A New Direction For My Blogging

by Race Bannon on November 29, 2011

I apologize for not posting this sooner. After many months of attempting to post to and maintain multiple blog sites, I have decided to take my blogging in a new direction. I will now only blog on my racebannon.com site. Self-education is still a passion of mine and I plan to write about self-education, and learning in general, often. But I have many other interests as well and it’s not feasible for me to maintain multiple sites, each pertaining to one of my many interests. So please visit, bookmark and subscribe to my racebannon.com blog site. Over time I plan to move all of my existing posts from this site to racebannon.com with the plan to shut this site down entirely at some point in the future. I will delete posts from this site when I move them to racebannon.com. Click on the Self-Education and Learning category on my other site to view all posts that would have previously been posted here. To those who have visited here over the past year, many thanks. I hope you’ll continue to follow my posts on the other site. Be well.

Race Bannon


How to Become a Focused Reader

by Race Bannon on June 11, 2011

This guest post is contributed by Mariana Ashley, a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031@gmail.com.

One of the most important activities that a committed self-learner can engage in is reading. Of course, I don’t mean that self-learners should read just anything that grabs their fancy, though there’s certainly room for that sort of light reading every now and then; I mean that self-learners benefit the most when they pursue a targeted, focused kind of reading, one that combines their pleasures with their desire to learn more. The most successful readers create reading lists that combine these two factors, and they follow the reading list regularly.

As one of those readers, someone who is constantly looking out for great books to read, I’ve benefited from eventually creating a system of my own, which I use to organize my yearly reading. I’ve pulled some lessons I’ve learned from making this system and put them into a list of tips that can help you create your own focused reading lists.

Follow a Reading Routine and Calendar

I tend to organize my reading lists into three month chunks, simply because I really liked the semester calendar from my college days. Feel free to organize your own reading calendar however you’d like; the important thing is that you read regularly and often. I try to read for one hour a day in the evening after dinner.

Pick an Interesting Theme

Each reading ‘semester’ I pick a theme that will guide my reading. Two years ago I went to Russia for vacation, so for three months before the summer trip, I themed my reading list around Russian literature and culture. Another year, I somehow became fascinated by the First World War, so I made a reading list that grew out of Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August. It’s usually best to make this theme connect to some aspect of your life: an upcoming trip, a subject that could help your career, interesting relationships, or subjects that you’re passionate about.

Read a Variety of Books

You’ll also want to read a variety of different kinds of books. Don’t only read novels. Don’t only read self-help books. Try to spread your reading around a theme, selecting books from all areas of human knowledge: biology, fiction, philosophy, and so on. As a personal rule, I try to read three books at a time: one contemporary fiction, one classic literature, and one non-fiction book from a rotating discipline, such as history, philosophy, psychology, and so on.

Organize Your Reading List

This tip will try to keep you from having dead periods in your reading. How often have you stood in front of a bookshelf and couldn’t decide what to read next? I’ve done it many times, so I decided one day to organize my reading list so that I would know what book I should read next. This keeps me from losing focus in my reading, and it also forces me to make interesting connections between the books I read.

Keep a Reading Journal

Finally, you should keep a reading journal with you when you read. That way you can write down your thoughts about the book as you read or after you’ve read, and you can track how long it took you to read the book. The journal will be a record of your learning progress through each reading ‘semester,’ and it will help you plan out your future reading lists.


OpenStudy – The Virtual Study Group

by Race Bannon on June 8, 2011

I read this post on TechCrunch today about OpenStudy. OpenStudy is a new startup virtual study group for students studying mathematics, writing and English, history and much more. From what I can tell, they combine the elements social media, online gaming and learning in a way I find quite clever.

Check it out. And if you know anyone studying those subjects who might want some support and interaction with other students, let them know about it.


Learning By Writing Thank You Letters

by Race Bannon on April 5, 2011

In my Thank You Letters As Writing Practice post today on my new Write Speak Show blog I commented on how writing such letters can act as motivation to write regularly and thereby improve writing skills. But since the post is about learning to write better and that’s related to self-education, I thought I’d alert my readers here to the post. Let me know what you think.


Cost Influencing Education Decisions

by Race Bannon on March 17, 2011

In recent weeks I’ve heard a lot of discussion on television, radio and social media about whether it’s worth the cost and time to attend college. What’s at the heart of these discussions and why are they becoming more prevalent? The answer is money.

As with so much in life these days, cost often becomes the factor that influences a trend. Raise the price of gas, people drive less. Raise the price of cigarettes, people smoke less. Raise the price of a college education, and more people will reconsider going to college. Alternative paths to an education and career are now rising to the top of viable education options. The price of a college education is climbing dramatically and that is putting it out of the reach of a significant number of people.

The University of California system recently raised the cost of student fees by 32%. 32%! That’s an incredible jump in cost and no one seems to think such increases are going to slow down anytime soon. The University of California is not a unique situation. Soaring costs are happening in higher educational institutions across the United States.

What this means is that alternative ways of obtaining an education are going to rise in popularity. I think this is a good thing. For too long the Holy Grail of education has been the traditional college education to the exclusion of any other seriously considered options. I think the current atmosphere of escalating college costs combined with the exponential increase in the pace of new knowledge and skills needed to remain competitive in the modern workplace is creating a perfect storm for change.

Without a doubt, a college education is the right choice for many. But when that is not a viable option for someone, or when someone’s life or professional goals don’t necessitate a college eduction, self-education can prove quite valuable.


Learning Science and Mobile Education

by Race Bannon on January 26, 2011

Today I was scanning TechCrunch (great site to keep up with current technology news and trends) and I read an interesting post, McGraw Hill Gets In On the Mobile Education Market. The post mentioned two items of interest.

First, within the context of the United States’ lackluster performance in science education lately, the author pointed out Scitable, Nature Publishing Group’s free online science library. If you have an interest in science, this appears to be a great learning resource.

Second, the post mentioned McGraw Hill’s entry into the mobile education market. The author appears somewhat skeptical of mobile learning, but I consider it an important part of the world’s learning future. Why not learn on the go? Learning can take place anywhere and be facilitated through many venues. So mobile learning on a phone, tablet or laptop makes sense to me. Over time I believe self-educators will be provided with many mobile learning delivery options that can enhance one’s self-education efforts.

Another related post on TechCrunch today, Scitable.com Goes Mobile, describes a just released mobile-friendly version of the Scitable site. When Scitable announced their new mobile version, they mentioned that their “…mission is to democratize access to science education” and I think that’s a great mission.

Check out the posts and let me know your thoughts.


Technology Is Not the Enemy

by Race Bannon on January 6, 2011

I hear a constant refrain on many fronts that somehow technology is the enemy of true education. However, I see so many upsides to technology and how it can be used to promote more and better education. Sylvia Martinez’ post, Your Brain Might Freeze That Way, expresses my frustration with complaints about technology better than I can. Read it and let me know what you think.


OK, Self-Education It Is

by Race Bannon on November 12, 2010

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know I made the conscious decision from the start to use self education instead of the more conventional spelling of self-education. I had my reasons, but after a steady series of times when my grammatical skills have been called into question, I give in. From now on I’ll be using the conventional self-education form of the hyphenated word.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know I made the conscious decision from the start to use self education instead of the more conventional spelling of self-education. I had my reasons, but after a steady series of times when my grammatical skills have been called into question, I give in. From now on I’ll be using the conventional self-education form of the hyphenated word.

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Four Tips for New Self-Learners

by Alvina Lopez on November 2, 2010

This guest post is contributed by Alvina Lopez, who writes on the topics of accredited online colleges .  She welcomes your comments at her email ID: alvina.lopez@gmail.com.

Although our education shouldn’t stop after we graduate from college or complete a training program, it’s sometimes hard to carry on the routine of constantly learning new things. Some of us are naturally curious and have no trouble searching out new sources of knowledge; however, others of us face busy schedules, might lack the right resources, and sometimes feel just too busy to keep learning. But that doesn’t mean we can’t change our routine! Those of us who do struggle to continue furthering our education could benefit from a few tips to keep our self-education on track. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t try to improve ourselves, our careers, and our knowledge.

Gather Resources

One thing individual self-educators lack is a formal set of learning resources, the kind you might find at a university or training center. Instead of already having these resources readily available, self-educators must build their own library, so to speak. Search out and bookmark websites that provide free educational and inspirational material, such as TED or Project Gutenberg. Some universities also make lectures available on YouTube. Many educational programs are available on internet radio. Also check out physical libraries and museums in your area; be sure to visit these often, especially when new exhibits come to town.

Create Learning Goals

Teachers at all levels begin each semester, week, and day with a set of learning objectives to keep the class on track. Because you are your own teacher, you’ll want to think up your personal learning objectives. Create a semester of study for yourself. Maybe in three months, you’ll try to have a basic familiarity with a new language? Or perhaps your goal will be to have read an author’s major works of literature? Regardless of your interests, having a goal to aim for will help keep you learning.

Reflect on your Learning

As you study on your own, you may not have access to other students to help you. Instead, you might want to consider writing in a journal or learning log. By reflecting on your learning experience, you’ll be able to work through concepts you might initially not understand. Through reflection, you can try to reexamine things you’ve read, listened to, or experienced, all from a new perspective. Reflection as a learning tool is an important practice. Think of your self-reflection process as similar to how astronauts often debrief after an important mission.

Find a Partner

Finally, try to find a learning partner, someone with whom you can discuss what you’ve learned. Working together with a partner can often help you discover something you hadn’t previously thought up on your own. In many ways, someone who shares your own interest in learning can be just the right inspiration to keep you on your path. This person can be a husband or wife, a co-worker, a family member, or a neighbor. As long as you both can check in with each other and talk about your progress, you’ll feel as though you’re not alone in your pursuit of knowledge.


How to Study

by Race Bannon on September 1, 2010

I stumbled upon a great web site today, how-to-study.com. Dr. Charles Mangrum and Dr. Stephen Strichart created this free study skills resource site and I love it. It targets learners/students at all levels and has a wealth of great articles and study tips. If you’re a teacher, there are also some curriculum products for sale for grades 4 through college.

While much of the content on this site focuses on study skills to be used for traditional classroom-based schooling, it’s rather easy to translate most of the material to suit the needs of the self educator.


Is Web-Based Learning the College of the Future?

August 6, 2010

At the Techonomy conference taking place now in Lake Tahoe, California, that focuses on new ways to look at the economic power of innovation, Bill Gates expressed the opinion that within five years the web will provide the means by which anyone who is self-motivated will be able to attain a world-class college education. Check [...]

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March 25, 2010

Today I want to encourage every self educator to visit Self Made Scholar. Jamie Littlefield’s great blog and accompanying learning resources make Self Made Scholar a site worthy of bookmarking and visiting repeatedly. There aren’t currently a lot of recent blog posts, but that doesn’t diminish the tremendous usefulness of the site or the relevancy [...]

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