Busy? Here are 5 ways you can keep on learning

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Continuous learning is one of the best habits newcomers can cultivate. Being in a new land, with new rules, language and culture, learning how to learn efficiently is necessary to be able to integrate faster. For most newcomers, the first few days and weeks in Manitoba are spent on attending seminars, workshops and lectures to improve language skills, know how to get a job, and find resources for everyday life. However, once employed and immersed in the daily grind, many stop training and taking advantage of venues for continued education. This is understandable, because while newcomers do want to learn, many are just too busy for it.

If you are one those people who want to learn but don’t have time, the following tips will help you carve out learning opportunities within your busy schedule and make you maximize the limited free time you have:

  1. Take advantage of workplace seminars

    Professional development is a big thing and is always encouraged in companies in Manitoba. Aside from formal academic programs, many sponsor short courses, talks, seminars and symposia for their employees to motivate and sustain productivity. The best part is that they give time off for employees to attend such programs. To find out workplace seminars available, make it a habit to check your office bulletin board, newsletter, or the Human Resources Department for announcements. You can also discuss trainings that you are interested in with your supervisor or manager. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get extra points for your initiative and willingness to improve in your job.

  2. Build your PLN

    PLN stands for Personal (or Professional) Learning Network. Nowadays, this is assisted by social media to connect you with others. Put simply, a PLN is a group of people you link with to learn from or share resources with about specific topics or areas of interest. Imagine an enriched Facebooking or Tweeting session where you not only share selfies, but links to interesting features, news and articles that could help you improve your work, or learn new skills. Want to know more about PLNs and how to build your own? Then read, What’s a PLN and why do you need it?

    Aside from building a PLN, you can also allot some time reading online materials on virtually anything under the sun. You can tailor your readings based on your profession, interest or need. To save time, you can have materials curated for you by subscribing to Pinterest, trade newsletters or magazines. These sites can email daily or monthly updates to you, usually free of charge. To start you off, you can try subscribing to LinkedIn Pulse or Workopolis (for career tips and trends), CBC News Canada (current events), or Time Magazine (current events, trends, but not all articles can be accessed for free). This will be good for your early morning reading while commuting to work, or perhaps an hour before you go to bed.

  3. Subscribe to TED Talks

    TED Talks is an organization that hosts conferences on various themes. It features experts who deliver lectures, each running for 18 minutes or less. Initially, the talks delved on technology, entertainment and design (TED), but have now encompassed almost all topics in more than 100 languages. You can go to the site to view video lectures from experts talking about anything from entertainment to global issues, or subscribe and get a recommended talk each day (via email). This way, you get to spend less than 20 minutes a day learning about something new. That’s a productive way to spend part of your lunch break don’t you think?

    Here’s a TED Talk on “How to believe in yourself” by Jim Cathcart to get you started:

  4. Free seminars for newcomers

    Free programs for newcomers abound in Manitoba. There are workshops and seminars to help you learn English to various practical skills training that may run for several weeks. These can take a lot of your time, but many are held in the evenings or on weekends. Some also offer child-minding services to help you concentrate on your participation. You can check MOSAIC newcomer family resource network for English classes with child care and Family Programs (parenting, health care, etc.) or the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg’s English as a Second Language Program. Winnipeg Harvest offers various skills training and learning opportunities such as computer courses, mentorship and apprenticeship programs, even American Sign Language and Yoga. Check for schedules here.

    There are many other programs available out there for you. To know about them, connect with us through our Facebook page or check with immigrant serving organizations.

  5. Take a MOOC

    A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a program you can attend at your convenience, delivered over the internet. Various sites, including major universities, offer MOOCs on various topics, and many are for free. The great thing about them is that you don’t have to spend time travelling, or dressing up. You also get to read materials, watch videos on your free time, and ask questions anytime online. Here’s a short video by Neal Gillis, narrated by Dave Cormier explaining what a MOOC is:

    It’s easy to look for MOOCs and registering for them (try MOOCs: Top 10 sites for free education with elite universities from BDPA-Detroit). The trouble is committing to it. You have to be fairly self-directed in your learning to be able to get the best out of MOOCs. For tips on becoming a self-directed learner, read the article 4 steps to becoming a self-directed learner and How to create a self-directed learning plan from DIY Genius.

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