The fast-paced world we live in requires ongoing training to stay up to date and complete in our knowledge. This post is intended to help you become self-taught and gain valuable (and sometimes just fun) skills for your job, whatever that may be. The best thing about being your own teacher is you get to learn at the pace you’re most comfortable with. So let’s get started:
1. Look for reliable information sources
Needless to say, there are basically infinite online courses and tutorials. However, very few of them are actually good. Some of them are confusing, incomplete, incorrect, or their examples are poorly explained, etc. Whatever it is, you should find a course that is good for YOU. Take some time to find a course that you think is complete, correct, and explained in a way that you can easily understand.
2. Try to generalize the content
If you are looking to learn something very specific, sometimes it’s hard to find information. Try to think critically about what you are learning. As you go through the course, think about other ways to apply what you have learned. Not only will you acquire knowledge, but immediately after you finish the course you’ll hopefully have a couple of ideas about how to apply this knowledge in your particular situation.
3. Don’t focus on only one type of course
Do you consider yourself as a visual or verbal learner? Well, according to this study, the learning styles hypothesis is being debunked. So try to mix it up with different types of courses with similar content presented in different ways (e.g. text-based, visual, audio, or hands-on).
4. Don’t skip steps
If you feel confident about a subject, you might think that some of the course steps are unnecessary for you (especially the introductory ones). For instance, you may be learning a new MVC framework and the first steps of the course are the most basic explanation of the MVC architecture. Even though you know this already, it is important to at least take a quick look at these steps. Think of it as a review; it can help refresh your memory and deepen your understanding of important concepts.
5. Take notes
Being a little distrustful of your memory is not always a bad thing. It’s important to take notes throughout the course. Write about what you have learned instead of transcribing everything (which, unless you’re a stenographer proficient in shorthand, is impossible). That way, when you check your notes later it will be easier to get in context and your notes will be more useful. Some studies suggest the medium and strategy of taking notes affects the usefulness of your notes. This one indicates that taking notes on paper is more effective than typing them. That could be a matter of personal preference. The goal is to take notes that will be useful to you in the future.
6. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much information
In the computer science world there is a famous algorithm called “Divide and conquer.” The strategy breaks down a big problem into smaller, easier to solve problems. The solutions to the little problems all add up to create the ultimate big solution. If you are trying to learn a new framework or a new programming language (or anything with complex steps involved), determine what are you trying to accomplish with that knowledge and set small goals. As you reach your small goals, you will eventually achieve the bigger goal.