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Continuing Education from Your Home Office

You’ve got your business plan for 2013, have set some goals to grow, are hitting the ground running, but chances are you’ve neglected a very important area for growth. You. With all the demands of work and life, we tend to neglect the life side of the equation and even more often, ourselves.

One way to stretch your mind and expand your skills to breathe new life into work life is to include some form of more formal learning in your week. Simply put, take a class! Continuous learning may happen each day as you work, however, taking a break from the routine and immersing yourself in guided lessons can inspire and motivate you in new, even unexpected ways.

Don’t think you have time? Sure, the “old way” of taking classes involved regularly transporting yourself by car, bus or train to the nearest college once you enrolled and paid a hefty registration fee. But in this day and age, universities are bringing courses to your computer screen, and often for free, bridging the distance and providing valuable learning opportunities without putting a huge dent in your bank account.

Here are some online distance learning options you can access:

1. Coursera partners with top universities around the world to offer courses online you can attend, entirely for free. Classes include video lecture and instruction, quizzes and assignments. Class titles include An Introduction to Online Management, Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies and Introduction to Finance. Or stretch yourself beyond business with a humanities course such as Introduction to Philosophy.

2. University Open Learning Programs. You can tap directly into courses through individual universities including Carnegie Mellon, Yale, and UC Berkeley’s video and audio webcasts of classes. Most don’t require registration, won’t charge you a dime and you won’t get credits for them, but you will be able to access a wealth of lessons and lectures from top notch learning institutions.

3. Stanford University delivers courses via iTunes giving you access to an archive of audio and video content from programs across the university. Note that to access the archives, you’ll have to launch the iTunes app. If you don’t already have it, download it for free.

4. Khan Academy started out as long distance online video math lessons from the founder, Sal Khan, to a cousin. Now the extensive site offers not only math instruction but science, humanities, computer science and test prep. Their motto? “Learn almost anything for free.”

5. Lynda.com – While not a free option, these online courses are top notch and focus on software training in everything from Photoshop to Excel to WordPress. The site has also expanded to some business courses such as Leading Productive Meetings and Effective Public Speaking. Individual memberships start at $25 per month and give you unlimited access to over 1,500 video lessons you can watch on your own schedule. Lynda.com is also looking for qualified trainers. You can propose a topic that you’d be interested in teaching.

6. Udemy – Whether you’re looking for business courses such as Social Media Marketing for Startups or Business Planning for the Average Human or you want to learn photography tips, crafts, how to play electric guitar or master a new language, Udemy offers a variety of courses from experts in their field. Are you an expert in your field? You can also join the Udemy teaching staff for Teach 2013.

Bonus: Offering more of your own courses and training

If you’re looking to showcase your expertise, train your virtual team or even build a new revenue stream, why not share your knowledge by offering training sessions or courses online?

With Ruzuku, you can set up scheduled or on-demand courses and even add a shopping cart to charge registration fees if you choose. Take a look at some of inspiring courses set up through Ruzuku including The Art of Self-Care Primer and author Patti Digh’s Verbtribe. Two other online course-building and training platforms are Mindflash and Knoodle.

You can get inspired through learning or inspire others through teaching. And best of all, you can do it from the comfort of your home office.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user pinguino

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