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Learning unlocks all doors

Newsletter Issue 32 : April 2011

newsletter learning never stops learn to learn sing & learn unemployable

 

learn to learn

compiled by Sanjeev Dhawan

We have so much to learn throughout our lives, whether it be preparing for a test in school, training for a new job, working on a new project or, planning for a new career high. In today's fast paced life, time often comes at a premium and being able to efficiently learn new information is important. 

Following aspects of learning may help get you more out of your learning efforts.

What would you like to learn?

There is so much to learn

Read as much as you can. Reading opens up new vistas & expands learning choices. It is a good idea to keep listing what you wish to learn.

Deciding where to focus is important

Apply the 80:20 rule. Out of the listed choices prioritise which are important for you in present phase of life. Select top 20% of the total list based on your prioritisation. Focus on the prioritised items only.

Plan your learning.

"There are two paths you can go by." You can take a haphazard approach to learning, or you can put in a bit of planning and find an optimum path.

Set goals

Setting your learning goals is important. decide what level of competency you would like to achieve and what is your time frame.

Allocate learning time

Learning is only one facet of the average adult's daily life. You need to organize your time and tasks else you might find it difficult to fit time in for learning.  Plan your time and balance your learning, working and living.

I do not have time = I have not planned or, I have not tried

Internet is the store house of information & knowledge. Also, there are so many new ways to learn that offer great choices with respect to cost & time. Try new methods like webinars, online learning or, distance learning. You can always find a method that will fit your requirements.

Try to find alternate materials to study from; videos, PowerPoint presentations, maps, etc.

Understand the whole & than the parts

Understand the big picture, and have it in front of you as you examine smaller details.

Use information pyramids

Learning happens in layers. Learn the right things first.

Learn the basics. Build base knowledge upon which you can add advanced concepts.

Start from simple, then go to complex

Create the right environment

Listen to music

Researchers have long shown that certain types of music are a great "key" for recalling memories. Information learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled simply by "playing" the songs mentally.

Have pleasant smells around

It sets you in the right mood to learn. Also, smells trigger memory through information linking.

Collaborate

If studying by yourself isn't working, get a partner. It will also reduce the cost if you are opting for a method where cost can be shared (webinar as an example). Most importantly, you could discuss & clarify a lot of points and learn better.

 

Prepare for learning

Take a shower

It loosens you up, making your mind more receptive to new learning & new ideas.

Select the right time

We have our own individual best learning time. recognise & use it.

Teach yourself

Don't wait for someone to teach you. learning is most effective when you've pre-introduced yourself to concepts. Preview the subject to get a macro view of what you will be learning.

Use highlighters

Use highlighters to emphasize pieces of the material that are especially important. Colour-coding is often useful as well.

Take notes or make illustrations in the margins, or, if it is a book you shouldn't be writing in, put them in a separate notebook.

In the classroom sessions

Shake a leg

Lack of blood flow is a common reason for lack of concentration. If you've been sitting in one place for awhile, bounce one of your legs for a minute or two. It gets your blood flowing and sharpens both concentration and recall.

Take a break

Changing your perspective often relieves tension, thus freeing your creative mind. It helps to lighten the invisible stress that can sometimes occur when you sit in one place too long. Taking a 5-15 minute break every 1-2 hour/s during study sessions is more beneficial than non-stop study. It gives your mind time to relax and absorb information.

Change your focus

Sometimes there simply isn't enough time to take a long break. If so, change subject focus. As an example: alternate between technical and non-technical subjects.

Laugh

Laughing relaxes the body. A relaxed body is more receptive to new ideas.

Avoid visual distractions

Looking out the window or at the person in front of you will not help you learn the material.

Use illustrations

Make illustrations as you take notes. Draw pictures to help you visualize information. Graphs, maps, and images are helpful in retaining information.

Review & organise

After class, review and organize your notes. This will help you to sort out the information in a way that is meaningful to you and will make it easier to refer in future. If you have taken notes in a separate pad or, notebook, it is a good idea to attach a copy with the learning material.

Retain more & better

Use tools

Mind maps are a great help. They offer a compact way to get both an overview of a subject as well as easily add details. With mind maps, you can see the relationships between disparate ideas and they can also act as a receptacle for a brainstorming session.

Prefer writing than typing

While typing notes into the computer is great for posterity, for many persons writing by hand stimulates ideas. The simple act of holding and using a pen or pencil stimulates ideas.

Have a learning journal

This isn't exactly the same as a notebook. Journal has to do with tracking experiences over time. If you add in visual details, charts, mind maps, etc., you have a much more creative way to keep tabs on what you are learning.

Use the right type of repetition

Complex concepts often require revisiting in order to be fully absorbed. Repetition of concepts & theory with various related examples improves absorption and speeds up learning.

Visualise

When trying to learn or memorize a piece of information, close your eyes & try to visualise it.

Check the learning

One way people can learn efficiently is to accurately evaluate their learning and decide how to proceed further. This ability is known as "meta-comprehension".

Quiz yourself

Testing what you've learned will reinforce the information.

Challenge yourself

People are often more intelligent than they realize. In a world that compartmentalizes and categorizes everything, not everyone is sure where they fit in. And genius can be found in many walks of life. And the ability to learn is far, far more important than what you already know.

Use your learning

Try to use what you have learnt at the immediate possible opportunity.

It is better to try the first usage in controlled conditions like: friends, family, closed group, within department. After you gain confidence, you could put it in practice in more challenging environment.

Teach others

The best way to learn something better is to teach it to someone else. It forces you to learn, if you are motivated enough to share your knowledge. Moreover, it clarifies a lot for yourself and also gives new insights to the subjects at hand, hitherto hidden.

Above all, be enthusiastic in your learning pursuits & enjoy

 

 Happy learning