Are You a Free Range Learner?


This past weekend I re-connected with a favorite past-time: doing nothing.  No obligations, meaning no school. For the past 10 weekends I’ve spent the better part of both days chained to online libraries and university software.

Happily, my first grad school class–and last, for now–is behind me. My whole body grins when I realize that 10 weeks of regimented nonsense–for a mere $6,600 of federal loan–is finished. In fact, I’m probably through with traditional learning models, especially those that provide zero self-gratification.

Well, except for the A in the class. I may have groused through the majority of 10 weeks but a commitment is a commitment.

Now it’s on to the open range

Now that I’ve decided to leave the traditional learning world behind, at least for now, I’m becoming a Free Range Learner.  Don’t know about free range learning? My friends LaDonna Coy and Raye Shilen (@coyenator and @RayeShilen) are wizards and are teaching me everything I know (which isn’t much at the moment!).

LaDonna and Raye describe free range learning this way:

Free Range Learning is a form of learning that is informal, dynamic, self-directed, observational, and social.  It isn’t new, just has new tools enabling more of it.  Free Range Learning puts (you) the learner in control of the educational process. You decide who to learn with or from, what to learn, when to learn it and where to learn. Social media (the social web) enables this kind of learning by providing endless people and content, and it’s always available from any Internet connected device. (Check out LaDonna’s blog post at Learning Chi for more information.)

In addition to flexibility, any learning I do needs to be fun. And help me eventually pay the bills. But mostly just fun.

That’s the way I want to live my life and grow my business–by having fun. Content marketing, the history of recovery advocacy, networked nonprofits–all three are areas where I feel passion to learn right now.

Do I care about fundraising? No, but that’s an area my sweetie finds passion and reward. See why free range learning is so cool?

But wait, there’s more!

When you decide to embrace the kind of learning that stokes your heart’s fire, you become truly present to your work. You get excited to interact with others. You become authentic. Stepping into your very own learning process–not one dictated by someone else–honors your imagination and your intellect.

Can you imagine waking up every day energized and jazzed to learn and grow and set the world on fire with your knowledge?  I can, especially now that the damn class is finished.

I think about free range learning this way: I get to mosey around in my own educational barnyard, plucking what I want from bookshelves, both real and virtual. Then I get to hop online and check in with like-minded people via social media.

It’s a sweet gig, and believe me, a whole lot better than 10 weeks of learning how to do academic research and write 20 different kinds of citations.

But that’s just me. Here’s to more weekends (and weekdays, for that matter!) of doing what you want to do!

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  1. LaDonna says:

    Hey Beth — Congrats on the A and working through the course. Isn’t it strange – how much we can learn and apply everyday? I can remember when I’d head for the library or later the book store, then there were college classes and when I finished the degree program I wasn’t sure what to do with my time LOL. Then there was workplace learning and now — free range is my favorite, its’ like lifelong learning with the whole world as my classroom.

    I love what I do, the freedom to learn what I want/need to learn and then create something with it — from blog posts to ebooks and products to workshops … its all such great fun!

    • Beth says:

      You are so right on, LaDonna, and I am forever grateful that you taught me this style of writing. Working with you and learning from you is pure joy. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family–let’s talk soon!

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