Whether you work in IT, want a career in the industry, or just can’t get enough of the cloud, you’ve likely learned one too many languages and technologies here and there. Why not? Even the experts like learning something new, especially with the never-ending list of new things to discover these days.
Of course, if you’re learning for business, you need to find a way to be efficient. And the sooner you become an expert at something, the more your business can benefit from your new knowledge or skill.
Then again, learning doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, there are many levels to it, starting with getting an overall picture of the subject or language to be learned, getting down to the thick of it, deeper and deeper, until we learn how to apply our learning to the real world.
So what’s the best way to learn technology? One thing’s for sure – we all learn differently, which is why there are various types of teaching methods and processes to begin with. In a way, this only makes things complicated. Is there a secret to learning a new technology or language? How do you know where to look or where to go to find the materials most useful to you?
Of course, there are no specific, hard and fast answers to those questions because we all ultimately learn in our own unique ways. That’s why you’ll never find any particular formula for learning. However, there are approaches to this process that have historically worked perfectly with the human brain. These are the approaches that you should master to maximize your own learning.
Again, there’s no magic bullet when it comes to learning new technology, but the are things that can help you do it faster and more effectively, starting with the following:
Read, read, read.
You’ve heard this countless times before: to learn, you have to read. And there’s a good reason you may never even stop hearing that advice for life. We all get it all the time, and that’s only because it works! Especially if you’re learning new technology. Remember, most programming courses and materials are made for this learning approach. In fact, reading is a core skill that you need if you want to be a programmer.
For instance, in any given course, you can use bits of documentation to quickly grasp a lesson about a program and how to apply that lesson in a real-world scenario. Online, there are also many forums or communities that discuss different technology problems and solutions, as well as successes. You read those discussions and you learn from them. Of course, there are those open-source or free websites like W3Schools or Github that can help you with your learning by offering information to read.
Learn with your eyes.
Another way you can learn new technology is through visual stimuli, such as colors, images, and visual media. Visual learning works particularly great as text editors use different colors for tagging keywords in the code. Those colors are there for a reason anyway – they help make things easier to remember.
Even when learning terminologies, colored notes can help you memorize the meanings of terms or make useful associations that also help with retention. Even source code editors come with color-coding features for the same reason. Wireframe models are fantastic for visualizing your projects. You can always go for those resources that rely a lot on visual elements, like charts and graphs.
This obviously refers to learning through your sense of hearing, such as with audiobooks, podcasts, webinars, and the rest. Effective speakers don’t just sound nice. They actually express ideas and offer information using certain tones, voice depths, speech speeds, etc. that affect how you absorb information.
Learning new technology can work particularly well with this because when you learn something, especially technical terms, in a particular context, you tend to recall them faster and easier. By learning with you ears, you learn a whole experience each time, and that’s what makes the lessons easier to understand and remember.
Touch and feel.
This one clearly comes with many things hands-on, such as exercises, practice tests, and the rest. Tactile learners are totally comfortable with fragmented codes because they find joy in the process of putting these together. They learn best when they piece bits of information into a single concrete product.
Of course, learning new technology requires a good framework. You’ll want to equip yourself with all the necessary bottom line skills, such as HTML or PHP. And definitely, you can sign up for programs where you are encouraged to create your own projects instead of just copying and pasting codes, hoping they work.
Learn to analyze.
When learning new language, analysis will involve lots of problem-solving in a certin order, grasping cause and effect relationships, working with simulations and the rest. Logical thinkers actually enjoy workflow tasks and reading documents from beginning to end and using libraries with hierarchical flow.
Without a doubt, learning new technology boils down to solving problems for the most part, so you need to take advantage of each chance to practice, whether it’s crossword puzzles or detective games and so on.
Be out and about.
Aside from the things that you do to learn on your own, going out and learning from the rest of the world could work for you too. After all, we’re social beings, and you could be a social learner or someone who learns better in a group. If this is how it works best for you, make it a point to join study groups, programming meet-ups and the like.
There’s no reason to strap yourself to your work desk if you actually learn more quickly and richly with others who share your interests and pursuits. It’s all about finding your pulse through it all and learning your way around it.
Teach and learn.
Teaching gives you the chance to express your knowledge in spoken or even written words, and if anything, that will further reinforce your knowledge so that it sinks even deeper and deeper into your mind. Teaching is also a challenge in itself and one that allows you to learn from it as you try to find a solution. This is exactly why you feel more confident about what you’ve learned when you are able to articulate it to yourself. Many people study by reciting their lessons out loud, and it almost always works.
When you teach someone, the same principle is at work. In fact, it may even be more powerful as a study technique. For example, by explaining a complicated subject to a beginner, you force your mind to be creative, and that becomes, to you, a new experience of the subject matter or skill you’re teaching. Again, that knowledge becomes easier for you to keep and remember as it will become more deeply ingrained into your consciousness.
Go back to basics.
Yes, before you can learn big things in technology, you need to go back to basics. That means everything you use for learning should be well-attuned to your basic requirements for learning in the first place. For example, if you’re the reader type, invest in a computer monitor that is large enough for you to see clearly and avoid vision issues. If you like to read from your phone, at least use a tablet as it is bigger in size and thus easier to read from.
When you’re too passionate about learning more, especially in the rapidly evolving world of technology, you sometimes forget the essentials. Before you can learn Ruby on Rails to create an entire website, check if your tools are poised to give you maximum learning. Remember that we learn through our senses, so all the materials or resources we use should be well-optimized for them.
At the end of the day, you just want to consume all the possible resources you can use to learn as much as you can. But of course, you need to choose those resources too according to how you learn best. If you’re not sure yet, trial-and-error may push some things to the surface. Very importantly, be patient. It won’t be easy to learn a program, and you have to give yourself the liberty to make mistakes.
Definitely, it’s not going to be a smooth ride all throughout. You will go through some bumps along the way but do try to work your way around them, even if you have to make sacrifices, such as partying less or making healthier food choices to boost brain function.
Sometimes, in this journey of learning new technology, you will feel worthless, especially when nothing you try ever seems to work. However, there will also be moments when you’ll feel like you hold power in your hands. And there’s nothing wrong with that.It’s comes with the package of learning something new and getting a boost of confidence.
So don’t stall and don’t be intimidated by any new technology. In fact, that may well be the first tip you should keep in mind. Be a dauntless learner!