Stacey Conliffe is the Marketing Manager for the Ciena Learning team.

Whether you were a square peg, a jock, a cheerleader, or somewhere in between, chances are you identified with—and sang—these Pink Floyd lyrics at the top of your lungs. I know I did. At least, until I was grammar-policed by my English teacher, Mrs. Alexander. She threw a brick in my anthem’s proverbial wall by pointing out the lyric has a double negative—the negatives of ‘don’t’ and ‘no’ cancel each other out, producing an affirmative. So, in other words, we do need education.

And while this time of year marks the beginning of the back-to-school season for kids in many parts of the world, education is increasingly important for us adults also.

That’s why I’m so excited to tell you about Ciena Learning’s new Discover Series, an entire library of free, self-paced learning courses for our industry.

But more on that soon. First, let’s channel Mrs. Alexander to help school you on a few reasons why you need to start thinking more about your own education.

The Half-life of Skills is Declining...and Fast.

Technology and innovation are moving forward at warp speed. The sheer pace of advancements is so extreme that certain competencies you use right now might be outdated by the time you’re done reading this blog post.

Kidding. Sort of.

Today, the half-life of a learned skill is reducing at a significant rate. According to John Seely Brown, co-author of the book, The New Culture of Learning, it stands at approximately 5 years. This means that much of what you learned 10 years ago is obsolete, and half of what you learned 5 years ago is irrelevant, no matter what industry you work in.

The half-life of a learned skill now stands at only 5 years. This means that much of what you learned 10 years ago, is obsolete and half of what you learned 5 years ago is irrelevant, no matter what industry you work in.

Lifelong Learning is the New Normal.

With new technology popping up frequently, every day we know less and less about more and more. Regardless of your level, regardless of your field, you cannot afford to remain stagnant in your knowledge. If you view learning as a one-time event where you attend a college or university, get a degree and are then “done” learning, then you’re as good as “done”.

You should never consider yourself too indispensable, too knowledgeable or too old to adopt a learning mindset to keep current on the latest trends, developments, and opportunities. Aside from broadening your mind, it will help reinforce your professional Teflon to better weather the challenges and changes ahead.

And let’s face it. They will come.

Shift Towards Schooling Yourself.

Though employers are looking for people with the most up-to-date skills, many workers are on own when they want to expand their knowledge and capabilities. Plus, with connected devices being a source of instant information and knowledge, the responsibility of training is quickly shifting away from employers entirely on to employees. (This means you.)

But how? Let’s face it— you’re busy. You work a full time, demanding job. You have a family. You like to eat dinner and get some sleep. Juggling all this AND learning is no easy feat. Plus, why go back to a college or university for 2 or more years, pay huge fees and learn skills that may just end up being outdated right after you graduate?

Introducing Ciena Learning’s Discover Series

Whether you need to jump start a job search, climb the ladder, or excel in your current role, it’s always a good idea to expand, hone, and refresh your skills. This is where Ciena can help.

With over 65 courses, our Discover Series provides the perfect starting point to learn about Ciena’s core principles, products, and solutions, and more. Developed by industry experts, the web-based, self-paced content is available to you anytime, anywhere. (Translation? You don’t need to board a hot, smelly school bus.) And the learning opportunities never stop as new courses are added continuously.

The best part? The content is 100% completely FREE. (You just need to open a Ciena Learning account. No worries, that’s free too!)

Granted, learning fundamentals might not be the sexiest gig in town. At the same time, it’s important and necessary if you want to move forward.

One of the reasons people fail to learn quickly is that they don’t build a solid enough foundation. They paralyze their progress by forcing themselves to move past concepts they haven’t yet mastered. If you can’t get an “A” grade in arithmetic, you shouldn’t progress to algebra — otherwise you’ll struggle trying to learn calculus.

And I get it. We live in an age of speed and a culture of impatience. Many of you (ok… me) want to move right into the heart of things. But just as you can't pick up a guitar and start playing Wish You Were Here before learning all the chords, you can't skip over the fundamentals of Ciena’s 6500 and go right into troubleshooting.

Long story short? Getting back to the basics is as important as getting back into school. The great thing is that education for professionals has come a long way. No more pencils. No more books. No more teacher’s dirty looks. When it comes to going back to school Ciena-style, all you need is your laptop or phone, an Internet connection and a sense of discovery.

Start discovering—for FREE