Thursday, January 11, 2018

Why "Learning" Is the Next Skill You Should Master

Remember the days of grade school when we had folders and subject notebooks for each course? If you are a parent, you're intimately aware of this because of money spent every school season on different colored folders. Teachers have a system that is designed to help students focus and retain knowledge for the specific subject area through organization and memorization. As adults, some of us have figured out our own process for retaining the information we need, and thanks to technology, there are countless apps providing the details at our fingertips.

How effectively you learn a new skill is specific to your learning style, which is the ability to retain information in a way that is practical and adaptable. "Learning" is a skill that is not passive, and requires the same retention process you endured as a child, but now at a faster pace. With the advancement of technologies such as Cloud, AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), AI (artificial intelligence), and Infosec (information security), the way we work is changing rapidly. We have to be proactive about what we are learning and how quickly we apply our newly learned skills.

There are many variables that contribute to learning, and the optimum learning scenario will differ based on the individual preference, the topic of study, delivery method, and consequences.  Yes, "consequence" can be a motivator or stressor because some skills require exams to validate the required knowledge has been retained. The higher the stakes are for gaining a new skill, the more challenging it can be for the learner to process and apply it successfully.

If you have not assessed how you learn best, here are questions to get started:

  • What was the last skill you learned that you were able to apply regularly?
  • Was it a formal course or an informal arrangement?
  • How was the information delivered (online, in person, on demand, self-paced, video, podcast, book, e-course, etc.)?
  • How long did it take you to learn it?
  • What were the steps you took to retain the info?
  • How did you apply what you learned?
  • Was the process easy or difficult?
    • If difficult, how did you overcome the challenge(s)?
  • If you could change how you engage with new information to better suit your needs, what would this look like? 

Once you answer the questions above, you should have some sense of what you liked and disliked about the learning process you participated in. Use these details as your learning preference to ensure the type of training you select provides a foundation for success. Your level of interest in a specific topic area is also a big factor in your learning process. The less interested you are, the less likely you will retain the information. In the end, the pay off comes when the topic is interesting, the environment is engaging, AND you are committed to practicing your new skill. Even further, continuing to research, refine, and solidify your knowledge will take you from novice to expert.

If you uncover your specific formula to master learning, you can create a plan to gain (and apply) new skills regularly. 

Here are my top 5 reasons why "learning" is the next skill you should master:

5. Technology will continue to advance and change the way we work.

4. Jobs will require emerging skills for companies to stay relevant.

3. Higher salaries commensurate with higher level skills that are not easily obtained.

2. Employees enjoy their work more when they have the right skills for the job.

1. You take your skills wherever you go.

Not sure what to learn? We've got you covered, here are the top tech skills in 2018.

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