Education is a wonderful way to open doors to many fantastic opportunities. Learning, no matter your age, is key to personal development. Advancing your education will frequently lead to more opportunity, greater freedom and the potential to earn a higher salary.
However, there are times when learning new or complex concepts can be challenging. How can you best optimise your learning experience when this happens? Firstly it is important to understand the styles of learning that suits you best.
The Seven Learning Styles
However, taking the time to find out the best way for you to study by answering the question 'what is the best way for me to learn?' will help considerably. There are seven well-recognised learning styles that most people adopt while studying.
You may prefer to use pictures or images to help you remember different material. A very basic example would be that a triangle could prompt you to remember the three points and how they relate to each other. In addition, something as simple as writing your notes in different colours could aid memory.
As a result of these basic concepts, you are more likely to excel in instances where a model or graphical representation of information is available. Consider using Google Advanced Image Search as a way to ensure that your brain is making the most of visual triggers.
Some people find that music or sound helps them relax while learning and triggers recall when the information is needed. A playlist with particular songs may help you to recollect specific material.
It is worth experimenting with binaural beats and determining whether or not these have a beneficial impact on your learning experience. Another method to improve your learning process could be to record lectures and/or yourself talking about the key information and listening back to recordings when driving, travelling or out for a run.
Verbal learners find it easier to focus on the words themselves. Reading your study material out loud might help you to better absorb the information. For some, copying the same information out on a sheet of paper several times will help it sink in.
If you find that you are almost ‘reading aloud’ inside your mind, this will help your brain retain key information. The best way to optimise your learning experience is to avoid or remove anything that blocks this from occurring.
Linking what you’re studying with what’s around you also can help during exams. A physical learning style uses the body and the senses to remember where you were and what you were doing while you were learning.
If you are a physical learner, then demonstrations and experimentation are going to help your understanding and recall of the concepts you need to learn. It is not always possible to conduct a physical experiment and at these times, you should attempt to associate senses with the key elements you need to be able to recall.
If you’re a logical learner, you may have a specific system for absorbing new information. You may prefer to use reason and understanding as your learning method. Logical learners will frequently benefit from sessions where discussion and debate of the material is possible. Our online learning platform helps facilitate discussions for you.
If you are a logical learner you probably prefer a seminar over a lecture. A seminar allows participation in discussion. You can work through the logic of key theories with others and then the inputs of others will help you construct the reason why something happens or why a process works.
It will hardly surprise you to find that a social learner benefits from studying in groups. However, we would also recommend that you find yourself a regular study partner. With an online degree you’ll have a diverse cohort of peers to potentially learn with.
Learning with other people may help to spark new ideas and is a great way to ensure that you not only remember information, but also how to build on your theories. By working with a range of people, your learning experience will benefit, if they have any biases or simply alternative ways of thinking. Advanced learning thrives on challenging ideas and concepts by questioning them and examining a new approach to familiar concept. In the modern world, this can just as easily be carried out through learning experiences presented online as it can in person.
You may find it difficult to concentrate and absorb information around others, so you may prefer to be alone while you study.
If you are a solitary learner then your optimal learning experience is going to come from eradicating wastage and distractions from your learning sessions. We would recommend:
- Listing distractions that you experience during a session and working to eliminate them
- Removing all technology that you are not using during the session. If you must use technology, then a Chrome plugin like Stay Focus’d allows you to block notifications and social media to drive your focused learning time
- Preparing in advance – procrastination is the biggest enemy to solitary learners. In order to avoid reasons to procrastinate prepare equipment, food and drink that you may need
- Inform those around you that you are focusing on your learning for X amount of time
- Consider using a Pomodoro timer to ensure that you are breaking up your learning into manageable chunks and boosting your retention. This approach is particularly important for highly complex concepts that you are learning
Optimising Revision and Learning Time
With an advanced education program, it will be important to recall concepts you’ve forgotten, learn new ones and build your overall education by examining the information that is available to you. Even if you’ve taken the tests and established your preferred learning style as one of the above seven types, don’t be afraid to explore different types of learning methods to make the most of your experience.
For example, fitting in sessions around work or family obligations can be a challenge. Try optimising your revision time by experimenting with different learning methods that work for longer sessions, but also for shorter sessions where you may have to compete against bigger distractions and/or divided attention. Even if you later return to your original methods, it’s highly likely that you’ll remember the material learned using the new style simply because you were doing something novel or new.
However, whilst optimising your learning experience can be helpful, be careful not to push yourself beyond your limits. Sitting in front of a computer screen all day can take its toll, no matter how optimal the experience appears to have been immediately afterward. Some other key tips we’d recommend:
- Remember to take breaks and to stay hydrated as you work
- Ensure that you take mini-breaks away from the screen every hour
- Avoid doing too much - overworking yourself will mean that you’ll be likely to make mistakes and forget the things you’ve just learned
Most importantly, do your best to try to make learning fun!
These learning tips were provided by the University of Exeter Online. With 100% online courses, our programmes are an ideal fit for busy professionals and career-changers who need the flexibility an online programme offers. We offer a community-based learning environment that encourages collaboration and independence.