How to…engage with independent-learning

We are used to seeing schools and universities as the only places where learning can happen. It's time for a rethink!

How to…engage with independent-learning

Learning something new is a challenging and exciting thing to do, but it's often not considered such by students. So many subjects at school are perceived as boring or extremely difficult, and negative marks make us believe that we are not good enough - therefore we should give up. However, if we think about how many skills we learn and how many tasks we complete every day outside school, we should reconsider our ability to learn. For example, I think about teenagers, who might struggle at school, but show incredible ability to build online communities or to learn complex analytics and strategies for videogames.

So here are a few suggestions for anyone who wants to engage with independent-learning and be their own teacher. These suggestions apply to whatever you want to learn: a new art form, a new skill or a new language.

Check for online resources – When I want to explore or find out something that interest me, I look on the web. Initial searches can send you to generic content. However, keep exploring, often after scanning a few pages, you will find directories that list the useful websites for your subject. The fantastic thing about this process is that it virtually never ends. One link draws you to another and so on. In this case, content is not ordinarily listed as text books, but it is more engaging - video content, open forums, online courses, you name it. You can build up your knowledge depending on your needs. I'd suggest initial searches on YouTube, Google and Ted to find inspiration.

Don't forget apps – Now that there is an app for everything, learning has become easier. There is an app that teaches you to how to hold a camera, or how to look after your plants, or how to improve your communication skills. Again, basic online research can help, before throwing yourself in the App Store.

Be a wise observer – If you have the chance to speak to someone more knowledgeable or if you are just watching a tutorial online, try to think critically. Sometimes the best advice is not communicated with words. A lot of useful hints can be caught observing their performance, if they are actors. Or look for elements that make their video outstanding, if you are interested in vlogging. Those are just two examples.

Try yourself – When you have gathered the knowledge you needed, it is time to experiment yourself. During the learning process, it is normal to make mistakes especially at the beginning. Experimenting gives you the opportunity to gain first-hand experience. This will allow you to shape a personal learning programme based on your strengths and weaknesses. There is no linear process in independent-learning. The different steps can be repeated and adjusted while progressing through this process.

P.S.: Here is also the link to an inspiring TED Talk by John Green about learning everything online. John Green is the author of The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns.

Image via Flickr


Elena Losavio

Elena Losavio Voice Reporter

Elena is a recent Master's graduate in English Studies. She writes about theatre, film and contemporary art. She is specialised in women's roles within media and the arts, and she creates A View from the Other Side, a monthly column on this topic. She occasionally writes short stories about her wanderings in Asia and never says no to new adventures.

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