EP4: Finding Study Resources

Hello everyone and welcome. If you’re new to the podcast, I want to welcome you to the show and thank you for coming along. If you want to listen to previous episodes of the show you can find the shows and the show notes on the autodidactics.info the website.

The autodidact podcast is a podcast to help self learners try and become more efficient and more effective in the way that they learn and how they proceed. You don’t have to listen to all the podcasts but I would recommend that if you hear something you don’t understand that is a reference to a previous show you should probably go back and listen.

On today’s show we’ll discuss gathering resources for your self-study sessions. The resources we’re gonna talk about today run the gamut from physical to electronic, from free to paid, and everything in between. We’ll start the show with paid resources and work our way through to the places where you can get free resources at the end of the show. As always I like to solicit feedback and suggestions for my show from listeners so if you would like to give some feedback on the show you can feel free to email me at rick@autodidactic.info where I’m happy to take suggestions.

It’s been a busy week for me this week as I’m recording the show I’ve managed to overwhelm myself with resources and I’m struggling to make my way through all of them. I got a large number of SRS cards or spaced repetition cards to get through and it’s becoming a bit of a torture to get through all 400 or 500 cards per day.

However, hopefully at the end of the show you will have gained some insight into where to get yourself some resources for your study times and you might have the dubious pleasure of having too many resources as well.

I’ve got a large number of dead tree formatted books to read and a lot of electronic books as well. I’m also attempting to improve my memory and recall using some of the memory methods in use today such as a memory Palace, or the Dominic method, et cetera. Just for fun I had a go at memorising Pi to 25 decimal points and honestly it was very easy but unless you continue to hone and test yourself I think you can rapidly forget some of the things which you use these systems to memorise. In a later show I’ll discuss some of the methods for memorization.

Right, let’s get into today’s show. Today were gonna talk about where to get resources for your study. I will put links to any place I mention on the Internet in the show notes.

Let’s begin with paid resources.

As the name would suggest these are resources for which you have to pay money. These include things like purchasing books off of Amazon, paying for a tutor, paying for a class, or paying for a subscription to an online training course. Now depending on what your topic is you may have a wide variety of paid resources which you can use. Generally these type of resources are going to be very high quality, simply because people have an expectation of quality when they’re paying.

Let’s look at some of the resources available to you today.

Amazon

Abe books

World of books.com

Cheapesttextbooks.com

Ebay

These are just a sample of places on the Internet where you can purchase textbooks. Abe books sells mostly used books but with delivery all around the world.

With Amazon on you have access to not only textbooks but workbooks, sample tests and many other items of study. So purchasing resources is pretty straightforward and shouldn’t really be difficult for anyone to do.

Additional resources might include online tutoring, for example if you’re learning a language you can go to iTalki.com and schedule lessons with teachers or tutors in the language in which you want to learn.

A number of websites have sprung up in recent years on the Internet where you can get video instruction. Probably the largest one of these is Udemy.com but there are many others including Pluralsite if you are interested in programming languages.

In addition to paid sites let’s move on to sites which are technically free, but have some payment requirements. These type of sites are exchange sites which are technically free but you pay for some postage.

In the UK I use a website called readitswapit.co.uk where you put up a list of books that you no longer want and you can swap these books for books other people no longer want. On the website you agree to do an exchange and then you both post each other the books that you’ve selected. Here the service itself is free however you pay for the postage of sending your books to the other person.

Now in addition to the paid and semi free resources there are a number of resources which are absolutely free. I suspect most of my listeners are going to be interested in this category of resources. If you’re anything like me you struggle to find the money for everything you need and want to do. This means we need to be very frugal in our approach to becoming autodidactic.

One of the very first free resources I would like to discuss is available to just about everybody in a first world country as well as available to a number of other countries. This is your local library.

If you have the ability to go to a local library you should take every opportunity to join support and use your local library. If there is a library system in your country this is going to be one of the best free resources you will ever find for self-education. For example, the reason that I am currently having an overabundance of resources to use is because I overbooked checkouts from my local library. I am very privileged in that my local library allows me to browse their collection online reserve the book online and have it delivered to my local library from other branch libraries in the same system.

So although my local library branch is very small, smaller than most peoples living rooms, I have access to dozens of other larger libraries.

In addition to books, videos, and audio materials, my local library also gives me access to Internet databases, language courses, and other online subscriptions that I can use for free via my library card. It is well worth a visit to your local library to find out what is available to you.

The next free resource like to discuss is the Internet. And while I realise that were all paying for access to the Internet most of the resources that I’m going to discuss are available for download for free. So ignoring the cost of the actual Internet connection let’s talk about these resources.

There are a number of organisations and people who release textbooks under a creative Commons or public domain licence. You can download a number of these directly from the sites. An Internet search will provide you with a number of other sites but I will give these three honourable mention.

people.math.gatech.edu

openculture.com/free_textbooks

open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/

This last website has a large number of textbooks available for humanities, business, computer science, law, mathematics, social sciences, and education. Because these textbooks are published under a share alike licence then you will be able to get this information for free. These are actually high-quality textbooks written and used by universities but published on the Internet for free.

And finally the last thing I’d like to discuss is MOOCs. Which stands for massive open online courses. These courses are generally open to everyone and anyone who has access to the web and computer meets the basic requirements for enrolment there is no physical classroom and there is no limit to the size of students.

They are generally free however some providers do charge a small fee normally in exchange for a certificate of completion or other non-degree credit earned. Some do offer an academic course credit but the student normally has to be formally enrolled in the academic institution which gives the class.

Given that the classes online and anyone can sign up the coursework is generally self-paced so you can dive in at your own pace and at your own time. Unless the class is a scheduled event then you have to sign up to get some sort of grading or credit then there will typically be some sort of examination or a rough schedule for completion.

So one of the major providers is Coursera. But a great place to find a comprehensive listing is mooc.org which has a searchable database. Open Culture website also maintains a long list.

Although there is no requirement for you to take prerequisite course for any of these courses you might want to review pre-requisites before you jump in. This is because you may need some basic level of knowledge that you may or may not have.

If you’re interested in one of these courses things to do are:

  • Figure out your reason for taking it, e.g. do you need a certificate or not.
  • Determine if there is a pre-requisite required.

  • Confirm any technical requirements. Normally technical requirements is simply access to a web browser however some courses you may need special software in order to access or view the materials such as a PDF reader and while most computers or have the ability and the necessary software some computers with older operating systems may not be able to manage.
  • You will need to register with the course provider, typically this is just a name and email address but it may ask you for your academic history or relevant work experience.
  • You have to pay a fee if it’s applicable, and applied to the relevant academic institution if this course is for a credit.

When you sign up you definitely need to check out the course overview the platform and the course requirements before course actually starts if you don’t you may end up falling behind. Many of these courses also have forum discussions and you may find it useful to participate in discussions in order to get the most out of the materials.

Okay everyone, that is it for today. I hope that you found this information useful and that you’ll be able to find all the resources you need in order to self-study. Once again if you have any comments or feedback or questions please feel free to email me at: rick@autodidactic.info. You can also leave comments on the website about resources I didn’t mention.

Thank you once again for listening and I hope that you will join me next time. In the next podcast I will be discussing flashcard creation, and using the stolen moments of time in your day in order to help you progress. I will make some recommendations about space repetition software but will mainly focus on how to create useful flashcards whether they be on paper or electronic.

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