In the Information Age, re-learn how to learn.

You may find posts about basic back stretches, how to cook s’mores, and how to be single and happy if you navigate through Facebook. You can also find experts talking about beauty advice or Youtubers teaching how to play the guitar if you go to Youtube.

However, most people never learn those stretching exercises, how to create s’mores, how to be happy being single, how to do good makeup, or how to play guitar better in the end.

Technology has given the world an abundance of information, but it hasn’t made people smarter. People do not become better thinkers and learners just by being exposed to data.

The fact is, most people have never learned how to learn properly.

People spend an average of 50 minutes every day on Facebook alone.[1]Integrating and adapting information is not the same as being exposed to it.

Even informal education, students swiftly gain knowledge in order to write papers and take examinations; nevertheless, translating that knowledge into wisdom that they can employ throughout their life is rare.
The brain’s potential is underutilized in traditional knowledge acquisition techniques.

We’ll forget that information if we don’t use it.

Related: Note-Taking Techniques That Will Change How You Retain Information

Taking in Knowledge— Then and Now

Because it’s so easy to be exposed to a lot of information every day, there’s a new way to apply knowledge nowadays. Apprenticeship or quick active application of skills were common learning strategies in the past. [2]

You’d probably start by looking for an instructor if you were trying to learn to ski before the Information Age. The expert skier would explain the equipment to you and serve as a mentor while you learned the mechanics of the sport.

You’d work hard to put what you’d learned into practice on your own time, but the majority of your learning took place on the slopes.

You’ll eventually be able to ski without the assistance of an instructor, and you’ll consider yourself a proficient and confident skier.

When you decide to learn to ski today, you spend hours scouring the internet for every ski-related blog post and article. You look at videos of people skiing, do some research on the best equipment, and join a Facebook group for winter sports fans.

After digging through these resources, you may feel like an expert on anything ski-related, but have you truly learned to ski? There’s a significant difference between reading about how to put on skis and actually doing it.

Today, the quality of knowledge is sacrificed for quantity.

There’s a disconnect between the information we consume and the knowledge we absorb. The human brain sends material from working memory to long-term memory as quickly as it can, but it can’t remember everything. [3]

It’s also fascinating to go on a quest for more knowledge. Most individuals go through Facebook on a regular basis in order to stay up with what’s going on in the world.

People are afflicted by the fear of missing out (FOMO), which prevents them from engaging in genuine learning.

Most people are up to date on breaking news and are sharing like crazy on Facebook and WhatsApp, but easy access to information is no substitute for deep learning achieved through effort and concentration.

Related: Learning Strategies for Auditory Learners

People have only applied a small portion of the readily available information in their daily lives.

How to Realistically Absorb and Apply Information

While it would be ideal to absorb and implement 100% of the material, this isn’t realistic. Perhaps only a few hyper-productive people are capable of achieving this degree of accomplishment.

Most of us, though, aren’t Albert Einstein, and we’re short on time. If we want the information to stick, we must be realistic in our approach.

If you want to remember information for a long time, you’ll have to be picky about what you take in. Getting knowledge from the internet without a plan is akin to trying to eat the entire buffet in one sitting.

Break down the overabundance of resources into easily digestible chunks so that the knowledge has time to sink in.

1. Get a brain filter — filter out information that won’t improve you.

A passive type of knowledge acquisition is scrolling through the internet. The amount of data available to us will always be more than our ability to process it. Focus on what you need to improve to filter the information you take in.

What do you need to know in order to be successful? You can pass over unrelated and distantly related information by taking this simple step.

You can alter the parameters of your filter as your knowledge and skills improve.

Returning to the skiing example, you create your filter by determining what you need to know about skiing right now. Are you attempting to figure out how to properly put on your skis? Do you know how to come to a complete halt on a slope?

It’s pointless to spend time studying advanced tricks if you’re still working on the fundamentals. Modify your filter once you’ve mastered the fundamentals so you can continue to improve your skills.

Related: 6 Scientifically Proven Ways To Learn How To Learn

2. Take information into the real world — do what you’ve read to confirm your learning.

Knowledge is useless unless it can be put to use. If you want to master a new skill, you’ll have to put what you’ve learned in your studies into practice.

You haven’t assimilated the ski-trick you saw on YouTube until you’ve tried it numerous times. It’s yours when you can land the trick without thinking about it or recollect information without struggling.

Getting information from a computer screen to the actual world isn’t always straightforward. There’s a good chance you’ll mess up the first time you try something new.

You’re going to fall when you’re learning to ski. You’ll almost certainly fail to make a flawless turn, and even if you do, you’ll likely compare yourself to the other skiers on the slope on that particular day.

Allowing your brain to weave a self-defeating narrative or giving up when you fall hinders you from learning. Making mistakes is an essential aspect of learning. [4]

Related: What Is Learning by Doing And Why Does It Work?

Practice, get feedback; and practice, and get feedback.

It’s great to get into the practice of applying what you’ve learned, but you can only accomplish so much on your own. To advance your skills to the next level, you’ll need the help of others.

You can start a feedback loop by taking a self-assessment to identify where you are in the learning process, but if you want to advance further, you need to seek feedback from others.[5]

It’s all too easy to stop at the self-assessment stage and tell yourself that you’re doing everything right, but you have no idea what you’re missing out on.

Other people’s perspectives can assist you to figure out where you should focus your learning efforts next so that you can keep developing.

You may be able to process instructions at the moment as you begin to develop new talents, but if you do not practice, you will not internalize the knowledge. You’ll need to practice your activities or processes until they become second nature.

When learning a new word, for example, you must go through the lengthy process of searching it up, repeating the definition, and applying it in a phrase.

You will forget the word if you do not use it, but if you use it frequently enough, it will come to memory easily.

3. Stay alert to what to learn next — avoid wasting time on unnecessary information.

You will retain more information if you target your searches rather than randomly scrolling.

Take advantage of opportunities to reflect on what you’ve learned so far. You’ll not only feel better about your success, but you’ll also be able to apply what you’ve learned to a new task.

To return to our skiing scenario, pretend you’ve mastered the fundamentals of movement. You have the ability to turn smoothly and stop when necessary.

What’s the next thing you need to learn? What impact will your previous skiing knowledge have on how you approach new approaches and challenges?

Related: Critical Lessons To Learn When You Feel Like a Failure

Knowledge Is Not Meant to Be Known, but to Be Applied

To truly understand anything, you must engage with it on a regular basis while providing ample opportunity for self-reflection and objective evaluation. Knowledge is built up over time.

The greatest thinkers and athletes of our time didn’t get such by surfing social media or reading books; they put in the effort to make sense of the data that was pertinent to their studies.

True education isn’t always simple. As you take on new problems and wade through the ephemera of the Digital Age, you’ll face difficulties.

You can traverse the wealth of resources to build meaningful connections if you can focus your efforts and make conscious choices about your learning.

Reference:

  1. New York Times: Facebook Has 50 Minutes of Your Time Each Day. It Wants More.

2. The Atlantic: Why Germany Is So Much Better at Training Its Workers

3. National Bernstein Network Computational Neuroscience: How is Information Transferred Into Long-Term Memory

4. Teach Thought: 10 Ways to Honor Mistakes in the Learning Process

5. Fast Company: Why You Hate Getting Feedback but Still Need More of It

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