I’m spending my day on a computer, working in marketing for a cybersecurity company. It’s always a bit weird when I think about all the time I am standing in front of a screen, reading hundreds of lines per day and not really remembering anything. I scroll faster than my brain can process and switch from one page to another. Should I be working on my digital learning process?
Yet, I am also a big fan of paper books, spend many hours per week reading, and I generally love learning new things. Unfortunately, it gets hard for me to really learn online. The temptation of social media, the difficulty to focus for an extended amount of time, the notifications always popping up on my screen.
If I should divide the use of my computer, I could say that I only use it for three different purposes:
Doing my job (which indeed involves learning, but I want to look deeper into many other topics)
Spending time on social media
Entertaining myself, especially with videos
To be completely honest, I am not proud of the use I’m making of such a powerful tool. I wanted to investigate the ways to improve my learning process with a computer.
After several investigations and personal experiences, these are my 7 tips for becoming better at spending quality time using technology.
Schedule and define goals
Being able to plan ahead a specific time I’m going to spend on a topic, and define what I want to learn. Is it going to be a chapter? Different exercises? Audio practice? If I know when and what I am going to study, it always makes it easier. Generally, I use my breakfast time on Monday morning to plan my week ahead and make sure I have space for these learning moments.
Relating Digital Learning to Offline Learning
Once I have learned a new skill or piece of knowledge, it is always beneficial to link digital learning with offline learning. There are many different forms to do it: Practicing on a piece of paper, looking for people with whom I can talk about the topic, and going to an exhibition related to the subject.
Having the possibility to reinforce what I just learned by making offline connections is a powerful way to retain the information.
Finding online groups of pairs
To have system support during an online learning process also helps to be more efficient. Thanks to technology, it is easier than ever to find people with whom we can learn and share on a specific subject.
Through forums or online groups, the possibility to exchange with other students makes the learning experience more concrete and also more efficient. There are people out there ready to help you or provide you with pieces of advice. And here’s an extra tip: In addition to students, it is also fascinating to look for mentors. People with more experience are a great asset. If offers a way to look into the future and concretize our goals.
There are excellent online teachers, ready to give you detailed and structured lessons. Nevertheless, as it has been proved that the brain doesn’t remember as good when it’s digital content versus information on paper. A good trick to avoid losing information and not taking advantage of the course is to take notes on paper. The simple way of writing essential details will increase the memory and learning process.
Training ourselves to do a single task
Multitasking is not really a positive thing when it comes to learning. In the era of distraction we’re living, it becomes even harder to focus on a single task without being distracted every minute.
Forcing ourselves to do one single thing at a time is the key to success to efficiency and productivity. It requires self-control and strictness, but it pays off very quickly.
To improve this skill, I suggest starting with small amounts of time: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. Until it becomes natural to be strictly dedicated to a single subject for an hour or more.
Reducing social media impact and digital noise
Social media are a fantastic opportunity to open a world of new possibilities. At the same time it can soak up all of our time and make us feel miserable at the end of the day.
As we said before, online groups can be a distinctive motivation factor to keep learning and learn better. However, when it comes to burying ourselves in a learning session, moving away, all kinds of social distraction is a necessity.
We know, these tools have been made to make us dependant on them, so it can really affect the learning process.
Looking for high-quality content
Finally, and this might be the most important, it is essential to look for high-quality content. Learning online from a not-so-good digital course might be very frustrating as well as demotivating for the future.
Personally, I’ll recommend Udemy, Skillshare, Coursera, and EdX. They have a lot of different courses on many various topics. If you’re looking for particular areas, you might also want to check out platforms only dedicated to your topic of interest.
And if you want to explore this topic further, I highly recommend the course “Learning how to learn” that lifts the veil on the mystery of the learning process.