Learn skills to solve the education crisis and get hired in 9 months [Full Guide + PDF]

Brandon Stover
Brandon Stover
Founder of Plato University
May 31, 2022
·
35
min read

Education is the most important problem anyone could focus on to make an impact on the world. (More on that in a moment.)

This learning guide has the exact steps that you should take if you want to learn the in-demand skills that employers want in 2022 and actually help to solve the education crisis.

It will teach you everything you need to know to get up to speed on the education field including concepts like skills like Course Creation, Learning Experience Design, Online Teaching, Remote Learning, Education Technology, and more.

If you're a complete beginner, have never taught anyone, or you're curious about this industry, then this post is for you.

If you're an established educator, you will also find some useful links in here as I list the best free resources to level-up your skills and get cutting edge jobs in the education field.

If you find this post too long, skip over and start from the Step by Step Learning Guide section. You’ll hurt my feelings… so know that you'll have to live with that guilt.

Ok, you’re still here. Great! I like you already. Let’s keep going…

Using only free online courses, tutorials, and tools, you can gain a valuable skill that will allow you to be employed in a great industry that is rewarding, challenging, and that is changing the world we live in.

The best part? You don’t need a college degree or an expensive bootcamp. And you definitely don't need to give away part of your income once you get hired, which some new schools are doing via something called an ISA (Income Sharing Agreement). This sounds great until you have to start giving away some of your paychecks.

Important note: This post may seem like it's just a step-by-step guide of what to do to become an educator. But if you look more closely, it's also a strategy you can apply to any sort of learning.

Also... no pressure, but I don't want you getting mad at me for not telling you that if you want a downloadable version, you can sign up below and I'll email you a full PDF version of this guide that includes the month-by-month checklist!

Download PDF Guide (With Checklist) For Free

No pressure, but I don't want you getting mad at me for not telling you that if you want a downloadable version, you can click the button below to sign up on Plato University and get access to PDF version of this guide that includes the month by month checklist!

Sign Up

Why Learn About Education?

We think the most crucial question you face in choosing an impactful career is which problem or issue to focus on — whether that’s health, education, climate change, poverty, or something else.

Every decision that will require a significant time of your life should be justified. Time, after all, is the most important resource we have.

So then why focus on education? 

We believe at Plato University that education is the foundation to all other problems in our world. If we solve the problems in the education system, we can prepare students with the skills they need to solve all other global problems. So education of each individual becomes the primary intervention in addressing the complex systems of our world.

In Ray Dalio’s Principles for Dealing with The Changing World Order, he describes the cycles that powerful nations go through to become world leaders that experience innovation, peace, and prosperity. If you look at the image below, you will see that raising the quality of education is one of the first 3 things needed for this to occur, right after strong leadership and inventiveness. Know a factor that leads to the decline of a powerful nation? They stop investing in education.

From Ray Dalio's Principles for Dealing with The Changing World Order

The way we educate ourselves and our society has a tremendous impact on the world we live in. Zoe Weil, founder of the Institute for Humane Education, describes in here TEDx Talk that we need to “we provide every student with the knowledge, the tools, and the motivation to be conscientious choice-makers and engaged change-makers for a restored and healthy and humane world for all.”

So if you are concerned about climate change, poverty, healthcare, social justice, and many of the other problems our world faces but feel there is no way you could solve all of them, then you may want to focus on education.

Still with me? I haven’t scared you off? Ok, we shall keep going then…

IMPORTANT POINT. READ IT: The first 2 months will feel like you are climbing an insurmountable mountain. Every tutorial, course or lesson you do will make you feel like you are the only person in the world that doesn’t know this stuff.

This is called Impostor Syndrome. The feeling of complete self-doubt.

Stay strong. You will get there and you will have more and more ‘AHA!’ moments as time progresses. Rest assured, we all feel this way when we learn something new. This is good. This is how you know you are stretching your boundaries. It's kind of like doing a really tough workout and your muscles are sore for the next couple days. You know you're pushing yourself and growing when you feel uncomfortable.

What you will learn at the end of this is that being a master in a skill isn’t just memorizing a whole bunch of facts. It’s about learning how to solve problems using all of the tools that are available to you. It’s about being a problem solver and getting from a state of not knowing, to knowing. This guide will help you get those skills.

Finally, just as this problem keeps evolving, this learning plan will also constantly evolve and be updated with new lectures and resources as well so that you can stay on the cutting edge.

Who is this learning guide for?

  • Current educators, regardless of skill level, who want to level up their skills for the future and be on the cutting edge of education.
  • Early career starters who want to get into mission driven edtech companies in exciting new roles like learning coaches, learning experience designers, or course creators.
  • Passionate people who want to create solutions in education but don’t know where to start understanding the problem and skills need to build solutions.

Who are you and why should I listen to you?

Wow, you’re direct, but I guess that’s a fair question.

First off, I’m the Founder of Plato University, where you can get a personalized education built around your passions, highly in-demand, real world skills, and the impact you want to make.

Being a poor kid from the trailer park living in a broken home, I know the power of education to transform one's life. But after chasing education's promise of a golden ticket, I graduated with a degree in a career I was not passionate about or felt would make a real difference in the world. Ultimately I felt I had no meaning, impact, or sense of purpose in his life.

Since then, I’ve surrounded myself with and learned from dozens of social entrepreneurs making a difference in the world, built half a decade of experience as a designer, marketer, and educator for mission driven companies, and built educational programs that have reached over 80,000 people.

But like you I started from zero. From nothing. Yes I had some formal college education, but that was in architecture. The other skills I have built have come from thousands of hours of self-taught, self directed learning.

So yes, I have been where you are and I know what it takes. When I was getting started, I wished there was something like this that outlined things for me step by step. Now, I've become obsessed with the art of learning and helping you master skills you can apply in the real world. I want to teach skills that you can use to create real change, solve major global issues, and find real fulfillment in your life/

What Skills Are We Going to Learn?

Below are the skillsets we believe you need to be successful in addressing the education problem and are highly sought after by employers.

  • Science of Learning
  • Biology of Learning
  • Active Learning
  • Pedagogy
  • Instructional Design
  • Online Course Creation
  • Teaching
  • Remote Learning
  • Managing Learning Environments
  • Coaching
  • Creating Learning Plans
  • Online Learning Design
  • User Experience Design
  • Community Building
  • Education Technology
  • Learning Management Systems
  • Classroom Technologies
  • Educational Leadership
  • Founding an Education Startup

What jobs could I get?

Speaking of jobs, are you curious what kind of jobs you could get with these skills? With the rise in online learning and education technology, there are a variety of in-demand roles available for educators and those passionate about education.

Roles in Education Startups:

  • Instructional Designer: Can also be known as a Curriculum Designer or Online Course Creator, Instructional designers are paramount in the process of learning. They are tasked with redesigning courses, developing entire courses or curriculums and creating training materials, such as teaching manuals and student guides.
  • Online Teacher or Facilitator: Online teaching is the process of educating others on virtual platforms. This type of teaching involves engaging learners in live classes, video conferencing, webinars, and other online tools. The online applications are developed and designed to facilitate easy learning and better understanding.
  • Learning Coach: Learning coaches are one of the most sought-after positions for experienced educators. Coaches support learners in 1:1 and small group environments, create personalized foundations for students using goal setting, character building, progress documentation, and so much more. As a coach you will enable students from all over the world to discover their purpose and pursue their interests.
  • Learning Experience Designer: Learning experience designers create learning experiences that enable the learner to achieve the desired learning outcome in a human-centered and goal oriented way. Learning experience design is rooted in a combination of several design disciplines combined with elements of education, training and development , cognitive psychology, experiential learning, educational sciences and neuroscience.
  • Learning Community Manager: Learning community managers keep the party alive in online learning communities, with the key objective of boosting learner engagement and creating a better learning experience.  They focus on drumming up engagement on learning platforms, encouraging the creation of user generated content and driving learners to content such as online courses, webinars and podcasts.
  • Subject Matter Expert: A subject matter expert is an individual with a deep understanding of a particular topic or domain of knowledge. They work together with instructional designers, course creators, and learning experience designers to transfer their expertise into learning materials.
  • Chief Academic Officer: The chief academic officer oversees a school’s or university’s educational program, including working to recruit students and provide the best academic experience possible, while meeting long-term financial goals. Other traditional roles using similar skill sets may be Deans, Provosts and Presidents, although these are not typically found in education startups.

How to Use this Learning Guide

Everything at Plato University is based on Mastery. For this reason we design all of our courses into bite sized chunks that build on each other. You master each small chunk by applying what you have learned before moving on to the next. By the end of the course you will have mastered the entire skill and created something to show for it.

However, we believe that there is a ton of great content out there on various subjects. Although we would like to have original courses on all material, it’s just not possible. Nor are we always the best ones to teach something. This is why we create learning plans, scaffold pathways for you to navigate learning materials to master skills.

So in order to extend the concept of mastery to these learning resources we can’t control, we recommend approaching them in this way for the most optimal learning:

  • Before you get started with any of these learning resources, make sure you take our How to Learn Anything course which will teach you the science based tools of pro learners to become smarter, remember more, and master any hard skills. This will ensure you are truly learning instead of just using your short-term memory.
  • Create a learning habit, where you learn at least 20-30 minutes of original content everyday and then spend up to 60 minutes applying the skill. This makes learning manageable and easy to fit in your schedule. But you’ll also realize it improves the quality of your learning.
  • This learning plan is intensive. If you want to finish in 9 months, we recommend treating it like actually going to school part-time. So take multiple classes or learning resources at once. However, don't feel obligated to finish that quickly. It’s more important to comprehend what your learning, taking the time to do so, rather than how quickly you get through the plan.
  • Always learn, then apply. We are not here to just take in knowledge. We are here to make real change in our lives. This only happens if you apply what you learn.
  • Only learn what you’re interested in. There is no exam. No one tells you what you have to learn. If you’re only interested in one skill set, then learn that part, skip the rest. If you want to master every skill, then follow this learning plan in its entirety.

Download PDF Guide (With Checklist) For Free

No pressure, but I don't want you getting mad at me for not telling you that if you want a downloadable version, you can click the button below to sign up on Plato University and get access to PDF version of this guide that includes the month by month checklist!

Sign Up

Step by Step Learning Guide

We will be focusing on the most usable and in-demand skills that education startups and employers want in 2022. Time is important to you and you want to be building as soon as possible and learn the most modern skills.

Before you get started with any of these learning resources, make sure you take our How to Learn Anything course which will teach you the science based tools of pro learners to become smarter, remember more, and master any hard skills. This will ensure you are truly learning instead of just using your short-term memory.

(Yes I just repeated that advice from the last section. Why? Because it's important!)

Month 1: Primer on the Education Crisis

Before we can solve any problem, we must fully understand it. So our first month will be spent studying the problem and the various solutions others are creating to solve the problem. Doing this exploration is an opportunity to decide if this is a problem you feel compelled to solve. 

If you start diving into the material below and feel like you're on the edge of your seat and getting lost in hours of research, that is a good sign this is the problem for you. But if you find you can’t even muster the energy to look at another resource, then maybe there's another problem that you would better be motivated to solve.

Below is a brief starting point for your exploration. This list is far from exhaustive. Instead use it to start sparking your own curiosity and then find your own resources to further your understanding.

Learning Resources:

Month 2: How to Use the Science of Learning

Learn the pedagogy and learning techniques backed by neuroscience, cognitive psychology, biology, and learning sciences to actually help learners gain, retain, and apply knowledge. Discover how to create engaging online learning, rather than passive recordings or online lectures.

Skills to Master:

Science of Learning: 

  1. Take our How to Learn Anything course which compiles 18 scientifically proven techniques, from dozens of studies, to help you (or your students) learn anything faster and more effectively. 
  2. If you want to further, these techniques have also been covered by the Learning Scientists, and Barbra Oakley in her famous Learning How to Learn MOOC course or her book.

Biology of Learning: 

  1. Understand how our biology affects our learning from neuroscientist Andrew Huberman in this talk about his Neuroplasticity Super-Protocol

Active Learning:

  1. First use this quick 2 minute video to understand what Active Learning is. 
  2. Then understand how to apply if from psychologist & neuroscientist Stephen Kosslyn in this webinar and his book Active Learning Online
  3. Expand your understanding of teaching with Barbora Oakely’s book and course on Uncommon Sense Teaching.
  4. See examples, activities, and further research on how active learning is applied from the resources at University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University.

Pedagogy: 

  1. Study 25 of the leading learning methodologies (be sure to check out their extra resources).
  2. Then dive into the “Learning & Development” and “Learning Theories” sections of this knowledge hub in order to understand the pedagogies being used in today’s cutting edge learning environments.
  3. We strongly believe in Mastery Based Learning at Plato University. Learn what Mastery Based Learning is from Khan Academy and the Department of Education.

Month 3: How to Create Online Courses (Instructional Design)

Learn to create successful and inspiring online courses by applying tested strategies and understanding the models, tools and techniques for designing courses.

Skills to Master:

Instructional Design

  1. Start by familiarizing yourself with Instructional Design by going through some of the short videos in this Instructional Design 101 playlist and eLearning 101 playlist.
  2. Then take the courses in this MicroMastersProgram in Instructional Design and Technology from edX which will walk you through theories, models, tools and project for your portfolio. Remember, you can click through to each course and enroll for free by “auditing” them.

Online Courses

  1. Learn how to start developing online courses in this Online Course Series and Online Course Tips playlist, both from Thinkific.
  2. Learn how to create effective instructional videos with this free course on Video Based Learning.
  3. Finally, take the first two courses in this professional certification from edX. You can also learn a lot about building MOOC style courses with their Course Creator Plus courses. Remember, you can click through to each course and enroll for free by “auditing” them.

Month 4: How to Teach Online (Online Facilitator or Teacher)

Learn the best practices in teaching and facilitating online learning experiences. If you have ever felt overwhelmed by Zoom or wondered if your learners are actually engaged this plan will help you gain the skills and confidence you need to engage even the youngest learners virtually.

Skills to Master:

Teaching: 

  1. My guess is if you are interested in education, you have at least some experience teaching, whether formal or informal. But if you don’t or want to tighten up your skills, spend some time taking the Foundations of Teaching from Commonwealth Education. Remember, you can click through to each course and enroll for free by “auditing” them. 

Remote Learning:

  1. While many of the foundations of teaching and learning will cross over to online, the techniques and ways learning is facilitated are quite different. So if you have never done online teaching, let's start with Remote Learning 101 from Khan Academy.
  2. Now begin learning how to deliver high quality remote teaching with over a dozen techniques and hundreds of real school or learning community examples from this Transcend Curated Collection on Remote Learning.
  3. Learn from the experience of other online teachers sharing their tips in this playlist and this youtube channel.

Learning Environments:

  1. Take this course from Barbra Oakley which weaves late-breaking insights from neuroscience with personal insights from the classroom to provide unexpected, yet practical, new approaches to managing learning environments.
  2. Take course 3 in this professional certification from edX. 
  3. Once you have spent time mastering the above skills in teaching and remote learning, then spend time diving into the thousands of examples in the “Learn”, “See”, & “Explore” tabs on the Learning Accelerator. These will show you real schools that implement these techniques and a breakdown of how they are doing them.

Month 5: How to Coach Students and Learners (Learning Coach)

Discover how to support learners in 1:1 and small group environments. Learn to create a personalized foundation for students using goal setting, character building, progress documentation, and so much more. As a coach you will enable students from all over the world to discover their purpose and pursue their interests.

Skills to Master:

Coaching: 

  1. First understand the difference between an Online Teacher & a Learning Coach and how they are each supporting learner goals.
  2. Learning coaches are fairly new roles that have been created to support learners online. This means that most learning coaches come from a background of teaching and additionally learn coaching skills. I recommend you start learning coaching fundamentals by watching coaching demonstrations from master coaches, learn some basics of life coaching, and discover the power of asking questions.
  3. Most coaches go through some type of certification program and there are dozens out there. However one specific to learning coaches for edtech is done by GalileoXP.

Creating Learning Plans:

  1. Learn how to create personalized learning plans and guide students through proficiency-based learning from the Vermont Agency of Education.

Month 6: How to Create Engaging Learning Experiences (Learning Experience Designer)

Bring together a combination of several design disciplines combined with elements of education, training and development , cognitive psychology, experiential learning, educational sciences and neuroscience to create the best in class learning experiences.

Skills to Master:

Online Learning Design: 

  1. Get started with these fundamentals of LXD.
  2. Then go through the experience of creating a plan for a learning experience with free certified course from NovoEd.
  3. Learn about several different models of blended learning and how to create an ideal learning experience in the Blended Learning: Personalizing Education for Students course.
  4. Finally, bring all these skills together in the Online Learning Design for Educators Specialization from Macquarie School of Education. Remember, you can click through to each course and enroll for free by “auditing” them.

User Experience Design:

  1. A significant portion of LXD involves user experience design and design thinking. For this reason, it is important to learn these skills as well. I would recommend going through courses 1, 2 & 4 of this Google UX Design Professional Certificate to learn the UX skills that would apply to learning. If you think you may also want to design apps, websites, or other tech for learning, then take the rest of the courses as well. Remember, you can click through to each course and enroll for free by “auditing” them.

Month 7: How to Build Online Learning Communities (Learning Community Manager)

Learn how to keep the party alive in online learning communities, with the key objective of boosting learner engagement and creating better learning experiences by drumming up engagement on learning platforms, encouraging the creation of user generated content and driving learners to content such as online courses, webinars and podcasts.

Skills to Master:

Community Building:

  1. Learn the fundamentals of building online communities from Jay Clouse who has built several for himself and others. Although each of these are $40 each, I recommend taking his Community Building Crash Course & Memberships & Advanced Community Building workshops because it goes in depth on what is covered in the fundamentals.
  2. The second community builder to learn from is Tom Ross, the founder and CEO at Design Cuts, a community of over 750,000 creatives. Start with this webinar, then dive into his 175 pg Community Manual which will take you through starting, growing, and nurturing a community with dozens of examples.
  3. Round out this skillset with some community management skills from Meta.

Month 8: How to Use Education Technology

Explore the world of EdTech, understand the technologies and how they can be used to enhance learning in the classroom and online. Gain skills to create your own apps to supplement your courses; no coding required.

Skills to Master:

Edtech:

  1. Take this Learning Technologies Foundations and Applications course from the University of Illinois to get a base understanding of learning technology.
  2. Ready to start building your own but have no idea how to code? Not to worry. Start learning from Makerpad the 100’s of no-code applications that can help you build any learning experience.

Learning Management Systems (LMS):

  1. Learn the basics of what an LMS is and what it does.
  2. There are dozens of LMS out there. Learn how to choose the right one for your needs with this guide and this guide from EdSurge.

Classroom Technology:

  1. Learn how to integrate Google technology into your learning environments.
  2. Learn how to integrate Apple technology into your learning environments.
  3. Learn how to integrate Microsoft technology into your learning environments.

Month 9: How to be an Educational Leader or Founder

Have an idea to solve the education crisis? Use this portion of the learning guide to help you learn what it takes to become an educational leader or founder, transform educational programs, and start a company.

Skills to Master:

Educational Leadership:

  1. Take the courses in this MicroMasters Program in Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement from the University of Michigan. Remember, you can click through to each course and enroll for free by “auditing” them.
  2. Watch the webinar and download the guide from the Texas Learning Exchange to get frameworks for making important decisions about topics such as learner-centered leadership for edtech, tech stack evaluation, providing equity through technological access and student data management.

Becoming an Education Founder:

  1. The best training you will get as a founder is by being in the trenches of building a startup. However there are some fellowships and schools that can help along the way. I recommend starting with Y Combinator’s Startup School.
  2. If you don’t have an idea and are unsure if you want to build a company in the education space, try Transcend Network’s Explorer Lab. If you have an idea and are already building, consider their Fellowship.
  3. You can also try On Deck Founders if you’re exploring starting a company and even get support with $25,000. If you’re ready to go all in on your startup and want to raise capital, try their ODX program where they invest $125,000 for 7% in your idea or company and support you with an intimate accelerator.

Conclusion

This learning guide will give you a comprehensive crash course into education in the most efficient way possible. By focusing on the things that matter, it makes learning fun. But it doesn’t end here. Learning never stops. Our first goal is to help you get started in education as soon as possible so you keep learning in the real world.

The real growth happens when you start working on real projects with real teams. That’s why I strongly believe that you want your initial ‘study’ period to be as short as possible. And you get to avoid going into debt and increase your time in the best environment for learning: working in teams.

With this learning guide we have built the foundations for which all your other learning can be built on top of. As you begin to expand your knowledge and really master skills, your rate of learning new things will be exponential.

Make 2022 the year that you took a risk, you learned highly in-demand skill sets, you were terrified, you had new experiences, and you received new opportunities. Good luck!

Download PDF Guide (With Checklist) For Free

No pressure, but I don't want you getting mad at me for not telling you that if you want a downloadable version, you can click the button below to sign up on Plato University and get access to PDF version of this guide that includes the month by month checklist!

Sign Up