Picking Up New Skills in a Digital World

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It’s no secret that widespread access to the internet and online resources has democratized previously out-of-reach knowledge and skills. What used to exist behind a paywall – whether that was at an educational establishment or otherwise – is now freely available to anybody who can use a search engine. Answers to questions as diverse as “how to trade on the stock market” and “how to make pancakes” take just a few clicks to find, and there are tons of free resources out there for practical tips on how to complete both everyday tasks and more complex undertakings. 

Beyond that, paid-for online platforms are connecting people at home with experts from around the world, and often for a much more reasonable price than traditional learning routes typically cost. They also have the added boon of greater convenience and flexibility. 

We’ve now had public access to the internet for 32 years (or near enough), and the Google search engine has existed for 25 of those years. So, in this modern digital world, what are the best ways to pick up new skills online? And how have online resources progressed over the last 3 decades?  

Let’s take a look. 

Image Credit: Anton Savinov via Unsplash

Online Learning Platforms 

During the past few years, sites such as MasterClass, Skillshare and Udemy have put millions of learners in touch with specialized teachers and resources so that they can learn thousands of new skills from home. There is often a split between paid-for services and free services, but most platforms offer something for a broad range of budgets.  

Some of the most popular courses on Masterclass right now are Bobbi Brown’s on Makeup and Beauty, Helen Mirren’s on Acting, and Shonda Rhimes’ on Screenwriting. In the past, these skills would need to be taught in specialist schools, through apprenticeships, or on the job itself. Whether pursuing knowledge as a hobby or with hopes of becoming a professional, the world of online learning platforms means that you can learn in your own time and on your own schedule without needing to leave your living room – and often for a fraction of the cost. 

Online Entertainment 

There have been several standout events in the world of online entertainment recently, and over the past 20 years in particular, with each one making significant (though perhaps unexpected) contributions to online education and skill sharing. For example, whereas the rules, gameplay and insider knowledge of table games were once limited to brick-and-mortar casinos, with the boom in online gaming platforms came a wider dissemination of this knowledge. 


Now, it is possible to benefit from the detailed, in-depth advice available on reputable platforms which can help any beginner get off to a great start and even encourage experienced pros to kick it up a notch. One globally popular table game is blackjack and, although the premise of it seems fairly straightforward, learning the ins and outs of its available side bets, like blackjack insurance, can help to give any player an edge.

Outside written advice, the popularity of gaming channels on platforms like Twitch has given keen fans and aspiring pros the chance to learn trade secrets from their favorite eSports heroes and gaming gods. Walkthroughs and Easter eggs used to be made available through printed magazines and even books, but now eager gamers can pick up the info by watching play throughs or joining livestreams and chatting directly with those in the know. 

Social Media 

So far, we have concentrated on active learning, where people are seeking out knowledge for themselves and proactively taking it on board. However, social media is responsible for an enormous amount of passive learning, which is benefitting people in all areas of life. 

The rise of the influencer means that many social media users now look to these very visible figures for advice on where to shop, what to eat and how to look. There has also been a notable increase in social media stars sharing tips, tricks and insights with their audiences. This ranges from how to contour your nose using eyeliner to how to damp-proof an inside wall in your new home. Although audiences are mostly watching this content as entertainment, they are often picking up pertinent knowledge – or ‘life hacks’ – along the way which can then be applied to their own lives. 

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