After college or university, we usually stop to formally take a class; this makes the rhythm and habit of acquiring new knowledge decrease and like any other muscle, that part of the brain become lazy and loses its strength. Recover from this requires determination, stay focus and keep going attitude to be on the top again.
I have been preaching about online courses for a long time now, with a one year mission to motivate people to join me to learn and share, because the way we learn has changed and technology created new methods to share experiences. The Transformation of the way we acquire knowledge is a fact, nowadays when you need to look for knowledge, you head straight to online resources and decide between "Google it" or "YouTube it"; two great resources that have replaced trips to the library, and created a new trend on knowledge acquisition "Immediate" or "Just-in-Time".
It is also a fact that once you leave university, you lose the discipline of being in a classroom, paying attention and focusing on gaining new knowledge, meeting up with classmates to discuss and share what the teacher said or what was recommended to read. Sharing your opinion and interpretation of information, which helps you to retain.
But, why you need to start learning again? Well, it happens that the world is not a static place and for sure your job isn't neither; technology evolves and is touching every single corner in the businesses, transforming processes and bringing new tools and challenges.
Let's go back in time a bit, do you know that there was a world where MS Excel did not exist? At that time the Spreadsheets were pice of paper used by Accountants to keep a record of items, inventory, prices, costs, quantities and other transactions details. Then after many years, by the '80s, the transformation happened and Electronic Spreadsheet appears (yes, I saw VisiCalc but no, I am not too old). Imagine how was the impact for these people that were using a calculator and suddenly have thousands of calculators within the new system; they needed to learn and adapt to take advantage of the new tool. Now we complain that excel online is not as powerful as the desktop client and we want to link more books.
Coming back to our question "why", because change is a constant, and learning is the method we have to deal with change, that is why learning should be considered a continuous and unstoppable process.
Then next logical question is, how can we recover the habit and the strength that once was there, helping to pass exams? I want to propose a few simple and practical steps, it has helped me and probably will help you too.
Find a course about a topic you really want to learn about, something that motivates you doesn't need to be work-related. The idea of this is starting to create the habit, the discipline. A good start is a topic which is a frequent discussion within your circle of friends, so you can also discuss and share.
This will be your time, an environment without distractions, such as social media is key, put away the mobile phone or turn off the notifications. Distractions are everywhere, be conscious of that and make your best effort to avoid them.
You are going to dedicate time to your development but the right doze, as minimum 30 min. As in the gym, you can't start with weight lifting in the first class if you haven't built the muscle for that. This recommendation from a technique called the Pomodoro , which recommend a short session of learning (25-30 mins) followed by a break (5-10 mins) you can grab a tea, go for a short walk.
Making use of all the resources available you can share and gain a better understanding of the topics. Use your current role/project to make it real. If the topic you are learning is not a common discussion within friends, join a community of practice, all the online course providers have a student forum. You can also check in Meetup for events related to the topic happening near you.
Create a list of courses you want to take that are related. You can check the Welcome or Introduction video to get an idea of complexity (some are already ranked by difficulty) Use this as your playlist and roadmap, putting together similar courses in an incremental way. Is very important to include in this roadmap to celebrate every achievement, your brain loves that.
Some times the content is just slow, which make it less engaging and attractive, try to speed it up. In many (if not all) video players you can change the playback speed to make it slower or faster; initially change it to x1.25. It also depends on the language and your understanding. Repeat the lessons if needed, the objective is that you get the knowledge no to hear a course.
Hope you find this useful and share your comments below