Everything seems faster these days. We need to produce more and do more in less time. We need to get everywhere faster. Even the internet is not fast enough for us sometimes.
The same goes for learning. There is so much we need to learn and there never seem to be enough hours in the day.
In order to help you learn faster, we have put together a list of fast learning finds.
Teach someone else
While you are learning, if you think about the material as if you were going to have to teach it to someone else afterward, research shows that you are able to learn it faster. Teachers often organize information and plan how they will pass on information.
This kind of planning can help learners retain more of the information.
When people sleep between learning session they will retain information better. In fact, sleeping during study breaks can help learners recall information up to 6 months later.
Studies at Louisiana State University have found that there is an ideal length of learning. Researchers discovered that less than 30 minutes is not enough time to learn something new but over 50 minutes is too long.
After 50 minutes the brain stops processing and acquiring information in a way that helps to retain information. Breaks of 5 to 10 minutes are ideal.
Many learners now take notes on laptops or tablets. But researchers at Princeton and UCLA say that taking notes by hand is the better method. They found that when learners took notes by hand they listened more attentively and remembered concepts better.
It seems that writing creates different thought patterns and connections in the brain that cement learning.
Not only should learners take breaks during the day, they should also take breaks during the week. Research shows that studying every day is not very effective.
Often, the brain ignores materials when it is repeated over and over in a short period. It is much more effective to take a break lasting a couple days or even a week before reviewing the material again.
When learning something new, repetition can be boring for the learner’s brain. To learn something faster, research shows that the brain likes change.
When learning something new, changing the approach to learning can help learners retain the material faster. For example, written courses can seem much more attractive when converted into visual mind maps or videos.
For complicated tasks, it is always better to break down the task into smaller parts. Chunking similar bits of information and building up to learning the whole task, helps learners master new skills faster.
Cut out multitasking
Multitasking is not the best thing for work productivity and it is also useless when learning. By some estimates, it takes about 25 minutes to get back to learning every time a learner is distracted by another task.
Often times people try to move on and forget mistakes after they have made them. They quickly fix things and move on. But mistakes can be very useful if used correctly.
After learners make mistakes they should analyze them so that they can retain the specific information that triggered the mistake as well as what fixed it.
Many people have probably heard the saying ‘Practice makes perfect’. That saying is actually pretty accurate.
Neuroscientists have found that when people perform a task their grey matter increases, but when they stopped, the nerves were ‘pruned’, meaning that the nerves were cut in order to have room for something else. So, ‘practice makes perfect’ and ‘use it or lose it’ are important principles in learning.
Learning can be difficult. But when learners fill themselves with doubt or if they receive negative feedback from leaders, they slow the learning process.
Research in positive psychology shows that optimism and having an open mind helps improve the speed of learning.
Find some excitement
In order to learn things faster, they have to be exciting or different in some way. Even boring topics can be more exciting when tied to something weird, wacky, or strange.
Memory champion, Joshua Foer, memorized an entire deck of cards in under two minutes by associating each card with a strange image.
Many times, the things we learn are not familiar to us. When there is something new we need to learn, we can speed up the process by finding relationships between the new information and things we already know.
This form of learning, called associative learning, is an excellent way to learn new information.
Elon Musk is a master at this. By using learning transfer, he is able to shift learning from one context to another. This can include taking a theory and applying it in a practical way or it can be taking a theory from one industry and applying it to another.
UCLA professor, Keith Holyoak, states that people who want to improve their learning transfer skills can start asking themselves two questions when learning new things: “What does this remind me of?” and “Why does it remind me of it?”
Also read: 4 Ways to Ensure Learning Transfer
Making use of the brain is an excellent way of speeding up the learning process. As neuroscientists learn more about the brain, they are discovering more about how people learn.
One of the most important discoveries of the last decade has been mirror neurons. Mirror neurons are useful because they get activated by just the sight of something, without actually having to do it.
This means that for learners trying to master a new skill, watching someone else do it can be just as, if not more, beneficial as learning the theory and practicing themselves.
Hopefully there are some tips here that are useful to you when creating a new learning program for your team. Remember to adapt every activity to the individual learning styles of your employees.