Learning by doing is best

The best way of learning anything is by doing. I’ve known this ever since I tried and failed to start a business selling Christmas trees, making mistakes and picking up learnings that helped me improve the next time, and time and time again. Having started hundreds of businesses since, and learned thousands of new skills, I’m still learning by doing every day.

There is no better example of this than spending time with my grandchildren. While they are learning by doing at an amazing pace every day – from walking to talking – I am also learning as I brush up on my grand-dude duties. Another great example is how new generations, young and old, are improving their technology skills (including yours truly, who will be posting this blog everywhere from Twitter to LinkedIn) by being practical and giving it a go.

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Millions of people every year are learning by doing using Codecademy. Over the last six years, Codecademy has become one of the largest vocational learning platforms in the world and allows millions of people every year to learn to code for free. As they look to grow even further, I’m delighted to be an investor in the business.

Technology has an increasing influence on most industries and the already acute shortage of workers with software development skills is likely to grow. In the US alone, the number of available computing-related jobs will exceed the number of computer science students by a million. Digital skills and understanding are becoming increasingly attractive skills for employers to hire.

Richard Branson Virgin Media Manchester computer

I don’t believe that the traditional model of education, which appears broken in many ways, can fill the shortage of skilled labour anytime soon. The traditional model requires years of time commitment, attending potentially dull lectures and limited flexibility with regards to the topics learned. Additionally many students carry a debilitating burden in the form of student debt with them for years. You may be surprised to learn that alternative ways of learning to code often unlock earning potential similar to and even higher than top universities at a fraction of the cost and time.

Codecademy is part of the unbundling of education, allowing users to learn by doing, access lessons anytime, from anywhere, at the pace they like. Engaged users even have the opportunity to go from “Zero to Job” by starting with micro-employment via the site, helping other students to learn to code whilst constantly developing their own skills through teaching.

Life Stories: how Tommy Nicholas transformed his career with Codecademy

To make coding skills even more accessible Codecademy is partnering with organisations in different countries that help translate their lessons to local languages. This will give the hopefully increasing number of people that have access to the internet an opportunity to develop meaningful and applicable skills to be part of a quickly growing digital economy. When it comes to coding – like everything else – learning by doing is best.

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