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Erik Trautman

Technical entrepreneurship, business strategy and product development

The Quandary of Self Education (Part II)

What is the most effective way to learn? I figured out that just absorbing static knowledge is a terrible approach because I can't prioritize lessons properly and it doesn't make optimal use of my time. That means that I need to combine the best elements of the in-classroom social experience with the flexibility of personal education. As I stated before in Part I, my user case is:

I want a low cost way to leverage the brightest professors in the world through a self-directed but vetted curriculum and to reinforce my learning by using a community of real people combined with personal projects for skills validation.
Luckily, my need is not unique and has been recognized by a variety of institutions. The ability to disrupt traditional delivery channels is a specialty of the Internet, and this is certainly true here as well. Online, typically for-profit, universities (like the University of Phoenix) are certainly nothing new, but they haven't exactly been top tier bastions of academic rigor. A handful of startups are looking to address the shortfall in quality by partnering with top-tier universities who have recognized the seismic shift in traditional educational methodologies towards serving cost-sensitive and geographically-dispersed individuals.

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The Quandary of Self Education (Part I)



I am trying to be Neo from the Matrix. There are thousands of hours of knowledge that I need to cram into my brain as quickly and effectively as possible. Unfortunately, that nifty little upload socket didn't seem to make it into my hardware version so does that mean I need to do it all the old fashioned way?

Pretty much all the learning in my life so far has been through either a top-down approach (teacher teaches to students) or the Socratic method (teacher leads discussion and debate), the former for technical subjects like engineering and the latter for more creative subjects like English. The top down approach from college looked like this:

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The Curriculum

Being an entrepreneur requires wearing a lot of hats. Luckily, all the skills involved are things that I'm highly interested in learning. At this point, I've got a "$@#% I Need To Learn" list on my whiteboard (yes, I'm a bit obsessive about whiteboards) and figured I'd share it. I've previously referenced my next few months as an attempt to get an "MBA with a CS Minor""¦ so I've made the beginnings of a curriculum.
Disclaimer: this is absolutely a work in progress

Three major skill areas dominate in the creation of a startup:

1. Product Design
2. Product Development
3. Business Development

I may not be categorizing everything exactly according to traditional lines and a lot of it overlaps but I don't think anyone's going to get hurt for the difference. Obviously, these are focused more on the skills necessary to start a web-based tech company. The way I see it, to be a successful entrepreneur you should be able to establish a competitive business framework, build a high quality product and give that product life with strong design.

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