Learn all the things

23 March 2016 on learn. 2 minutes to read

I meet lots of folks in the context of technology meetups and events, and I can answer questions about technologies, languages or frameworks even if it isn’t my core competency. So this generally leads to the question of: How do I learn this or that technology? Over the years I have described how I learn and have realized that I am often talking about the process of learning rather then the specific learnings. So here it goes…

[Photo credit: Got Credit]

When I am looking to learn something new my first step is to see if there are podcasts that revolve around this subject matter. The reason I look for podcasts is that I have found that the first step to knowledge is understanding the nomenclature and verbage around the this technology. It is really important to understand the words that are in play for this technology, and hear them used by experts in the field. I also listen to podcasts at 2x the normal playback, I do this because I feel like I can retain more information and get through more podcasts every week, so I spent effort slowly increasing the playback speed over a few years. I am an android user and my current podcast player is Pocket Casts from Shift Jelly this supports both variable speed playback and removing silence, which I find works really well for me. Now that I have laid the groundwork for true knowledge I move on to watching a video tutorial series, usually I will watch it slightly sped up (about 1.25x or 1.5x the normal playback speed). I will watch the video initially straight through, and then go back and watch again pausing to type out any code that is being shown in the video to explain a concept. This will usually get me pretty far up the learning curve of the basics of what I am learning, at this point major concepts and paradigms should have surfaced. At this point I will likely try to watch at least one more video tutorial or screencast to reenforce the newly gained knowledge. A good way to surface the holes in your know often go and explain it to someone or do a presentation a meetup. While you are preparing the presentation or explaining the technology you will have to explain details and answer questions from inquisitive folks that you are teaching.

Hope that this helps shed a light on how I approach learning new technologies, but the big takeaway should be that you need to learn HOW you learn. This is my learning methodology, and I have spent years focused on the nuances of my own path, and slowly seeing the path to knowledge appear. I learn by initially listening, then watching others and finally writing code, rinse and repeat until I feel comfortable with this new subject matter. I suggest that you spend a bit of time to look inward and find your path to enlightenment, find out your learning process. Are you an aural learner? a visual learner? a reader? or some combination of them all? Answer these questions before I can help you answer the question of: How do I learn…?