Effective learning in the digital age

There was the old way of adult learning. We sat in a classroom for a day, or a week, or if you did an MBA then for a year - listening to a teacher and taking notes. If we were lucky it was called a 'workshop' and we also got to do some funky exercises which have long since faded from the memory. Perhaps we read a book or many books and scribbled in the margins. In the new millenium we started taking online courses - watching the videos while clearing our emails and hoping that we might remember something.

Then some time would pass while we did other stuff until the time came when we needed to put into practice what we had 'learned'. Cue frantic rummaging through A4 binders of notes, thumbing through books again (if we still have them) or hunting around for the video URL. The flaw is obvious. Without practice, actually doing stuff, there is no learning. Nothing actually changes. The information just goes in one ear, pauses for a few hours or days if you are really lucky, and then goes out of the other ear.

There is a better way though. Having a go. Rolling up our sleeves up and actually investing time and effort in speaking spanish/running/making sushi or in my case, building this website.

Even better is when having a go is combined with some expert input to show you how to do the tricky bits and give you some inspiration. The internet makes accessing this sort of expert support easy and affordable and increasingly it is well designed and fit for purpose.

Even better still is when having a go is combined with some expert input and a small community of like minded people taking on a similar challenge who can encourage, support, critique and share in your journey towards proficiency. There are some interesting new approaches out there. Seth Godin has shown a new way for executive education with his altMBA and I tried a different approach when building this website.

For my website project I took the Squarespace 101 course and became an active member of the course facebook group where I could share my weekly site development goals and get some helpful feedback. The accountability helped me get the first version built quickly (more on getting stuff out there in another post). I did the course bit by bit as I was actually creating my site. It is what an effective adult learning experience should look like. If you want to build a website I can highly recommend the experience, there is a special offer on until the end of October.