I did a Masters in Computer Science about 10 years back. Since then I have been working mainly as an application developer in the Java ecosystem, and as a teacher and trainer (Java programming, software design, etc). As a software developer I feel it is necessary to keep up with new advancements in the field and also from time to time revisit old concepts. Very often an application developer does not work much on core concepts which were taught in undergrad as well as grad school. It bothers me that my knowledge of core subjects is becoming rusty.
Over the past few years I have identified some topics which are important to my work and which I should learn. Some examples are advancements in web technology, social networking, understanding of web security, and issues related to scaling. We are also entering an era where knowing just one programming language is not enough. It is becoming increasingly important to be a polyglot programmer. Hence I wish to at least have a basic understanding of multiple languages and programming paradigms.
I wish to set up a micro enterprise (as a lifestyle business). I feel that I need to learn a few non technical topics related to managing a micro business, and managing learning communities.
I wish to undertake a study program where I can fulfill all the above needs, in an organized way, and also be able to present proof of my knowledge and learning. Going to a traditional institute may not give me the flexibility of courses and time, which I desire.
In the past few years, several technical advances such as access to high speed Internet, read-write web, social networking, open courseware, free access to learning material in all forms such as video, audio, text on the Internet, web conferencing, high quality forums, etc, have made what I call DIY social learning possible. Hence this time around, instead of going to a traditional institute, I would like to study on my own, in an organized way, using principles of social learning.
I also feel if social DIY learning were acceptable, many students who do not have the means to attend an educational institution will benefit from being able to learn what is important to them, at their own pace, and without spending a fortune. I would like this to be an experiment in DIY social learning. I will document not only my technical learnings, but also what I learn about the mechanism I have chosen to learn.
For all these reasons, I have decided to organize my learning needs as a DIY, social learning plan.