Technology has made education through listening very easy and also very cheap. Most of the cell phones can play MP3 files. Most libraries offer audio downloads of books to cellphones. There are many free online podcasts on various educational topics. If you have an iTunes account, you have access to iTunes University that has audio lectures from Professors from all major universities. So, education is available for free in a device that is with you all the time. Yes, all the time, when you are driving or doing chores around the house or working out at the gym or grocery shopping. Extrapolating some studies on time spent on commuting, doing chores etc., I am estimating that on an average most people spend 2 to 4 hours per day on the above activities. These activities are purely physical and most of the times the mind is not fully engaged. So, we definitely can use this time to get an education.
For example, lets say you wanted to get an education on “Corporate Strategy”. You find two books in this category that grab your attention. Lets say they are “Blue Ocean Strategy: How to create uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant” and “Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter“. Total audio 8 hrs 07 mins. On iTunes University you select lectures like “Using Megatrends to Design Strategy by Ashok Vasudevan, lecture given at Yale University” , “Vision, Values & Strategy by Rick Wallace at Stanford University” “Michael Porter – Strategy Conference, HEC Paris” and “Innovation Strategy, Boston University” . Total audio time – approx 4 hrs. Then for variety, you want to hear 4 to 5, 30 minute audio podcasts on strategy then management consulting companies like PWC and McKinsey have lots of them. Total audio time – approx 2 hrs.
Do you get the idea? If you are spending on an average 2 hours/day on the physical activities that don’ have your mind engaged then you can use that time to get an education. In just a week, here is what you can accomplish.
- Complete 2 Audio Books (Avg duration 4hrs/book)
- Complete 4 Audio Lectures (Avg duration 1 hr/lecture)
- Complete 4 Audio podcasts (Avg duration 1/2 hr/podcast)
In just a week, you can listen up on any topic of your liking and get benefited. Topics like Leadership, Communication, Project Management, Productivity, you name it. So, the time you were spending listening to radio, talking on the phone or simply day dreaming can now be productively utilized to get an education. Free education from varied and multiple sources. Timeless wisdom from books old and new. Formal teaching from Professors around the world. Contemporary knowledge from today’s experts. All in all an education that you can choose based on your interests and needs.
Disclaimer: I am definitely not advocating that this type of education replace the class-room education but if you are stressed for time or money then here is an option. Also, I personally have not been this productive. Sometimes it is hard to follow one’s own advice.
What do you think?