Improve Your Technology Skills Online
If you're looking for resources to help build your knowledge of technology solutions, the Web can be a great place to start your search.
August 1, 2009
Overwhelmed trying to keep pace with technology, or attempting to master the tools that can transform your career? The educational resources you need are readily available online. The latest product updates, instructional videos, insightful advice from your peers—it’s all there, once you decide what you need to know and have some idea where or how to find it.
“The problem for most is deciding what to look at first,” says Randy Eager, CRS, GRI, and president and founder of Computer Camp, which offers real estate technology training. “There’s just so much available now.”
When Eager started the company in 1989, his training focused on merely two real estate software programs that were available at the time. Today, real estate professionals have a much larger array to choose from in specialty software, communications, and marketing technologies, and a range of hardware—computers, cell phones and smartphones, digital cameras, GPS, wireless networks, and multi-function machines.
Eager’s technology advice for real estate pros: “Start with your Web site, and get it right, as it will point you down the road to increased productivity,” with all of these other tools.
5 Places to Look for Training
Recent changes in Eager's business underscores the ease with which proactive real estate professionals can now get educated online, whatever the topic. Here are some of those ways.
1. Webinars. “People started to shy away from buying tickets to attend seminars at conventions, or put on by their board or association,” Eager says. “As a result, we’re doing a lot more training now through webinars.”
Transmitted over the Internet in real time and often archived after the fact, webinars provide much of the same content as a traditional seminar without the need for attendees to gather in one place. Webcasts, another increasingly popular educational tool, deliver comparable content, although presenter and audience cannot interact.
“A webinar is something you can participate in from your home or office,” Eager says. “All it takes is a computer with an Internet connection—click a link and you’re in.”
2. Specialized programs and training. Real estate is a highly specialized career. For an education on how the latest tools and technologies can advance your professional goals, you'll want to explore the varied Web resources available at REALTOR® University from the National Association of REALTORS® as well as NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Technology. The REALTOR® University Web site offers more than 400 hours of real estate and continuing education to earn designations and certifications in the business. View a list of their upcoming courses.
To learn about the latest products and their use, online tutorials can also be great resources. Look for tutorials produced by hardware manufacturers such as Dell and Apple and software publishers like Microsoft and Adobe—which can be good places to start. Also, vendors such as Lenovo maintain a knowledge base of frequently asked questions about their products, with forums where consumers can pose questions and get answers from others eager to help.
4. Online publications and blogs. Some of the sites that Ryan Shaughnessy, a broker with Lafayette Square Real Estate in St. Louis, checks regularly include technology clearinghouse CNET.com, MakeUseof.com for reviews of useful sites and Web resources, and the Social Media Edge podcast on blogtalkradio.com for insight on social networking. He monitors advances that promise productive benefits to real estate professionals and shares what he learns in his blog.
He recommends ActiveRain for advice on practical use of the latest real estate tools. “You’ll find a concentration of people there who are already tech-oriented,” he says. “Post a question and you’ll get answers from people who understand real estate and are eager to help, encourage, and mentor others by sharing what they know.”
5. Simple search. Still can't find what you're looking for in training? “The best advice I can offer is to start with hardware or software, one at a time and go to Google and type in ‘How To Use...’ plus whatever you’re interested in. You’ll be on your way,” Eager says.
While a search can point you to some sources on a given subject, results rarely provide any insight into the quality of the content. You may have to check out several sites, blogs, and webinars to find the ones that can provide the kind of instruction or information you need.
Whatever your challenge or interest, answers are always available online, at your convenience—and always just a few keystrokes away.
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