Sunday, August 04, 2013
It’s possible to learn how to do almost anything on the Internet, and, in fact, I’ve learned quite a few different things. Many of them have actually been really practical, too. Today I have another—along with some more serious opportunities.
Some three and a half years ago, I posted about learning how to fold a fitted sheet. It was a chore that frustrated me before I found the video. I learned the technique—basically—but I’m not exactly fanatical about getting it right (even if I do sometimes start over).
When we were in Paeroa last week, someone mentioned a challenge to learn one new thing on YouTube a week, and mentioned folding a t-shirt. I’d only recently learned the technique from the video above, so I shared what I’d learned. To be honest, it’s far easier to do than to fold a fitted sheet neatly every time. One tip: It’s usually better to make the middle point a little lower than halfway down the shirt so that the bottom of the shirt doesn’t show above the shoulders once it’s all folded.
There are far more serious learning opportunities on the Internet, too. My nephew recently posted on Facebook a link to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open Courseware (OCW), which “makes the materials used in the teaching of MIT's subjects available on the Web.” Best of all, it’s FREE. There are several universities in the world that are part of the OCW Consortium, which together offer some 13,000 courses in 20 languages.
Other interesting efforts include the development of textbooks that will be released as ebooks under Creative Commons licenses. The idea is that they will be cheaper for schools, instantly updatable and avoid the, er, um, difficulties associated with the fact that Texas determines the content for most primary and secondary school textbooks in the USA. In other words, the information won’t have to be run through an ideological filter first.
When you add this formal learning to the huge amount of informal learning opportunities (like the YouTube videos that taught me to fold fitted sheets and short-sleeve shirts), well, it’s amazing we don’t know everything, right?
Seriously, thanks to the Internet, it’s possible for us to learn so much more, and to be so much better informed, than was even remotely possible in previous generations. We can choose that whenever we want—and I think we should.
Remember that the next time someone tells you the Internet is all about porn, gambling, and photos of cats and people’s meals. You can tell them confidently, “No, you can also learn how to fold a shirt in under 2 seconds.” And then tell them how much they can really learn.