In my year of living more creativity and embracing my off-again on-again obsessions with everything from knitting to storytelling, I’ve been taking a lot of classes.
I’ve always had a great love for learning, buying the latest book on tidying up, personal finance or memoir writing. But, like many people, I tend to buy a book, read half of it, do the exercises (sort of), then leave said book on my bedside table where it sits, unread but half highlighted, for months before storing it for “I swear I’ll read it later” use.
Thankfully though, San Francisco is a learning mecca and I’ve been experimenting with in-person classes. Unlike college, I’ve never been too tired to go and I desperately want to be there.
My first foray into being a student again was during my yoga teacher training in New Zealand. Then again on a Trail Mavens trip where I learned how to read a topo map. At Workshop I learned to sew. At the Renaissance Center I wrote a business plan. And then, most recently, at my writing class at the Book Passage.
I also took a storytelling class through Udemy. Which, for those of you unfamiliar with the platform, is online. The class was fantastic. I learned things. I did the worksheets. I got a fantastic foundation for storytelling. But I didn’t leave feeling particularly inspired.
Not that the teacher wasn’t great. And not because the material was boring. He was and it wasn’t. The problem is that I’m always on my damn computer, so adding more things to my digital to-do list doesn’t fill me with longing. I found myself playing Hay Day while only half listening to the teacher. Being in a classroom, on the other hand, demands my full attention and I leave empowered and ready to work.
During January’s writing class my love for the written word overwhelmed me, in most part due to the room’s energy. Everyone’s attention was 100% focused on the teacher, who answered questions as she went and rewarded us with compliments and eye contact. We did exercises then and there, receiving immediate feedback. We took breaks and talked to each other about our personal projects. We shared stories we had written. We were present. Going back to my notes has not only been educational, but fills me with the same sense of longing I felt during those six hours in a classroom. I not only learned how to be a better writer, but I left feeling like one.
Online courses, though, have left me only partly educated and feeling very much like an amateur. And trust me, I’ve done them all – everything from starting an online business to blogging to running. And while I 100% value these courses, I have actually finished, and found value in, very few.
I understand why people create these classes as it’s scalable passive income. I’ve done it myself. Anyone with a skill to teach can do it and there are dozens of platforms to host your video series/ebook/online community. I might even do it again.
But I recently considered applying for an interior design program at San Francisco’s Academy of Art, where I found out that should I want to get my degree online, it would cost exactly the same as doing it in-person. That worries me. When did we start thinking the two were the same?
To be honest, the most value I get from an online course is the moment I buy it. The feeling of excitement that I’m about to make a change. The burst of motivation from getting materials via email that eventually dissipates into yet another to do.
Part of my desire to get creative this year is due to a lack of inspiration found sitting at my laptop. And while I’ve learned more online than I ever did in my four years of college, I’ve never been as inspired and hopeful as I was as a student. I wish I could marry the two.
Is this just me and the way I learn? Or have you too felt underwhelmed by learning online? I’m eager to hear if I’m missing something or if I should, from here on out, focus solely on in-person learning.