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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How the Cognitive Learning Approach Helps You Learn Faster

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How the Cognitive Learning Approach Helps You Learn Faster

It is widely believed that as you become an adult, you get dull. Your personality stops to shine and the brain stops accepting new ideas the way it used to when you were a teen. Fortunately, that is not at all true. You can continue to polish your skillset as you grow, and the ability to learn never fades as long as you use the right techniques and cognitive learning.

Cognitive learning continues to help your brain grow so that you don’t ever have to stop gaining knowledge!

What Is Cognitive Learning?

Cognitive learning is a method in which your brain creates connections in order to understand the knowledge at hand.[1]

Basically, when your brain interacts with something that is new, it is almost impossible to comprehend it. For example, if you were to be introduced to a foreign language on its own, none of the information would ever make sense in your mind.

With the cognitive approach, your brain will connect the new information with what is already known. To do so, you may use visuals, audios, writing, or any other method that works the best for you.

In the example of a foreign language, with this approach, your brain will link the new words to prior knowledge. If you’re learning to write a specific word, you can create a link between its meanings with a visual that will help you remember how to write it correctly.

Similarly, the brain might not be able to remember the right pronunciation unless the word is related to a similar sound that the person is already familiar with.

Cognitive learning is the name of a constructive approach that leads to long-term learning. It is a very hands-on and active technique. The brain is forced to be a part of the entire learning process in a productive way. This neither tires the mind nor confuses it.

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This method strongly emphasizes prior knowledge. New knowledge is learned on the basis of old concepts. Not only does this allow the new information to find a permanent spot in the brain, but it also further solidifies the previous concepts.

The 3 Main Ingredients of Cognitive Learning

In the cognitive learning approach, you implement three major factors of the cognitive process:[2]

You use your cognitive skills and memory to recall familiar information, comprehend the new knowledge, and then apply the data retrieved from both these processes to create new connections.

In this case, the use of memory is limited to recollection, and there is no cramming involved. As for comprehension, your brain figures out the entire trail of knowledge for a solid learning base. Lastly, the application is useful for problem-solving, as well as for reflection. You can build onto the knowledge to learn more than what it stated.

All in all, the cognitive learning approach puts the brain to work in a healthy way. It makes sure that the learner actually retracts information from the presented knowledge instead of simply forcing it inside the brain.

This is why it is an effective approach, even for elders. They have years of experience, and their brain is full of relevant examples. This means that they are capable of learning anything in the world as long the approach is used correctly.

The Benefits of Cognitive Learning

Now we know exactly how cognitive learning works. Why should you bother to implement this technique in your life? There are tons of other options that allow you to learn new things effectively, too, so why bother with cognitive learning?

Knowledge Becomes Applicable

The learning process goes beyond the few hours of absorbing new ideas. You may consider an approach successful if it puts the required data in your mind. However, that is useless unless you can extract practical knowledge from this newly learned information.

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Let’s take the example of a training workshop where you’re learning tactics to deal with unsatisfied customers. The workshop is superb. You’re given a long list of tips to implement. However, that list is useless unless you can actually use it in real-life situations.

A customer is standing in front of your desk screaming at you. You are in full panic mode, and your brain is struggling to figure out a way to solve the problem. There is a clear image of the exact list that was taught to you, but you don’t know what information to extract from this list and how to implement it.

Had you used the cognitive learning approach, your brain wouldn’t have to cram the list of tactics. Instead, there would have been a clear understanding of how each tactic applies to the real world. You would have a solid connection with the given information.

A real-life scenario that demands the implementation of the knowledge would instantly trigger your brain, the links in your brain will light up the necessary portion of information, and you won’t get into trouble.

Cognitive learning is a method that affects more than just the process of the entry of information in your brain. It unconsciously affects other parts of the brain, too.

These parts work on the confidence of the individual. At the back of the mind, the learner is self-assured that whatever has been learned is done in a fool-proof way. This boost of confidence further aids the process of quicker learning and successful application of the idea.

You can learn how to leverage absorbent learning and take knowledge to the next level in this video:

A Leverage of Skills

Cognitive learning helps develop more skills than what the learner is aiming for. You could be learning a new language with this approach, but, simultaneously, your problem-solving abilities will also be polished. This means that right off the bat, your brain begins to learn how to use the learned knowledge to deal with real-life issues through new mental processes.

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On top of that, your brain will automatically develop the skill to understand situations at a deeper level in order to tackle them efficiently.

It is a technique that encourages more types of learning. Instead of wanting to give up, the cognitive approach will make you want to learn even more.

The cycle will continue, and you can keep polishing your skillset further throughout your life. Moreover, the knowledge learned with this method is long-term. Not only is prior knowledge strengthened, but the roots of the new information are always laid strong. Whatever new skill or information you learn, it will benefit you forever.

How to Use Cognitive Learning in Everyday Life

So far, you’ve seen how cognitive learning works and what benefits it has. But the real question is how to implement this approach in your everyday life.

There are three stages of learning. Cognitive learning is the first one. Once you put this approach in play, the other two steps follow naturally.

Cognitive learning can be done in any one of the following ways:

1. Implicit Learning

There are numerous skills you learn unconsciously. Nobody really taught you to speak, but you got the hang of how it’s done. Anything that you learn without an instructor is technically implicit learning. It is focused on unconscious psychological learning.

2. Explicit learning

This is the complete opposite of implicit learning. It is when you make an effort to seek an instructor who can teach you something. Looking for learning opportunities consciously is explicit learning.

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3. Collaborative Learning

When you’re learning alongside other novice level learners from the same instructor, it leads to discussions that may not have crossed your mind. Collaborative learning is dependent on interactions to a certain level.

4. Cooperative Learning

As collaborative learning includes a practical approach, along with a set of defined instructions, so does cooperative learning. It is quite closely related to the collaborative learning method.

5. Meaningful Learning

Cognitive learning focuses on the true understanding of what a piece of information implies. It is based on the total interpretation without rote learning anything at all.

For example, instead of learning the guitar’s chords, if you were to understand why each chord is different, it will be meaningful cognitive learning.

6. Observational Learning

As the name suggests, this is the learning done through observation. You learn what you see. The social environment and interactions play a big role here. Your socializing abilities are a kind of skill that you learn through this method.

Here’s how to do it: How to Use Observational Learning to Learn Effectively

The Bottom Line

There is no way to practically implement methods like implicit learning. Since it is an unconscious approach, it only works when the mind is not exactly focused on the task at hand. However, you can try out methods such as observational learning or meaningful learning.

Whatever you’re trying to learn, observe it being done practically. Watch sports competitions, for example, to learn how to play badminton or basketball. Or, understand the meaning that makes the knowledge useful instead of just cramming it word for word.

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The cognitive learning approach is undoubtedly an excellent method. It is a life-long technique that will never stop working!

More Tips on Learning

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] CumInCAD: Conversation, Cognition, and Learning
[2] The Tech Edvocate: What is Cognitive Learning

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on August 11, 2021

23 Killer Sites for Free Online Education Anyone Can Use

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23 Killer Sites for Free Online Education Anyone Can Use

Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless. Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent, free online education awaits on the following 23 sites.

1. Coursera

Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups. However, the free courses are now quite limited, so you’ll have to

2. Khan Academy

Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well-organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

Among the more well-known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly user-friendly, which may make it easier to keep learning goals. If you’re looking for a free online education, you can’t go wrong with Khan Academy.

3. Open Culture Online Courses

If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos, and podcasts from universities around the world.

The site features a lot of material found only on universities’ private sites, all in easy-to-browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses without having to visit and search each university’s site.

Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales, and many state universities around the United States. It’s a very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

4. Udemy 

Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

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Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top-quality content. This is another site, however, that mixes free and paid content.

5. Lifehack Fast Track Class

Lifehack believes in skills that multiply your time, energy, and overall quality of life.

In this rapidly changing world, traditional education skills just don’t cut it anymore. You can’t afford to take years learning a skill you’ll never really practice. Besides offering some paid courses that will help you become a better self, it offers a list of free courses which aim to train some of the Core Life Multipliers including:

These are cross-functional skills that work across many aspects of life.

6. Academic Earth

Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

7. edX

Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics from universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley, meaning a high-quality, free online education is entirely possible here.

8. Alison

Unlike the previous sites on this list, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

It’s a great option if users need a professional certificate for their learning, as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

9. iTunesU Free Courses

A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

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Desktop users can access iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including by genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos and paid content.

iTunesU does include courses on a variety of topics, but it does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

10. Stanford Online

Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session-based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

Stanford Online is a great site for high-quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school. If you’re looking for free courses, make sure to mark the “free” option on the left-hand side.

11. Open Yale Courses

Open Yale Courses echoes Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses but learn better by watching than by reading.

12. UC Berkeley Class Central

Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but it includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts, and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

13. MIT OpenCourseWare

Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, and it includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list. However, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics, but for the topics that are covered, impressive, in-depth material is available.

15. Codecademy

Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

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The courses at Codecademy are well-written and easy to follow, and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, and it organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

16. Code

Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high-quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

In addition to kid-friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics, and Javascript.

Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

17. University of Oxford Podcasts

The University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. This is another great site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

18. BBC Podcasts

For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

19. TED-Ed

Another great destination for more general learning and free online education is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all-encompassing, motivational web series comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, but it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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20. LessonPaths

LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high-quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

21. Memrise

Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

22. National Geographic Kids

The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid-friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keep kids interested on this site.

National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

23. Fun Brain

Fun Brain is another great option for kids looking for free online education, as it focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game-based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and it is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

The Bottom Line

With so many amazing free online education resources, everyone has the ability to boost their skills and knowledge. Whether you’re interested in picking up some interesting trivia for your next party, improve your resume with some coding or business skills, or become a more well-rounded person, these resources are perfect for you.

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Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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