In order to keep thinking sharp, the brain must be exercised on a regular basis. Yet many of the modern conveniences that make life easier also cause general problem-solving skills to get rustier. Active and curious minds can help the elderly advance in age with more faculties in tact. The importance of staying engaged in life cannot be overstated, nor can the long-range benefits of continuous learning be. Thankfully, the modern gadgets that may have helped the brain go fuzzy now offer loads of opportunities to sharpen those old thought processes once again. Anyone with a home computer, access to a public computer, or owners of smartphones can find numerous ways to get smarter.
Ranging from absolutely free to incredibly spendy, cyber learning can be both fun and beneficial, whether seeking certifications or wanting to advance one's traditional university education. The best part? Some programmes are so engaging that it might not feel like much work at all.
Accredited online university courses have long been popular in the US, particularly for working professionals seeking flexible scheduling. Courses have standardized testing and monitoring by professors. Class selection is still not as varied as with the brick and mortar schools, but many US students can earn degrees on up to the Master's level, as well as special certifications, if needed.
According to the BBC, the UK is also launching a big push into the arena of online education, with some courses free of cost. At the start, 21 universities in the UK are participating, including Nottingham, Bristol, Southampton, Reading, Leeds, and more. Be sure to put as much care into choosing online courses as into traditional schooling to ensure the best education possible.
Mobile and laptop users can download any number of brain strengthening apps like crossword puzzles, memory games and strategy-enhancing past-times such as chess and mahjong. There are also a number of websites out there that provide free or low-cost educations for all. One that has been getting quite a bit of press is the Khan Academy, a not-for-profit organisation that provides free educations for anyone who is interested. Including many levels of Math, Science and Humanities, Khan also features computer programming and business classes.
Don't forget the value of some video games as well. Not only do they build hand-eye coordination, many require extensive problem-solving skills.
Whether online classes are successful or not will largely depend on the quality of the teachers providing the lessons, as well as how each student learns best and retains the information. Take music tutorials—some students may be able to get all they need from videos, whereas others may need one-on-one assistance in a private lesson. Still, whether one becomes a virtuoso or not, the mere attempt of trying to understand music should help students' minds to become expanded.
Games that teach math and science aren't all all that's out there. Trip Hawkins [founder of Madden NFL] has joined counselors and programmers to devise an iPad game that teaches empathy. Though originally intended for children to help work through difficult emotions, these types of games may be more widely accessible to users of all ages, if proven successful.
Modern gadgets need not rob users of their analytical abilities. With the right games and courses at hand, people can keep learning and even advance formal educations, if so desired. What's even more exciting is the chance to do so without needing to pay for the opportunity. With so many brilliant minds wanting to share knowledge, there seems to be no limit to what a person can learn online.