How long does it take to learn something, really? Why do some people learn faster than others or remember more when there doesn't seem to be a difference in aptitude? There are more effective ways to learn, and we're exploring them.

(In this concept video, Daniel J. Pfeifer lists the learning tips below.)

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Creativity, productivity, strategy, all have this in common. We are constantly learning, constantly pushing the envelope of experience. So with that in mind, we want to be creative, productive, and strategic in the way we learn so that we can better create, produce, and plan. It's worth thinking about learning.

Over the past one hundred years, learning theorists have been observing how people gather and use information (not just text). I have picked up four principles that I try to employ to be a more effective learner.

  • First, when you learn something, use it right away. This is easily done when working on a coding project (but with caution as well).
  • Second, in order to learn something, repetition is the key. That's why when I hear a good joke, I find someone to tell it to right away. :)
  • Third, immediate feedback helps us learn reinforcing accurate information or technique and avoiding incorrect information or technique. Feedback is helpful in general even when it's not immediate.
  • Lastly is the idea of chunking or using information hierarchies of around seven. I will pause a learning situation if I get beyond seven discreet facts just to try to rearrange my hierarchy for more effective information storage - i.e. two memorable groups of seven rather one forgettable group of fourteen.

There are types of memory as well. Chunking not only works with text lists, but in a much more fluid way, it applies to spatial memory and proximity. If you had to list all of the world's oceans, would you list them alphabetically or would you start with the nearest coast (depending on where you were born or lived longest) and recite them spatially? Pretty cool.

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DJP Daniel J. Pfeifer, CreativeMargin, LLC 
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