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How to Educate Yourself and Be an Effective Self-Learner

How to Educate Yourself and Be an Effective Self-Learner

Innovation and automation are everywhere in the many industries of the world. It’s a wonder watching it but, with it stems some problems with more and more people being replaced with robots and having to re-train or enter another field.

In order for people to do those things, most people often turn to go back to school rather than considering other options. While going back to school could be helpful, you can always consider learning how to educate yourself instead.

Maybe a long time ago that option wasn’t a reality, but with good quality information and other factors, educating yourself now is well worth considering. Even if you’re not in the market for a new job.

What Does It Mean to Educate Yourself?

What it means to educate yourself is a matter of having a series of habits that promote how to educate yourself. Going into finer details, these habits comprise of a system to help you stay up on relevant topics that you are passionate about.

As I mentioned earlier, this method has only sprung up in recent years as a valid option. The reason that’s the case was that information wasn’t readily available. Several decades ago, our information came from newspapers, radio, and television.

But now, information is being created every single day by the thousands through blog posts run by professionals or large businesses.

The quality of the information and the quantity of it has increased thanks to the Internet and further expansion of it. It’s to the point what it means to educate yourself is leveraging the information on the Internet.

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Can You Self-Educate without Going to College?

Since the internet is the best way to gather information, it’s totally possible to self-educate ourselves without going to college. Here are some ways to start off:

1. Stay Current on Industry News

Not just the news of the industry you’re in, but also in other areas you have an interest in.

As I said, the industries are changing because there is always something happening. One way on how to educate yourself is being aware of what’s going on in the industry.

The only thing to keep in mind with this is there are many ways to stay caught up in the industry. You don’t need to pay for subscriptions to several papers or magazines to stay caught up. Turn to social media and search for relevant hashtags or keywords, or sign up to news outlets mailing lists. There are plenty of free options.

2. Sign Up for Online Courses

Information has become so abundant that there are all kinds of courses available. Online learning is also a really effective way to learn these days. Some options you can turn to are sites like Udemy or Skillshare which have thousands of courses available. Here’re more sites for self-learning: 25 Killer Sites For Online Education

Some universities have even opened up courses online for free. One example of a site providing that is edX which has courses from MIT, Harvard, Berkeley University and others. And at Lifehack, we offer some free classes too.

3. Get a Mentor

Every industry has skilled individuals who are willing to teach others. Backed by years of experience in the field, they can pass down valuable lessons that no other classroom could teach you.

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This is another strong method because a mentor is likely to stay ahead of the curve. Their years of experience and understanding of the industry can lead to more specific advice. After all, traditional colleges and universities tend to focus on widespread information rather than what you really need to know.

A mentor is another way to get a personalized experience. Here’re some tips on finding a mentor that suits you: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

4. Take Up an Arts Class

While some people think that arts of any sort are a waste of time or a joke, it’s worth considering it seriously these days.

Recall that innovation stems from people’s ability to look at a problem and create creative solutions. Don’t you think that requires some creative thinking?

While you might not want to be an industry trendsetter, being artsy or creative can provide other benefits. Benefits that come to mind are:

  • You can do this solo. Done by yourself and taught by yourself has perks to it.
  • It is cheap to do. Want to be a better writer? Open up a document on your computer and start typing. You can do the same with any other device as well. Even if you’re looking to draw or paint art supplies aren’t that costly and you can pace yourself as much as you’d like.
  • You could meet other people. There are other writers, artists, singers and more in your town. It’s a matter of looking around for them.
  • You will learn new skills. All of these mediums provide various skills when you look at them. Not only that but you can also learn about yourself through this medium too.

5. Start Journalling

Even if the art stuff isn’t something you’re keen on, I’d at least suggest taking up journaling. Specifically journalling for the sake of reflecting.

This doesn’t mean you have to journal about your day, but rather focus on the information that you learned that day — personal or otherwise. This is important because information only stays as relevant to us as long as we recall it and retain that information.

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With this in mind, you can use the journal to jot down big lessons that day, quotes, or other little tidbits of information you want to remember. After that, be sure to check that journal once a week to go over what you’ve learned.

Try one of these 15 Inspiring Journal Ideas to Kickstart Journaling.

6. Always Be Looking Stuff Up

Google and Wikipedia are powerful sources of information. Make a point of using it every day at some capacity, especially if you’ve got a smartphone or you’re around a computer.

One other alternative to look at is bringing a dictionary or encyclopedia with you. The idea with this is to look up a new word and try to make a reference of it over the course of the day.

How to Learn Effectively as a Self-Learner

It’s one thing to know how to educate yourself but it’s another to be effective at it. Some strategies can be focusing on one of the activities above and spending only 15 minutes a day on that. However, there are other methods to consider to be an effective self-learner.

Use the Sandbox Method

The first method I’ll suggest is the Sandbox Method.[1] It’s an ongoing process for self-education and is based on how we learn and process information.

This method recognizes that we don’t always need to memorize facts, formulas, or other specific bits of information. Instead, the method helps us to develop a deep understanding of the skills we’re using and expose ourselves to a lot of information around that topic. We can then use that information to improve ourselves and to encourage further learning.

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Here is a breakdown of the method:

  1. Build the sandbox. What this means is determining where you’re getting the information, and what the information is about. Your sandbox by the end should be cheap or free to do, have low-stakes, and have some public element to it.
  2. Do the research. Start off with how-to’s and general information about the area you are learning. These get you to practicing your skills which give us a better grasp of the topic.
  3. Implement and practice. Once you’ve done the skill on your own, the next thing is to make it more public. For example, if you are wanting to learn how to bake, start baking goods for guests or for a party.
  4. Get feedback. Once you’ve done something, go back and do some more research. Keep filling in gaps of knowledge. Create your feedback loop. Maybe there is a better method to baking a pie? Or perhaps your form was off when lifting weights? Whatever the case is, you want to be certain you’re doing it right or finding ways to improve your current performance.

Take Up These Learning Habits

While the sandbox method is a great method, there are other alternatives. Namely strong habits that while alone may do little, but with many can give you a well-rounded learning experience.

Here are some ideas that come to mind:

  • Having a studying environment. You don’t have a classroom, so the next best thing is making a place you frequently go a place of study. It could be a library, a room in your home, or a cafe. Regardless, have a place where you can study and learn with purpose.
  • Highlight information. If you’re the type to buy books or e-books, make use of highlighters. You can also consider other note-taking apps where you can store specific bits of information. Apps like Evernote or OneNote are great for that.
  • Learning from various mediums. There are 7 styles of learning we can use though we prefer only one or two of these methods most. Figure out which ones you like and challenge yourself to learn in a different way.
  • Set goals. To get into learning as a lifestyle, it’s important to keep up the habit. Goals are a good way of staying on track of the habits you want to have.
  • Consider tutoring. Not only can you get paid to tutor people, but this also reinforces things you learn as well. Tutoring is also a way to validate and reassure what you are learning is sticking with you too.

Final Thoughts

Being a self-learner is all about adopting and embracing various methods on how to educate yourself. While going to university are still valid options, the sheer amount of information available allows any person to learn about anything.

So save yourself the massive time and money sink to go to university and consider these habits. These habits can pay off in big ways over time.

More Tips for Self-Learners

Featured photo credit: Cassidy Kelley via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on June 1, 2021

How to Use the Learning Style Quiz to Accelerate Your Learning

How to Use the Learning Style Quiz to Accelerate Your Learning

If you’ve ever taken a learning style quiz, you know that the idea is to find your most prominent learning style. The question then becomes: what do you do with that information?

A textbook definition of learning styles is:[1]

“Characteristic cognitive, effective, and psycho-social behaviors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment.”

That’s a fancy way of saying that different individuals interact with their learning environment in different ways. You’ll often see learning styles in conjunction with higher education and other types of cognitive learning courses. The theory is that, if the teacher is aware of the various ways in which people perceive information, they can differentiate the instruction to meet those needs.

To the casual learner, understanding your learning style can help you find the best way to learn new information. There are seven different learning styles, and everybody uses a little of each one (on a sliding scale).

In this article we will talk about how many different learning styles there are (and what they mean), get you to try the learning style quiz, and find out how to use your specific learning style to improve your life.

The 7 Learning Styles

The following is an overview of the various learning styles[2]:

1. Visual / Spatial

A visual learner thinks in pictures. They prefer having illustrations, pictures, and other types of images to help form a mental image of what they are learning. Visual learners are typically spatial thinkers.

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2. Aural / Auditory-Musical

An aural learner learns through music and rhythm. While actual music isn’t necessarily required to reach an aural learner, it certainly is more effective.

3. Verbal / Linguistic

A verbal learner prefers using words, both in speech and in reading. A person with this learning style might prefer a good lecture or textbook to more visual and auditory styles.

4. Physical / Kinesthetic

A physical learner prefers using their body, hands, and sense of touch. A person with this learning style is more of a “hands-on” learner who prefers to learn by doing.

5. Logical / Mathematical

A logical learner prefers information to flow from one thought or idea to the next. A person with this learning style prefers mathematics, logic, and reasoning.

6. Social / Interpersonal

A social learner prefers to learn in groups or through social interaction. A person with this learning style usually prefers group-work and project-based learning.

7. Solitary / Intrapersonal

A solitary learner prefers to work alone. People with this learning style are great at teaching themselves and often prefer self-study and online courses to more traditional learning methods.

Did you see yourself in more than one learning style? If so, then you understand that no one person has just one learning style. Each of the above styles exist in everybody to a certain degree.

If you take a learning style quiz, you might see a certain style emerge as the strongest (and, thus, more preferred). However, that does not mean that person cannot learn in one of the other ways listed.

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Learning Styles and the Brain

Learning styles influence and guide the way you learn. They affect the way you internally represent your experiences, remember information, or even dictate the words you choose[3].

Learning style quiz: Dunn & Dunn learning styles brain map [Source: Kos, (2017)]

     

    Research suggests that each learning style makes use of a different part of the brain. Here is the breakdown for each learning style:

    • Visual: Visual learners use the occipital and parietal lobes at the back of the brain.
    • Aural: Aural content is mostly processed through the temporal lobes (especially the right temporal lobe for music).
    • Verbal: Verbal content is processed through the temporal and frontal lobes.
    • Kinesthetic: Kinesthetic learning is processed using the cerebellum and the motor cortex.
    • Logical: Logical learning is processed through the parietal lobes (specifically using the left side of the brain as it pertains to logical thinking).
    • Social: Social learning happens in the frontal and temporal lobes.

    How to Use the Learning Style Quiz to Improve Your Life

    Perhaps you didn’t realize that people had different learning styles before you read this article. Maybe you already knew about learning styles.

    Whatever the case, you can learn a lot about yourself just by taking a short learning styles quiz. But what do you do with the knowledge you get from the results?

    Here are some tips:

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    Visual Learner

    If you’re a visual learner, focus on how you can make the material you’re learning more visually appealing[4].

    1. Stay Organized

    If a learning style quiz tells you you’re a visual learner, focus on getting your material organized. Your brain will likely feel overwhelmed if your notes are chaotic.

    2. Use Color

    Try color coding information in order to help your mind visually separate each bit. For example, if you’re studying for a history test, highlight dates in yellow, people in blue, and places in pink. This technique will set important pieces of information off in your mind and make them easier to remember.

    3. Watch Videos

    Ditch the audio-books and podcasts and either read or watch videos and lectures online. Your strength is found in visual explanation — seeing the information in a book, diagram, or demonstration.

    Auditory Learner

    If you’re an auditory learner according to your learning style quiz, focus on using your ability to hear to take in information[5].

    1. Limit Distracting Noises

    Traffic outside your window, students speaking nearby, or music blaring from a speaker won’t help you while studying. You’re already prone to take in the sounds around you, so if you want to learn something specific, find a quiet place to work where you can limit distracting noises.

    2. Read Aloud

    If you’ve taken notes in class, try reading them aloud to yourself. You can even create jingles or rhymes to help you remember specific bits of information.

    3. Record Lectures

    Instead of just simply writing notes as your professor or boss speaks, record the lecture or conversation and listen back later. This will help solidify the information with aural cues. Also, try speaking with classmates or coworkers to help “fill in” the information.

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    Kinesthetic Learners

    Your learning style quiz tells you that you’re a kinesthetic learner. Here are some study tips to help you[6].

    1. Teach Someone

    After you’ve studied the target information, try teaching it to someone else. This dynamic activity will help turn on your ability to recall the information.

    2. Be Hands-on

    Using your hands to create something will help your brain work through specific problems. If you need to remember 20 vocabulary words, try drawing a map and placing the words in specific places. This is related to the idea of a memory palace, which you can learn about here.

    Bonus tip: Try chewing gum, as the movement may help activate learning centers in your brain.

    3. Take Breaks

    As a kinesthetic learner, your mind won’t like being in one static position for very long. Take time to get up and walk around or do another physical activity for a few minutes between study sessions.

    Also be aware that most of the learning styles can fit into one of those three categories. You are essentially going to be one of these three types of learning styles paired with an interpersonal or intrapersonal preference. In other words, you either like working with others or you don’t.

    If you’re ready to take your learning to the next level with your learning style, check out the video below for some more tips and tricks:

    Final Thoughts

    Have you taken the learning style quiz yet? If not, scroll down this page a bit and try the quiz now!

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    If you spend just five to ten minutes on this quiz, it may give you insight into learning styles that will change your life.

    More on How to Use the Learning Style Quiz

    Featured photo credit: Eliabe Costa via unsplash.com

    Reference

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