Meta-learning: the secret to rapid learning and growth in the age of technology.

What is meta-learning?

  1. Becoming familiar with yourself and your own individualized learning styles (this one differs from person to person and thus, is difficult to talk about at a generalized level). This involves learning how to optimize your learning process to most effectively fit with your learning style. This also deals with knowing your own limits and capabilities, but also not underestimating yourself, procrastinating, or giving up.
  2. Understanding the more generalized meta-learning knowledge that can help anyone to become a rapid learner. There are a number of strategies for meta-learning based in neuroscience that are proven to help us learn more quickly and increase our rate of learning with each new learning experience.

Why is meta-learning so powerful?

Jumpstart your learning and grow rapidly.

Learn to adapt quickly during the age of technology

The best meta-learning strategies and practices

How to approach learning about new topics

  1. Deconstruct the skill or topic that you are trying to learn about. This involves breaking down exactly what you are trying to learn how to do, and what you should be able to accomplish with this newly learned skill. This will enable you to take a very targeted approach to learning which can help you to reach this specific goal more quickly.
  2. Learn enough to self-correct. This point is especially important. When you are learning about something new (let's say learning to play an instrument for example), it’s important to get actual experience. It’s easy to fall into the trap of constantly reading and consuming learning content without putting new knowledge into practice, but this strategy is incredibly time-consuming and inefficient. It’s better to get enough knowledge about a topic so that you are able to put it into practice and learn from experience.
  3. Remove practice barriers. This involves taking away anything which is going to slow down your learning. That includes any technology you aren’t using for learning purposes (most importantly your phone) or anything else that you know is going to distract you. Learning efficiently requires you to get into a state of high focus which means that these kinds of external distractions will effectively disable your ability to learn quickly.
  4. Practice for at least 20 hours. This is the amount of time that it will take to get good at something at first. It's important not to give up before this point if you really want to learn about the topic you chose. In fact, the biggest barrier to overcome when learning about a new topic is emotional (its easy to get bored, think something is too hard, or give up). It’s important that when we get to these points, we get through them and continue practicing before we decide whether we like a topic. One thing to note is that as you get better and better at learning, this time frame will start to decrease.

1. The Pomodoro Technique

2. Exercise & Social Interaction

3. Test Yourself & Constantly Practice

4. A Meta Approach to Meta-Learning

5. Learn to Access & Use Meta-Learning Strategies for Each Field

My experience with meta-learning

My first experience with meta-learning:

  • I first started making use of meta-learning strategies (although I didn’t realize at the time) a few years ago when I started learning to program with Python. It took several days to learn the basics of the programming language, and it took weeks to get enough practice to become even slightly competent.
  • This was one of the first times where I stepped back to look at what I had learned and analyze what I could have done better. I realized that I was spending a lot of time learning the theory and syntax behind programming, but that I had waited far too long to start putting this into practice. Thus, I took away from this experience that is better to start practice as soon as you are able to.

Continuing to learn and trying to implement new strategies:

  • I continued to learn Python and decided to practice constantly by making projects. From this, I learned a field-specific meta-learning strategy to optimize learning to code which was to use the website Stack Overflow to help me solve any problems with code. This is an example of a meta-learning strategy specific to a field that would prove to be immensely valuable in the future.
  • I tried to teach myself to use a music production software called FL Studio. This is where I made use of my previous advice to get to practicing as early as possible. I watched a couple of YouTube videos on the software (I also learned here that YouTube is an excellent way to learn about new topics), and I immediately got to practicing. This made a noticeable difference as I was able to operate the software considerably faster than anything I had learned about in the past

Starting to become faster at learning in specific fields

  • After a couple of years of experience with coding, I decided to dive deep into more advanced areas like machine-learning. From here, I learned valuable strategies for learning like studying code from other sources that helped me to develop my coding abilities further by learning new libraries (basically just adding new capabilities to a programming language) for Python).
  • At this point, I also decided to restart learning to play the piano (I hadn’t played in fifth grade). This was where learnings started to compound as observations from learning the music production software FL Studio helped me to get back into piano.
  • I learned how to use a video editing software called Hitfilm which I was able to learn about more efficiently from learning about the FL Studio music software previously (I was able to learn through online sources like YouTube videos).
  • Eventually, I decided to learn a variety of different programming languages for full-stack web development and this is where I really started to see the benefits of meta-learning. After gathering experience learning about programming and various Python libraries, I was able to learn there three new programming languages (HTML/CSS, Javascript, and SQL) in a matter of two weeks. This was the most significant progress with meta-learning that I had made. The reason that this went so quickly was that I had found the optimal amount of time I needed to spend learning syntax before I could dive into practice.

My most important learning

Summary: The most important strategies and tips for meta-learning

  1. Deconstruct the topic that you are about to learn.
  2. Learn enough to self-correct and practice.
  3. Remove practice barriers to enable focused learning.
  4. Practice for at least 20 hours and overcome frustration.
  5. Make use of the Pomodoro technique.
  6. Use exercise and social interaction to solidify information.
  7. Test yourself and constantly practice.
  8. Practice learning new topics.
  9. Access and use learning strategies form specific fields.

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