Archive for the ‘ Learning How to Learn ’ Category

Tips to give Students on Learning how to Learn

The tips in this post were extracted from http://www.rod.beavon.clara.net/learning.htm. For other posts about Learning How to Learn click the category in the sidebar.

Free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Here are some tips (with my input) that you can pass onto your students to help them learn.

Tip #1: Set the Expectation that Learning takes Time

To learn something (rather than memorize it and place it in short term memory) requires that students take the time to assimilate the information and reflect. It can be frustrating at first as students may feel that they are spending too much time on the activity of learning, but let them know to be patient as the more they learn, the faster the process will become. I see it as becoming efficient at something the more one does it.

Tip #2: Plan for Learning

Planning is key to staying on track with a course and learning. Dayplanners (electronic versions, even) can aid students in dedicating time to learning. Point out that they should have balance and plan time for family, friends, extracurricular activities, down time, or anything else they feel they need. Students should also consider including some buffer time in case of unexpected situations that may affect the time they’ve planned for learning. Also suggest that students record any reflections they may have about things they’ve learned while on the go. For myself, I find that when I’m on the bus, about to doze off, or preparing for work, I’ll have a realization that I’d like to explore. I jot it down on my mobile device, however, students can carry a small notebook instead if they prefer. I suppose bar napkins work also 😉

Tip #3: Use effective learning techniques in each learning session

In each of the learning sessions, students should …

  • plan to work for an hour. If any longer, plan for a break.
  • review the material covered in the last session.
  • have a  particular goal in mind of what they would like to accomplish.
  • skim the material to be covered in the current session
  • recast the information in a different form (into a drawing, flowchart, mindmaps, etc.)
  • skim the information again to get another overview with the new knowledge they have gained.
  • review the information you have learned and revisit areas where you’ve had difficulty. Jot down questions to ask the instructor for areas that remain unclear.

These are just some of the tips from the resource. Definitely visit the website and read for more tips that you could pass onto students. There are tips specific to particular learning activities like reading, writing, assessing graphs, etc.

Where do these Tips fit in for Virtual Software Training?

In using these tips, I would pass on this information to my learners in form of a tip sheet. However, is that really enough? One imagines that getting them to complete activities that foster this skill would mean that we, as educators, are tearing them away from their role. Corporate learners have very little time to spend on learning as they are balancing their full time jobs. However, that’s the perspective that needs to be slightly adjusted. As an educator, it is my role to help students understand that if they learn how to learn, then they are actually saving themselves time and preventing costly mistakes (from misusing the software tool). As the resource mentions, learning to learn means that knowledge obtainment becomes more efficient over time. However, we shouldn’t overlook how the effectiveness. Learning the material effectively means the student can properly use the software. This saves them time as it means that there will less likely be mistakes that will need to be addressed (which uses up more time than if it were done the best way the first time around).

Thus, in addition to providing them with the tip sheet, some time in the training session will need to be carved out so that I, the educator, can sit down and help the learners plan their first learning session outside of class. Alternatively, they can help each other since the learners typically all work together and can understand the demands of their job. Assistance like this may be required as the task may be too daunting for them to learn to do on their own while balancing their job. Thereafter, students can plan their own learning sessions and review it with the instructor or their classmates until they get the hang of it. I also believe that making a learning session plan would help commit them to learning the tool.

At the beginning of each class, during a review, I would involve students to share what has worked for them in this approach to learning to learn. This way, the learners can share any additional techniques they’ve found that have helped them learn.

How would you use these tips or pass them onto your students?

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Four Steps – Planning for Learning How to Learn

If students understand how they can learn, then they can utilize the tools that they know would work for them. This awareness of the process of learning is discussed quite a bit in my post about Metacognition. Check out that post for some tools that you can use with your students.

Another useful tool I found is from the Study Guides and Strategies website: http://www.studygs.net/metacognitiona.htm

According to the Study Guides and Strategies website, there are 4 steps in learning to learn:

  1. Begin with the Past
  2. Proceed to the Present
  3. Consider the Process and Subject Matter
  4. Build in a Review

On the website, there are questions that belong to each of the above steps that can help students develop their strategies to learn.

Students should first begin with the past and assess the strategies that have worked for them before. They can ask themselves questions like, “What is your experience about how you learn?”, “Did you like quiet or study groups?”, “What are your study habits?”, “What has worked, and what hasn’t?”

Then they assess the present and ask themselves questions like, “How interested am I in this?”, “What affects my dedication to learning?”, “Do I have a plan? Does the plan consider my past and learning style?”

Next, students consider the process and subject matter by asking themselves, “What is the heading/title and keywords that jump out?”, “As I study, do I ask myself whether I understand?”, “Should I go more quickly or more slowly?”, “If I don’t understand, do I ask why?”

Lastly, students build in a review and ask themselves, “What did I do right?”, “What could I do better?”, “Did my plan coincide with how I work with my strengths and weaknesses?”

Check out the website for more questions within each of the four steps.

When would you have students go through an exercise like this? Before a project or exam? At the beginning of the course?

I think for my own training scenario, I would have students go through an exercise like this before the course starts or at the beginning of the first class. I would then incorporate a group activity where they share with other students techniques that work for them. This can help other students adopt new techniques they haven’t tried before in learning.