I was recently watching one of Tyler McGinnis’s React tutorials and at the start he talked about a problem with online learning:
“The fundamental problem with online learning is that you get this perception that you are learning something. You’re watching a tutorial and you’re feeling good and you’re like ‘Yeah I’m gonna get a raise, I’m gonna tell my mom about all this stuff I learned..’ But unless you’re doing stuff, you’re not learning.”
He follows this with his solution of a project-based course where you are building with him as you go. This part of the video stuck with me. I don’t think this problem he addresses is a problem with online learning, but with any kind of learning. If we just passively listen to a lecture (whether it’s on YouTube or in person) we won’t learn. This problem just shows up more when it comes to teaching yourself online, because no one else is testing you or having you prove that you’ve learned something. Here’s some of the things I do to ensure that I’m effectively learning:
- Deliberate practice. Working on a certain skill and getting feedback on how you’re doing. I like this article on deliberate practice. As a new programmer the other year, I felt that sites like CodeWars were helpful because they presented you with a coding challenge and feedback on if your solution was correct.
- Teach what you learn. If I learn something new and I want to know if I actually learned it, I try to describe it to a sister or a friend. If I can’t answer some of the questions they have on it, this usually means I don’t really understand. Sometimes this just means that I’m not that great at explaining something technical, but the more I try to explain things, the better I get. Making a YouTube video or writing a blog post has been a great way to solidify what I’ve learned.
- Have someone else hold you accountable. This could be a friend or an accountability group. It could also be a boss or a co-worker. When I need to learn–and fast–so I can solve a problem at my job, I end up learning a lot more quickly than if I had just decided to learn and maybe solve a problem someday.
What are some of the ways you ensure you’re effectively learning?