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12 Innovative Ways To Learn More (No College Required)

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by DJ Saul


As the Web rapidly transforms the way we consume knowledge, here’s a quick look at some of the innovative tools, programs, and startups that are rapidly changing how we learn.


Code The Next Facebook

“Many public-school children seem to know only two dates — 1492 and 4th of July; and as a rule they don’t know what happened on either occasion.”  — Mark Twain


Startup technologists are the new rock stars to be emulated, which means learning how to write code is finding its way into the changing educational ecosystem more and more.


  • The Academy of Software Engineering: NYC’s newest move to become a stronghold of young technical talent is slated to deliver cutting edge curriculum for students focusing on software engineering, design, and technology.
  • Code Now: This program is quickly gaining traction as it aims to develop the next generation of disruptive technologists, focusing on foundational computer science skills for underrepresented high school students.
  • Codecademy: Learn to write code online and at your own pace, through a series of interactive tutorials and lessons.
  • Hungry Academy: In a recruiting masterstroke, Living Social will take you from “0” to “10101…” during a rigorous five-month program (upon signing a commitment to work for — and get paid by — Living Social, that is).


Build A Company

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain


Upon graduating high school, my parents presented me with an option:  either go to college, or use the money they had saved up to do something else (start a business, travel the world, learn to fly helicopters, etc).  I went to college. You don’t have to.*


  • E[nstitute]: This 2-year apprenticeship program is set out to provide a legitimate alternative for traditional higher education by turning startups and small businesses across New York City into classrooms.
  • Thiel Fellowship: Two years + $100,000 + mentorship and connections with some of the heaviest hitters in Silicon Valley = a high probability of success.
  • EverFi: This startup focuses on delivering the critical life skill of financial literacy through a series of interactive courses and games… and it’s 100% free for K-12 schools.


Become a Modern-Day Know-It-All and Handyman

“It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others — and less trouble.”  – Mark Twain


Finally, the tools for servicing the largest market segment yet: the rest of us, who just want to stay sharp or learn something new, no matter what age.


  • Skillshare: The ultimate peer-to-peer experiential learning platform. Learn (and teach!) how to do everything from writing code to hanging a shelf properly in your house.
  • Udemy: “The Academy of You.” Quite simply, this platform allows you to take and build online courses on just about anything.
  • Khan Academy: The groundbreaking platform for alternative online learning. With a vast aray of bite-sized YouTube videos, Khan boils down everything from art history to the Paulson Bailout.
  • Udacity: After his CS221 class went viral, Google Fellow Sebastian Thrun of Stanford launched a platform that combines the direct instruction of Khan Academy with the interactivity of Codecademy.
  • MITx: In the Fall of 2012 MIT will offer a variety of its courses for free online. Sound like MIT OpenCourseWare? It’s not. It features interactive instruction, online labs, and individualized assessment, giving anyone the ability to earn certificates from MITx.


*Note: I had an awesome time in college.


DJ Saul is the founder of Colonial Entrepreneurs, a network of young entrepreneurs focused on web technology. DJ now heads up the Sandbox Network in DC, in addition to his duties as the CMO at iStrategyLabs, where he lead the creation of their first product, Grandstand and works on Social Machines, hacking physical objects with social data.


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