and processes being created at a fast pace, closing the skills gap can give you a significant advantage in your career. Whether you’re learning a totally new skill or improving on an existing one, it’s the kind of thing that can make you stand out from the crowd.
Expand your horizons
You don’t have to delve deep when you first start on your learning adventure. By taking an introductory course or studying the basics of a new subject, you can get a feel of whether it’s the right fit.
There are all kinds of hard and soft skills that you can start learning about. Even a small amount of study can support your existing knowledge and broaden your horizons. From there, you can think about the types of areas that will be most beneficial or interesting to you.
Improve your understanding of world issues
Many of us have been gripped by the coverage of current affairs related to COVID-19, with the feed of information almost constant. However, it can sometimes be difficult to focus on global issues aside from the headlines.
There are plenty of topics worth exploring that can give you a more detailed understanding of the world we live in. Studying the environment, human rights, ethics, religion, and other ideas and concepts can all help to give context to current affairs.
Build better relationships
If you’re not quite sure what to learn online, it’s worth giving some thought to improving your relationships. Emotional intelligence is an invaluable skill that can positively impact all areas of your life. Similarly, improving your communication skills can help in your personal and professional relationships.
Taking the time to work on your own wellbeing can bring significant improvements to your everyday interactions with the important people in your life. At this time of uncertainty, it could be just the thing you need.
Learn for pleasure
Of course, you may just want to study something purely for the joy of learning. There’s a lot to be said for picking a topic you don’t know much about and getting to know some of the basics. Lifelong learning is something that can bring benefits to all areas of your life, and you never know where it may take you.
To borrow from Dr Seuss, ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.’
So, you hopefully now have a goal or two in mind for your online learning. The next thing to do is to actually choose a subject to begin studying, but where to start?
We’ve put together a list of some ideas – each with a free online course you can take – that align with all of the main goals we’ve outlined.
Learning to boost your employability
The most in-demand hard skills:
Let’s start with professional development. Whether you’re working from home, furloughed, or waiting for the job market to start moving again, now is a good time to boost your CV. There are both hard skills and soft skills you can work on, both of which can bring benefits to your career.
As we take a look at some of the learning opportunities available, remember that many of the courses we’ve outlined provide certification upon completion. Such an acknowledgement of your studies can strengthen your CV and show your dedication to continued learning.
A recent LinkedIn study looked at the most in-demand hard and soft skills. This is a great place to start.
You’ve no doubt heard of terms like cryptocurrency and Bitcoin. The latter had a meteoric rise and fall during late 2017 and early 2018 and continues to be an interesting prospect to this day. Blockchain technology is what powers the Bitcoin digital currency. It’s one of the cutting-edge financial technologies of the moment, and knowledge in this field is highly sought-after.
Cloud computing is one of the technologies that will be the future of many businesses. Already, it’s a popular way of delivering data storage, software, analytics, and more. Essentially, it’s the use of the internet to offer fast and innovative computing services.
Data is now the most valuable commodity for businesses, and companies across the globe are finding new and unique ways to make sense of it. Emerging fields such as web analytics and big data are growing at a rapid pace. As such, those people who can analyse data and give insights to its meaning will find they’re in high demand.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) was once a science-fiction dream. Now, it’s very rapidly becoming a reality. Robots and AI can supplement and augment the way we work and live our lives. Those with an understanding of machine learning, big data, and other associated topics will find plenty of opportunities in the future.
User experience design is a field that focuses on how users interact with a product or service. Whether focused on apps, websites, or machines, UX design relates to the ease of use for the user. It takes into account aspects of design, market research, psychology, technology and business.
As companies generate more and more data, there is a need for people who can identify the business needs that arise from such data. Business analysts are the problem-solvers of modern organisations. If you’re wondering what to learn online, taking a course in a field such as big data analytics could be seriously beneficial.
Social media and influencers are starting to replace traditional advertising. Whether it’s social selling, leveraging industry experts, or promoting other companies’ products, affiliate marketing is one of the hot new skills businesses are on the lookout for.
Companies always have and likely always will need good salespeople. Whether you want to learn about customer insight or customer engagement, you can find a course that’s going to boost your knowledge of the sales process.
Continuing in the theme of technological advancements, scientific computing relates to a wide variety of professions. For newcomers to the field, a course on how computers work might be a good starting point. For the more experienced, we have an array of computer science courses on offer.
Video is becoming an increasingly popular medium for all things related to business. Customers love watching videos, so being able to produce high-quality content is a valuable skill. You can learn some of the fundamentals in our explore filmmaking course.
The most in-demand soft skills:
Some skills are hard to teach, quantify and measure, yet remain essential in the workplace. These soft skills are often known as interpersonal or people skills. Many businesses look for candidates with strong hard and soft skills, so it’s worth spending the time to develop both.
Being able to connect ideas, come up with unique solutions, and generate original concepts is valuable in all areas of life and business. A course in creative problem solving could be just the thing to help you flex your creative muscles. If you’d like to look at a few more options, we have a collection full of courses designed to help you get creative.
Whether you’re negotiating, leading a team, dealing with suppliers, or any other business task, persuasion is a sought-after skill. Communication skills are useful in general, and none more so than being able to persuade. Check out our course on successful negotiation if you’re looking for inspiration.
The ability to combine ideas and collaborate on finding solutions is something that makes humans unique. When applied to the workplace, being able to work with others is almost universally required. Why not try our course on collaboration, communication and remote working to brush up on your skills?
The fast-paced and often unpredictable nature of modern life means that adaptability is essential to thriving in the workspace. The ability to change direction on the fly and still deliver results is a soft skill that employers frequently look for.
It’s always useful to be in tune with your own and others’ emotions. It helps to build relationships and create a sense of togetherness. This emotional intelligence can help you understand others, resolve conflict, and make more informed decisions.
Learning to expand your horizons
If you’d rather spend your free time developing skills away from the world of work, there are plenty of options you can choose from. These skills to expand your horizons come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, meaning you can work on all kinds of areas of knowledge.
Learning a new language brings many benefits. It can help you connect with new people, give you a leg up in your career, improve your cognitive skills, and allow you to travel. By taking a language course now, you can put your new skills to the test on your next holiday. How’s that for motivation?
Studying other cultures can be an interesting way of expanding your horizons. Our course on cultures and identities in Europe, for example, gives you the chance to develop a greater understanding of Europe and its people. Alternatively, you could choose to study culture in the digital age to see how technology has impacted our lives.
Coding and programming are tools that are becoming increasingly relevant and important. Studying in this field can give you a greater understanding of how technology works. It also gives you the chance to work on all kinds of projects, whether for personal or professional advancement.
Nature & environment
The natural world around us is ever-changing and fascinating. Studying in the nature and environment sector gives you the chance to explore topics such as sustainability, extinctions, upcycling and the value of the ecosystem.
If you’re not quite sure what to learn online, why not study the art of studying? By brushing up on your study skills, you can make sure you’re performing at your best when you next choose a course to study. These are skills that can be useful both professionally and when you’re in a formal, academic study environment.
Learning to understand world issues
During the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have watched the global story unfold through the news and media. Although the virus has dominated headlines, there is still plenty to understand about the world. Choosing to learn about some of the key issues facing us today can be highly rewarding.
As one of the most pressing issues of modern times, climate change is something that we’re going to have to face and overcome together. Learning about the causes of climate change as well as some of the solutions can help you stay informed about the latest developments in this area.
Crime and criminology
The true-crime fascination of the last few years continues to influence our TV, podcasts, books, and other media. Whether it’s a subject you’re already interested in or you’re a total newcomer, crime and criminology is a fascinating and relevant area to learn about.
Our societies are rich, diverse and complex. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, societies can also be radically changed in a short space of time. Learning about some of the social issues that impact our lives can give you a greater understanding and appreciation of our cultures and values.
Like it or love it, politics are something that has a huge influence over our lives. By learning about how the government and politics work, you can make sure you understand how certain key issues impact society. It’s a varied field too, with topics as diverse as international development and gender identity.
The attention of the world is on our various healthcare systems and how they’re holding up during the pandemic. Now is the perfect time to learn about healthcare, especially with courses such as nursing in times of crisis and pooling healthcare data around the world.
Learning to build better relationships
We can all appreciate how important relationships are in our life, but sometimes relationships can suffer from negative patterns, poor communication, or just a lack of dedicated time. Consciously improving your relationships takes time and effort, but is incredibly rewarding as well.
The ability to effectively communicate with our friends, relatives, co-workers, and other people in our lives is often underappreciated. Yet it’s what brings us together and lets us understand each other. With courses available such as this one on intercultural communication, you can learn why communication is so valuable, and how you can improve your own skills.
Taking care of your physical and emotional wellbeing is always a positive move. In terms of your relationships with others, it can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance, understand others’ thoughts and feelings, and boost your mental health.
This is a topic that’s closely linked to wellbeing. Mindfulness is the act of being present in the moment and connecting with your feelings. Activities such as practising mindfulness can help you feel calmer and more appreciative about the important people in your life.
Management and leadership
The people we work with are often some of those we spend the most time with. It’s therefore worth the time investing in building relationships with them. Not only can learning about management and leadership help with that process, but it can also improve your career prospects overall.
Psychology is a broad and interesting field. Learning about the inner-workings of the mind can help us appreciate the way we and others think. This understanding can help you build your relationships with others.
Learning for pleasure
Of course, many of us enjoy learning for the sheer enjoyment it brings. There are a whole host of topics we could include here, as well as all the ones we’ve already covered. However, we’ve tried to pick out some of the popular subjects that people are interested in right now.
It’s always fun to learn about history. The world that was has shaped the world that is, so it’s fascinating to look back and piece the puzzle together. We have a fantastic range of history courses on offer, covering British and Irish history, archaeology, military history and many more areas.
Whether you’re a film buff, culture vulture, budding photographer, or journalist in the making, the creative arts have plenty to offer. If you considering what to learn online and you’re feeling a bit creative, this is the perfect field to delve into.
If you’ve always wanted to learn more about literature past and present, you’ll find a wealth of courses and resources available to you. You can learn about the importance of words and the power they hold to help shape the world.
Whether you’re learning a new instrument or studying musical theory, there are few better ways to get your creativity flowing than with studying a music course. Find out how to write your first song or gain a better understanding of how musical scores work.
Playing video games is a pastime that many of us have indulged during our evenings and weekends. With that in mind, now might be a good time to turn that hobby into a more creative one. A game development course could be just the thing to take on for your online learning project.
If you still haven’t found a topic that you’re interested in, perhaps you can find the right course by browsing our short courses and seeing what piques your interest.