Professional Growth: How To Stay Ahead Of The Curve

The information you want and need is out there, and it’s most likely one little search query away.  So rather than ask the question, go out (or stay in!) and find your answer.

EI believe this philosophy to be more important now than ever before. Aside from just innate curiosity, the fact that many of us must wear multiple hats every day at work is a strong motivator. The only way to stay ahead, or even keep up, is to continually self-educate. The great news is that online searches are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting the information we want and need. We can’t always trust what we find in random searches, but lucky for us there is an even better solution: online educational resources.

There truly is a plethora of online courses, tutorials, forums, blogs, etc., that can help all of us increase our knowledge, skills and efficiency – something we strive for each and every day in this ever-changing and evolving industry.

I’ve put together a list of a few that I’ve found very useful, and I hope you will too. There’s a mix of more formal tutorial based sites, to informal blogs, and forums that have different focuses and subject matter.  Most of them are specific to digital marketing, design and development – but there are a few more broadly focused sites that I couldn’t help but add in. So whether you want to learn how to create a pivot table, resize a logo, build your own website, or get the latest info on Pigeon, I promise – there’s something in here for you.

  • Lynda.com – Has over 2,600 courses, ranging from web development, animation and video graphics to courses in business software, project management software, etc. I’ve always found Lynda to be the most organized, most foundational, and very easy to follow.
  • Skillshare.com – Great for quick “bite-size” learning. This global learning community offers courses ranging across multiple subjects including marketing, branding, design, technology and many more.
  • SlideShare.com – A slide hosting service. Users can upload files privately or publicly in the following file formats: PowerPoint, PDF, Keynote or OpenDocument presentations. Slide decks can then be viewed on the site itself, on hand held devices or embedded on other sites.
  • Code Academy – An interactive platform that offers free coding classes in six different programming languages like Python, PHP, jQuery, JavaScript, and Ruby, as well as markup languages including HTML and CSS.
  • Udemy – Provides a platform for experts of any kind to create courses which can be offered to the public, either at no charge or for a tuition fee.  Many courses focus on improving job-related skills, and some are more broad, i.e. guitar lessons, meditation and self-defense.
  • General Assembly – Offers full-time, part-time, online and on-demand courses including front-end web development, product management, user experience design, and more.
  • EdX (MOOC) – Offers online courses of various subject matters from universities all over the world – free of charge.
  • Coursera – Platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer over 400 courses online for anyone to take, for free. Broad academic subject matter.
  • Tuts+ – A creative focused site featuring over 300 easy to follow online video courses covering: code, illustration, photography, web design and more.
  • Codeschool – Code School teaches web technologies with video lessons, coding challenges, and screencasts.
  • Mashable – Real-time digital marketing news, information and resources focused on technology and social media.
  • Moz.com – Offers tips, tricks and advice for improving websites and doing better search, social and content marketing. Check out their Beginner’s Guide to SEO, Local Learning Center, Blog and Community.
  • Reddit.com – This entertainment and social networking site is filled with tidbits of information on pretty much any discipline imaginable. For example, a topic you might find on the webdev discussion board is “13 Image Tools and Apps for Designers & Developers”.
  • Search Engine Land – News and information about search engine marketing, optimization and how search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live.com and Ask.com work for searchers.
  • PPC Hero – Provides tips and techniques for successful pay per click digital advertising management.
  • Smashing Magazine – Delivers useful and innovative information to Web designers and developers. Their aim is to inform our readers about the latest trends and techniques in Web development.
  • Stack Overflow – A question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers.
  • And of course, let’s not forget the IMI Blog!

Please contribute any personal experiences with any of these sites – good or bad. And, please mention other noteworthy educational resources that you find helpful. Thanks!

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