I am an advocate for self-directed learning. You can learn anything you want on the internet, cheaply and quickly.

There is no shortage of online courses and teachers – from self-paced to cohort-based live programs, $5 courses on Udemy to $1000 courses on Maven.

But self-education is hard. It requires determination and a passion for learning. Many students struggle with upskilling online, especially after finishing their college degrees.

I have signed up for many online courses; finished some, did not even begin a few and some are still in progress.

When I look at where I spend my time, there are plenty of empty hours to fill but after starting my full-time job, I could not make time for learning (and a lot of other things I would enjoy). Funnily, my job is in education and designing courses.

While I like learning on Youtube and Udemy, I have come to appreciate the benefits of studying in a structured learning environment and the hard work that goes into running courses.

Even though I say I don’t use anything I learned in university directly, it’s a false statement. I learned a lot of things that can’t be quantified – making friends, working in groups, managing deadlines, exposure to new industries, and a lot of unique courses that I’m not using in my work but have added value to my life or understanding of the world.

2020 – Learning Social Innovation

When the lockdowns started in 2020, I was looking at opportunities everywhere and things that I could do online. I had my eyes on the Social Innovation Management program in 2018 and when the program went online in 2020, I applied.

I got accepted with a scholarship, but I chose to decline the offer.

Why? I felt if I have to do it all online, why don’t I just plan my curriculum, find free or cheaper alternative courses online, talk to mentors and experts via LinkedIn and do it all on my own?

To be honest, the main reason was I didn’t want to pay the high fees for studying online when I could do many others courses for the same price.

But I still decided to go ahead and do it on my own. I made a brief plan and decided to invest 50% of the course fees for any other personal and professional development courses.

Well, I did nothing of that sort. Life took over. Other things became important and I forgot about this program and my plan.

2022 – Joining Amani Institute

4 years after finishing my bachelor’s degree, I felt like doing another structured learning course, offline.

I had performed quite well in university and not so well in most of my online courses.

I still wanted to learn about social innovation and when I heard Amani Institute is launching their Hybrid version again with 3 months online and then 3 months in Kenya, I instantly reapplied.

The course curriculum is super interesting. I love the structure. It’s flexible and only 2 days a week. I can continue my full-time job. I get to live in a new country for 3 months and make new friends. It’s all learning by doing and no tests or exams. I will finish the program with a social innovation of my own.

It’s also a great tester to find out if I’d want to pursue a full-fledged master’s program in the future.

Bio Empathy Class at Camp Carnelly’s

Now – Arrival in Kenya

I’m in the fourth month of the program and arrived in Kenya one week ago for the Immersion Phase. My fellow cohort students are from all over the world, from diverse backgrounds, and are really amazing people.

We went on a 3-day class trip last week for our bio-empathy course.

I’m loving the physical connection with the teachers and being in a classroom again. The deadlines and reminders help with getting things done. And I’m learning relevant skills that will help me in my work. Win-Win.

Stay tuned for my future posts where I share my learnings.

  • Post author: