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How to Be More Knowledgeable

How to Be More Knowledgeable

Learning new skills at any age reaps a huge amount of benefits including raising self-esteem, increasing our sense of accomplishment and personal growth, as well as keeping those brain cells active and well-used.

We can all struggle to find the motivation to carry on learning no matter what the subject is but there are several different ways that can help us along the way. So how exactly can we learn effectively and become more knowledgeable as a result?

Motivation, the Sweet Spot and the Information Gap

To learn something effectively, we need to be present in the sweet spot. This is the magical space where we are neither sitting in our comfort zone nor forcing ourselves so much that we become demotivated.

Motivation is paramount in keeping us on track when learning new things and the sweet spot is the key to keeping this motivation going. Lingering too long on information we already know can lead to boredom and going too far into unknown territory can cause us to lose that much-needed motivation very quickly. It’s important that you keep a good balance and take small but challenging steps to keep you moving forward.

By doing this you need to be aware of the information gap. This is crucial when keeping up the motivation to gain more knowledge; we should always start with a subject in which we have basic understanding but where we still need an advancement of information to fill the gap. This way we can better connect our knowledge to what we’ve previously learned.

Remember, curiosity is one of the greatest motivations for learning, but this can be easily killed off if the level at which we are learning is too difficult. Maintaining a good pace and remembering that small steps achieve big goals will keep demotivation to a minimum.

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Not Everyone Learns in the Same Way

The important thing to remember is that we are all different when it comes to learning new information and skills. Intelligence is commonly thought of as our intellectual potential which can be measured with IQ tests, but in fact, research has shown there is a large spectrum of intelligence that differs from person to person and cannot be limited to conventional tests; this means that people have the potential to excel with different cognitive abilities and therefore, learn effectively in completely different ways.

Understanding your learning technique and utilizing it will allow you to become more knowledgeable on the subject you’re learning. Once discovered, make this your main source of learning, making sure you throw in some alternative ways for optimal results.

With this in mind, here are the most effective ways for retaining information and gaining the skills that you’ve learned.

Memory Tactics

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    Memorizing information can come more easily to some than others. If you struggle with retaining key points and more complicated topics then improving your focus is one way of dealing with this.

    Neuroscientific studies have shown that listening to certain type of music not only increases productivity but helps to focus the mind and retain information. Websites such as focus@will aim to keep you in the state of flow and concentration allowing your brain to utilize its memory function.

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    Cramming too much information into a short space of time can be tempting but ultimately, this is laziness in disguise. When we cram, we don’t think carefully about the meaning of what we’re learning; in other words, it’s all about quality not quantity.

    Make sure you structure your time well. Structured study sessions over a period of time allows you to process the information more adequately and research has found that the brain takes in more of this information through small regular sessions than one long, marathon.

    Relatable Learning

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      Relating and applying what you’ve learned to already-known situations is an effective way to understand new information. By doing this, you allow your brain to see connections through experience and previous knowledge, cementing this in the mind and allowing it to stick.

      If you try to apply it to the relevance in your own life or how it relates to things you find interesting and important, then this will help with focus and motivation in the long run.

      Learning Through Practice

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        This is one of the most popular methods of learning and one that I find the most effective. Lifting words from a page can be good in doses, but often our brain needs to experience the theories to fully understand the connections.

        A good example of this is when we learn a new language. The most effective way is the immersion technique where you are in a situation where you’re forced to speak the language and the brain is pushed to reach in and find translations as well as picking up on subtleties of speech, intonation, and assumption through gestures. Putting your mind through this trains it to find connections fast and efficiently much more than sitting down with a book.

        Explain What You’ve Learned to Someone Else

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          Another great method is to attempt to explain the new information to someone else. Doing this reinforces what you’ve learned in your mind, allows you to pinpoint any gaps in information or points you haven’t fully understood, and helps you translate the information you’ve gained into your own words and in a way that others can understand.

          This is an effective way to test whether or not your techniques are working for you. Start a blog, create a presentation or participate in discussions on the subject to solidify your knowledge.

          Try Different Methods of Learning

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            As I pointed out earlier, finding a particular way of learning that resonates with you is your first port of call. However, don’t limit yourself to just one method. The brain needs stimulation and even if one method is very effective, you can run the risk of getting bored and it’s in this space that motivation can wane.

            Once you find your most effective method, then utilize it but try to also mix it up by reading, watching related video clips, practical sessions, and explaining to others; being visual and verbal are both important factors when learning effectively and becoming more knowledgeable in your chosen subject and creates a good balance.

            Always remember that becoming an efficient learner takes time and practice as new habits need to be formed and established. Be patient with yourself and focus on one method at a time to allow yourself to find out what suits you. Motivation is key so do what you can to keep this up; focus on the small, steady and effective steps to get you to the next level.

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pixabay.com

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            Jenny Marchal

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            Published on January 19, 2021

            What Is Learning by Doing And Why Is It Effective?

            What Is Learning by Doing And Why Is It Effective?

            The list of teaching techniques is ever-expanding as there are multiple ways for us to gain knowledge. As a result, there are multiple techniques out there that leverage those particular skills. One such technique I want to share with you is learning by doing.

            This technique has been around for a long time, and it’s a surprisingly effective one thanks to the various perks that come with it. Also called experiential learning, I’ll be sharing with you my knowledge on the subject, what it is deep down, and why it’s such an effective learning tool.

            What Is Learning by Doing?

            Learning by doing is the simple idea that we are capable of learning more about something when we perform the action.

            For example, say you’re looking to play a musical instrument and were wondering how all of them sound and mix. In most other techniques, you’d be playing the instrument all by yourself in a studio. Learning by doing instead gives you a basic understanding of how to play the instrument and puts you up on a stage to play an improvised piece with other musicians.

            Another way to think about this is by taking a more active approach to something as opposed to you passively learning about it. The argument is that active engagement provides deeper learning and that it’s okay if you make mistakes as you learn from those as well. This mentality brought forth a new name for this technique: experiential learning.

            What Are Its Benefits?

            Experimental learning has been around for eons now. It was Aristotle who wrote that “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”

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            Over the years, that way of thinking changed and developed and for a time was lost once computers were integrated into schools. It’s only been in recent years where schools have adopted this technique again. It’s clear why teachers are encouraging this as it offers five big benefits.

            1. It’s More Engaging and More Memorable

            The first benefit is that it’s more engaging and memorable. Since this requires action on your part, you’re not going to be able to weaken your performance. This is big since, traditionally, you’d learn from lectures, books, or articles, and learners could easily read—or not read—the text and walk away with no knowledge at all from it.

            When you are forced into a situation where you have to do what you need to learn, it’s easier to remember those things. Every action provides personalized learning experiences, and it’s where motivation is built. That motivation connects to what is learned and felt. It teaches that learning is relevant and meaningful.

            Beyond that, this experience allows the opportunity for learners to go through the learning cycle that involves extended effort, mistakes, and reflection, followed by refinement of strategies.

            2. It Is More Personal

            Stemming from the reason mentioned above, learning by doing offers a personal experience. Referring back to the cycle of effort, mistakes, reflection, and refinement, this cycle is only possible through personal emotions—the motivation and realization of knowledge of a particular topic tying into your values and ideals.

            This connection is powerful and thus, offers a richer experience than reading from a book or articles such as this one. That personal connection is more important as it encourages exploration and curiosity from learners.

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            If you’ve always wanted to bake a cake or cook a unique dish, you could read up on it or watch a video. Or you could get the ingredients and start going through it all yourself. Even if you make mistakes now, you have a better grasp of what to do for the next time you try it out. You’re also more invested in that since that’s food that you made with the intention of you having it.

            3. It Is Community-Connected

            Learning by doing involves the world at large rather than sitting alone in your room or a library stuck in a book. Since the whole city is your classroom technically, you’re able to leverage all kinds of things. You’re able to gather local assets and partners and connect local issues to larger global themes.

            This leans more into the personal aspect that this technique encourages. You are part of a community, and this form of learning allows you to interact more and make a connection with it—not necessarily with the residents but certainly the environment around it.

            4. It’s More Integrated Into People’s Lives

            This form of learning is deeply integrated into our lives as well. Deep learning occurs best when learners can apply what they’ve learned in a classroom setting to answer questions around them that they care about.

            Even though there is a lot of information out there, people are still always asking “what’s in it for me?” Even when it comes to learning, people will be more interested if they know that what they are learning is vital to their very way of life in some fashion. It’s forgettable if they’re unable to tie knowledge in with personal aspects of their lives. Thus, experiential learning makes the application of knowledge simpler.

            5. It Builds Success Skills

            The final benefit of learning by doing is that it builds up your skills for success. Learning by doing encourages you to step out of your comfort zone, discover something new, and try things out for the first time. You’re bound to make a mistake or two, but this technique doesn’t shame you for it.

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            As a result, learning by doing can build your initiative for new things as well as persistence towards growth and development in a field. This could also lead to team management and collaboration skill growth. These are all vital things in personal growth as we move towards the future.

            How to Get Started

            While all these perks are helpful for you, how are you going to start? Well, there are several different approaches that you can take with this. Here are some of them that come to mind.

            1. Low-Stakes Quizzes

            In classroom settings, one way to introduce this technique is to have many low-stakes quizzes. These quizzes aren’t based on assessing one’s performance. Instead, these quizzes are designed to have learners engage with the content and to generate the learned information themselves.

            Research shows that this method is an effective learning technique.[1] It allows students to improve their understanding and recall and promotes the “transfer” of knowledge to other settings.

            2. Type of Mental Doing

            Another approach is one that Psychologist Rich Mayer put together. According to him, learning is a generative activity.[2] His knowledge and the research done in his lab at Santa Barbara have repeatedly shown that we gain expertise by doing an action, but the action is based on what we already know.

            For example, say you want to learn more about the Soviet dictator Stalin. All you need to do is link what you do know—that Stalin was a dictator—and link it to what you want to learn and retain. Stalin grew up in Georgia, killed millions of people, centralized power in Russia, and assisted in the victory of World War 2. This technique even applies to the most simple of memory tasks as our brain learns and relearns.

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            3. Other Mental Activities

            The final method I’ll share with you is taking the literal approach—getting out there and getting your hands dirty so to speak. But how you go about that is up to you. You could try reading an article and then going out and applying it immediately—like you could with this article. Or maybe you could find further engagement through puzzles or making a game out of the activity that you’re doing.

            For example, if you wanted to learn about animal behavior patterns, you can read about them, go out to watch animals, and see if they perform the specific behaviors that you read about.

            Final Thoughts

            Learning by doing encourages active engagement with available materials and forces you to work harder to remember the material. It’s an effective technique because it helps ingrain knowledge into your memory. After all, you have a deeper personal connection to that knowledge, and you’ll be more motivated to use it in the future.

            With that in mind, I encourage you to take what you’ve learned from reading this article and apply that in the real world. It’s only going to benefit you as you grow.

            Featured photo credit: Van Tay Media via unsplash.com

            Reference

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