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By Brianna Wray
the Times 

TechTalk: Youtube University

“It is never too late to mend. Since it can never be too late To change your life, or else renew it, Let the unpleasant process wait Until you are compelled to do it. -Harry Graham from Perverted Proverbs: a Manual of Immorals for the Many


Despite the adage, you absolutely can teach an old dog new tricks. In fact, no matter what amount of formal education one has had, it is possible to continue learning on into senior age.

While the general consensus is that people who have long been used to doing things in a particular way will not abandon their habits, the opposite can be true. It’s beneficial to adopt the concept of continuing education as a lifestyle. The trick is, according to Harry Graham, the learner must be compelled to do so.

The question is, what do you want to learn? The clearer the goal, the simpler the path.

Potential learning outcomes can pave the way toward personalized curriculum design. Decide what category or categories the subject falls under: knowledge (memorization), comprehension (understanding), application, analysis (dissection), synthesis (creation), or evaluation (judgement).

With that in mind, consider the areas of knowledge that are important at different stages of life. Some things will obviously require formal education, but other practical and technical skills can be studied independently to great success.

Areas of Knowledge:

General studies

Dog training

Memory care, recollection

Food prep


Automotive mechanics

Bicycle repair


Arts & Sciences


Foreign Language

3d printing

Theater production


How the world works

Fiber arts (knitting, sewing, crochet, felting)

Business & Real Estate


Identify how you learn best. If you’re studying music, a portion of your educational intake will be audible. Depending on the subject matter, visual and auditory stimulation can be combined to reinforce understanding. Can you learn from lecture? Are there supplementary learning tools available?

Enter Youtube University, an ugly duckling learning tool with so much potential. Yes, Youtube is essentially the Wikipedia of the human experience: not all of it is accurate, but there is a lot of truth. Students, as in more formalized education situations, will use their best judgement to decide which information to carry. A great place to start is the Youtube channels run by legitimate colleges and universities.


MIT’s OpenCourseWare includes chemistry, black history, quantum physics, business planning, developmental economics, musical improvisation and teaching itself. They even have courses available on developing learning outcomes which is a great place to start a new foray into self guided learning.

European Graduate School Video Lectures

The European Graduate School offers lectures in the history of philosophy.

University of Oxford

Oxford has several channels including the Ashmolean university museum channel with artifacts from east to west, ancient to modern, another channel for business school, and the Oxford University Press channel hosts author talks, choral warmups, and lectures on history, religion, and philosophy.

University of Washington

Besides live cameras of the famous cherry blossoms on campus at UW, there are engineering lectures, psychology lectures, and BrainWorks, a series on the human brain hosted by bioengineering professor Eric Chudler.


Harvard’s Youtube channel is a resource for public health, poetry, and sciences from tension pistons, microrobots to kidney organoids.

Open Classrooms-EN

Open Classrooms-EN is a globally run learning resource that offers full courses in building websites with HTML and CSS, user experience design, project management, career development, and public speaking.

Kurzgesagt-In a Nutshell channel

The Kurzgesagt-In a Nutshell channel explains life and science with optimistic nihilism in a visually stimulating way, asking questions like Is organic really better? Or Is meat unhealthy? Or What if we all detonated nuclear bombs at once?

Kurzgesagt – German for “In a nutshell” is a Munich-based YouTube channel and design studio with a unique perspective on design, color and storytelling best known for its distinctive animation videos in the fields of science, space, technology, biology, history and philosophy.

Youtube Learning

The Youtube Learning channel curates educational videos from many sources across the platform into a few, easy to digest, playlists. See their series: How to Get Better at Anything, climate change, and the sun’s effect on skin.


CrashCourse is another independent education channel on Youtube. Nicole Sweeney teaches sociology, Carrie Anne Philbin teaches computer science, Craig Benzine teaches film history, and Mike Rugnetta teaches mythology.

They explain methods of safe internet sourcing in the Navigating Digital Information series that goes in depth on fact checking and lateral reading. There are also playlists on the history of science, engineering, statistics, theater and drama, world history, biology, ecology, and literature.

The Art Assignment

The Art Assignment’s channel is a weekly PBS Digital Studios production hosted by curator Sarah Urist Green. They study famous works of art, and enliven viewers by assigning compelling homework assignments.

If lifelong learning is the goal, how do you know when you’re finished? Youtube has no shortage of videos. As learning is self-paced, it can be easy to lose motivation. A good trick to avoid burnout is taking breaks. Decide what mastery or proficiency looks like at the beginning of your studies so there will be clear benchmarks on when to move on.

Go with the flow. When the commercial back-to-school season hits, ride that wave. Work on a few subjects until winter break. Then consider what you’ll study in spring. Coordinating your schedule seasonally, or with a local school can bring structure.

Tech Talk is an original technology column. Write to with questions, comments and tech struggles.


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