I’m happy to share part two of Matt Hugg’s guest blogs on learning.

To be effective, learning is best in small doses extended over time. It’s just how the human brain works. Yet education and training are too easily compartmentalized – like something you do on your “off” time. Worse yet, too many nonprofits consider training a treat, like candy, something extra. “If you’re good” you’ll be rewarded with an all-expense paid “training” (pseudo-vacation) to an exotic destination (like Chicago in the dead of winter) where you can “learn” (between shopping excursions on Michigan Ave.) and report your findings at an upcoming staff meeting (which never seems to get scheduled). Your biggest takeaway? Memories of that great restaurant across town.

The best way to learn is by turning it into a habit, just like brushing your teeth or moving your muscles. Do it daily, or even more than once a day. That used to mean plowing through a book every morning. That’s not a bad idea, but today you have a lot more choices.

Did you ever write a letter, a real paper letter to someone? Whether that’s a distant memory or a quaint experience only reserved for your grandmother’s eyes, you rarely ever do it. Why? Even Grandma is part of the social media world, demanding to see her grandchild’s every move on whichever platform you pick. She appreciates a nice thank you card as much as anyone, but she really wants the sounds, images, and graphics that only social media can deliver.

So it is with online education. What used to be a poorly implemented emulation of the in-person lecture is now a multi-channel, multi-sensory experience, happening anywhere you want, all aimed at getting essential information into your head.

But how do you leverage it? It starts with making it a habit, supported by a culture of learning, and can go so much further.

  • Besides making learning more engaging, online education can be packaged in convenient, bite-sized bits to fit any time or brain.
  • It’s easily shared with others. How many times have you said, “I wish So-and-So could hear this.” Now So-and-So can! Just share the link, and later that day, you can both put that learning to work.
  • Didn’t grasp a concept? You can’t hit “rewind” at a live seminar. Instead, some online learning allows the instructor to see your questions in real-time – so they can interact, live, on your schedule.
  • What about the cost? There’s a huge amount of high- quality, free content available for nonprofits (such as at Courses), and the paid content is usually a real value. It’s perfect for a cash-strapped nonprofit on a limited budget!

To sum it up, don’t be afraid. There’s great news. You can take advantage of the technology at your disposal. In our on-demand world, where everyone demands something of you, you have an on-demand advantage: online education.

What do you think about Matt’s thoughts on learning? How does this play our for you?  Please comment below!