Life hacks for learning

Joshua Schwimmer, MD, FACP, FASN, created an excellent Slideshare presentation called “Life Hacks for Doctors.” It’s a guide that helps physicians consider how they can aggregate, organize, and respond to, the large volumes of information they confront in their practices. Many of the tips included in the presentation are relevant to learners in a multitude of fields, so I thought I’d highlight some of these tips here and expand on them.

Create learning efficiencies

“To learn lists”  can be a  good thing

  • Identify learning tasks that are mission critical and move those to the top of the list. Separate the “nice to know” from the” need to know.”
  • If you can go through a learning task easily and quickly, do it today (but do it reflectively, asking why you need to know this and how your new-found knowledge can be applied)
  • Group learning tasks by location (e.g., find tasks that are mobile and use your mobile moments to tackle them)
  • Group similar learning tasks together (it will help you to connect them to form mental models and that will help you remember what you’ve learned)

Keep a list of questions you need to answer and go through it regularly.

  • Tackle at least one question a day
  • Review at least one thing you’ve learned recently (spaced repetition consolidates learning)

Organization helps (and technology can play a role)

An important Life Hack is to find systems that allow you to enhance your learning efficiency. Don’t be overwhelmed by tools, but do know when to use them. Automate any process that takes time away from your  thinking time. If you can explore a tool quickly and decide how, or if, you can incorporate it into your learning processes do so. Tap into social networks to find out what others have tried and tested and found worthy.

Some tools I’d recommend

Tools that help you organize and annotate information:

Tools that automate search processes

  • Google alerts
  • Topic specific alerts (e.g., PubMed alerts)
  • Diigo Group alerts
  • Your RSS reader

Social networks

Human search engines can be surprisingly effective. Look to:

Find both the human and system knowledge bases that exist at your company so you don’t reinvent the wheel (though it’s alright to reenvision the wheel).

Some other tools for learners and researchers are listed here.

As noted by Joshua Schwimmer, Life Hacks can be:

  • Simple
  • Discrete
  • Nonintuitive
  • Clever
  • Surprisingly effective

What are your favorite Life Hacks for learning?

One response to “Life hacks for learning

  1. Pingback: Personal Learning Networks for Health Care Professionals | Instructional Design Fusions

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