By Jesse Clark

The internet, as we know it today, made its debut in 1991, when a computer programmer named Tim Berners-Lee popularized the world wide web by showing it was a network of information accessible to anyone online. While the internet has changed significantly since then, the reason why we use it remains the same: it’s helpful for learning new things. Some findings indicate this is especially true for first-time internet users, as it provides an entirely new way to retrieve information, seek entertainment, and stay connected with family and friends. Despite its world of possibilities, however, Pew Research Center surveys show that people who don’t use the internet usually shy away because they don’t want or need the technology.

Don’t let this be you! There are several fun new skills you can learn online, and this is something you can do either by yourself (feel free to explore Lifelong Learning Education's database of online courses) or with a group of friends. Here are four benefits to using the web.

Crossing an Item Off Your Bucket List

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to play a musical instrument, visit a French museum, or paint a masterpiece to hang over the fireplace mantle, the internet can help make your dreams come true. There are countless online resources for helping you cross just about any item off your bucket list if you know where to look.

For example, if you’ve always wanted to learn to play the cello, you can find online music lessons from a virtual instructor or via a free site like YouTube. Are you dying to visit the Louvre Museum, but don’t have the funds set aside to visit Paris? Take one of their free virtual tours. Have you dreamed of letting your artistic talents blossom? Try an online art lesson, and find the medium that makes you shine.

Social Networking

If you’re only used to seeing people when you’re running errands or making plans by phone, social networking sites are going to change a lot for you. According to statistics, Facebook is considered the top social networking site with more than one billion active users daily. By joining, it connects you with practically everyone you know or used to know (as long as they have an account) and allows you to set up groups. It’s also another way to learn about events happening near you, see photos of your loved ones, play games, and even buy or sell items.

Extra Income

If you’re looking to earn some more money, go online to get the skills. One career path worth considering is working a part-time job as a real estate agent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for a real estate agent in 2019 was around $24 an hour. Commissions are also lucrative depending on the homes you sell, and you can set your own hours or even turn your role into a full-time job. To learn more about licensing requirements and accredited pre-licensing institutions, visit your state real estate commission’s website.

Another career path you may wish to embark upon is Information Technology. If you decide to pursue this passion, you can enroll in an online program that can be completed without any significant interruptions to your daily routine. For example, many programs, such as the one offered through WGU, doesn't require a specific class login time and doesn't attach due dates to assignments, making the work fit your lifestyle instead of the reverse. An IT degree will allow you to explore your passion, boost your resume, and open up new opportunities in your current (or new!) career when you're ready for a change.

Research and Marketing

The internet is an endless web of information, and knowing how to find resources you can trust is an invaluable skill. Business Insider recommends 43 websites for learning. Whether you want to know how to eat healthier or build a customer base, doing the proper research online is key.

If you want to promote a service or product or get more people to show up for those monthly community meetings, take time to explore online marketing, particularly through the lens of social media. It’s evident that Facebook and other social networking sites can provide an element of entertainment to our lives, but that’s not all they can do. Learning how to navigate the features of these websites and using them to your advantage professionally is also what makes it a skill. By using specific sites and creating a strategy unique to your goals, it is a guaranteed way to be able to connect with your target audience and effectively promote your product or service.

The Takeaway

While surveys show that online users are more likely to be younger, it doesn’t mean you can’t see what’s out there. The internet is simply a tool to enhance your learning and awareness. It will allow you to discover new skills, find recent stories, and connect with the ones you love most.

Nutrition, stress management, and emergency preparedness are just a few of the many topics you can explore when you take an online course with Lifelong Learning Education.

Photo credit: