Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing it takes in.”

Growing up, I don’t recall having had too much of an interest in school. While there were some subjects or teachers that peaked my curiosity, I was pretty well guided by my own interests—namely the guitar. In fact, I dropped out of college, only a year from graduating, to move to Nashville in an effort to “make it” as a musician. Then, a couple of years in and without much success, I began developing a fascination for the business of marketing.  I reenrolled and finished my degree. This time it was different because it finally felt right and I actually cared.

I have plenty of thoughts about education reform, most of which I’ll reserve for another time. That being said, I believe Da Vinci’s notion of desire really does play a monumental role in the outcome of one’s education—at least that’s been true for me.

I think we’d all agree access to information is unprecedented these days. I often imagine how much easier it might have been to have learned a guitar lick if I could have seen it performed on YouTube rather than pressing “stop,” “rewind,” and “play” over and again on my CD player. The deal is, if you’re interested in a particular subject, no matter how obscure, the Internet has the bandwidth to connect you to that information.

It also has the ability to cater the delivery of that information to various learning styles, even for an auditory learner like me. Sure, audio books have been available for years, but they’re expensive when compared to paperback. In the past, if one really wanted to pursue independent learning, the only option was to set aside time to read a book. Don’t misunderstand—reading should be encouraged and is a vital part of my day. Now, however, I have the option to simply insert my headphones, connect to an iPhone, and I’m listening and learning while at the gym, running errands, or walking the dog. It’s readily available, customizable, and covers a wide-range of topics. Here are five of my favorite iPhone Apps that promote the independent learning process:

1.) TED Talks (iPhone/iPad)

If you’re not familiar with TED Talks, I recommend you  take a look here. TED, which stands for TechnologyEntertainment and Design, is a series of global conferences. Each conference features 15 to 18 minute “talks” from some of the world’s most prominent minds over a diverse range of subjects. The iPhone app is a well organized, easily filtered collection of all this content—more than 1,500 talks categorized by subject-matter. Not every talk is a winner, but more often than not, I’ve been challenged or inspired by the ideas I’ve heard from the TED platform. Take a look!

2.) iTunes University (iPhone/iPad)

TED Talks are convenient in that they are of relatively short duration. However, if you’re looking for a more conventional, in-depth educational format, the iTunes University app is a powerful interface with access to college-level curriculum. Universities such as YaleHarvardColumbia, and many more have uploaded courses and materials from a variety of subjects—and most of it’s free! A given course at iTunes U consists of instructor videos, audio segments and reading materials. Even if you don’t make it through all the course materials, it’s still rewarding to simply sift through and explore things that sound interesting.

3.) Apple’s Podcast App (iPhone/iPad)

Podcasts are such incredible tools when it comes to keeping up with the latest insights around a given topic. With Apple’s Pod Cast App, you can filter through thousands of podcasts and subscribe to video or audio podcasts that strike you. You can even create stations around a given topic and your iPhone will automatically download new episodes from the stations you’ve subscribed to. You just launch the app, and it’s ready to go. This is a staple while I’m at the gym, jogging, picking up groceries, etc. It helps me maximize my time while working on chores or exercising.

4.) Pulse (iPhone/iPad)

Blogs, both professional and amateur, are stocked full of some amazing content. Well, maybe not all of them. The truth is, there’s an overwhelming supply of blog-based content floating around and it’s difficult to find credible sources and materials that serve my interest. I’m also a sucker for good design, which is lacking for a great number of blogs. Using Pulse on my iPhone, I’m able to access credible sources on all sorts of topics that interest me. What’s more, I’m able to accomplish this on a well-designed, standardized platform. Pulse connects to practically endless news sources about technology, business, politics, marketing, and more. It’s fast and easy.

5.) Audible by Amazon (iPhone/iPad)

Like I said earlier, I’m more of an auditory thinker and learner, so it’s probably no great surprise that I prefer audio books. Audible, by Amazon, is a stunning app with a sizeable selection of books. The Audible iPhone app makes shopping for a book simple and intuitive and its media player has stylish, straightforward features and functionality. If audio books are your thing, then in my book, it doesn’t get any better than Audible.

What apps, websites or technologies have you found to be valuable in your pursuit of knowledge? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Jason Pantana, Realtor, Speaker, NashvilleJason guides real estate professionals through current and emerging trends in consumer behavior, sales and marketing, and entrepreneurship. To invite Jason to speak or to schedule a consultation, visit: www.JasonPantana.com/Contact