Self-learning – fast and effective – is one of our main areas of interest along with efficient personal finance management, developing profitable online businesses and successful communication.
Today it’s time to inaugurate a series of articles on self-learning. These articles are also previews of online courses and workshops, so keep your eyes open for our course announcements if you’re inspired to find out more!
Whether you’re creating courses about business, finance, or healthy eating, it’s your responsibility to design an attractive educational process for your audience.
Therefore, as an online course creator, you must become an expert in didactics, modern teaching methods, and maximising the effectiveness of the educational process.
In this text, we’ll focus on the art of learning. The more you know about this topic, the better equipped you will be to design successful online courses.
Every user who buys your online course hopes to quickly and effectively learn enough material to solve their problems and achieve their goals. Your role is to meet those expectations and design your course in such a way that the learning process is as efficient and rewarding as possible.
From behaviorists to cognitivists and structuralists to transformationalists
How we learn has occupied the attention of scientists, researchers and thinkers since the dawn of time.
The body of work in this area can be boiled down to three scientific disciplines: behaviorism, cognitive science and structuralism. Equally important is the concept of transformative learning, which I will cover in more detail.
Behaviorists believe that the essence of effective learning is the development of productive habits and behaviours. Hence the extensive use of punishments and rewards in the educational system. The result of applying this knowledge is a specific approach to explaining the biological mechanisms of the learning process.
Cognitivists, on the other hand, pay more attention to the complex activities of the human mind in the learning process – with particular emphasis on memory functions.
Structuralists assert that context plays a key role in learning new things: what we already know and how we can integrate new knowledge with knowledge that has already been acquired. This approach also opens up the field of individual learning and educational programs tailored to our needs.
Finally, transformationalists look into our beliefs and model of the world, examining whether we might need to make necessary changes in order to acquire new skills.
To these well-known and respected approaches, I would add the issue of personal motivation: why do we learn something, why is it important and necessary? Positive emotions such as enjoyment of learning new things, curiosity, satisfaction and cooperation play a significant role in how successfully we learn..
Plan your courses to include as wide a spectrum of approaches as possible.
How to learn effectively? How do you acquire new skills quickly, efficiently, and regularly?
There are several scenes in the movie The Matrix where characters learn new, complex and sophisticated skills at the speed of software installed right in their mind.
Imagine if we could learn a new language at a super-advanced level, develop investing skills, or master public speaking at such impressive speed.
Wouldn’t that be great? And while The Matrix is a sci-fi movie, it’s worth keeping such radical solutions in mind when designing future online courses and educational projects. Despite innovation and technological advances, the road to the ideal educational process is certainly a long way off.
Why shouldn’t you become the next incredible innovator in education?
How long does it really take us to learn new things? It’s often a long and arduous trek with a mass of unexpected difficulties. Just as often, we give up on learning something we care about because of a lack of persistence.
To understand the didactic process well, let’s have a look at the learning pyramid.
In the learning process, always aim to fully engage your mind. Reading is a phenomenally powerful habit. Watching educational videos is at a premium. Nevertheless, learning experts insist that practicing new skills is the real key to success.
It’s important to encourage active learning in every lesson of an online course, for example by assigning tasks, asking questions and urging users to interact and share comments.
Learning styles – different approaches
In 1992, researchers Neil D. Fleming and Coleen E. Mills first used the acronym VARK to describe the four main learning styles:
Visual. Charts, graphs and various visual aids enhance learning.
Auditory. The ideal way to learn is by listening.
Reading. Learning which is based on reading and writing.
Kinesthetic. Participatory and activity-based learning.
A major advance in understanding learning styles was the research of David Kolb, later adapted by Peter Honey and Alan Mumford.
Honey and Mumford distinguished four learning styles: activist/active, theorist/theoretical, pragmatist/pragmatic, and reflective. To augment the learning process, each person should have a thorough understanding of his or her learning style and become familiar with the broader context of each approach.
Activists learn by doing. They love brainstorming, discussions, competitions and workshops.
Theorists must first understand the system and theory behind an issue. Consequently, they feel comfortable in a world of models, statistics and data from which to draw conclusions and generalizations.
Pragmatists value the knowledge that can be translated into practical action. They learn best when they appreciate how new information relates to practical application, for example through case studies and experiments.
Finally, reflective people are those who like to observe and analyse the past and tend to stay on the sidelines. They devote a lot of time to reflection and insight and value coaching or other forms of feedback from others.
Honey and Mumford’s model shows how creatively and artfully we can approach learning theory.
However, most of the population (50 to 70%) tends to use multiple learning styles. This is worth keeping in mind, as our learning styles often evolve as we gain new experiences and grow as individuals.
To think about:
Which is your preferred learning style? How are you going to incorporate different learning styles into your online courses? Which ones do you need to understand better to effectively build them into your courses?
Combining different learning styles
Every day, according to various data, we have up to 80,000 thoughts. Can you control this incredible storm? Can you form all of these thoughts into shapes and patterns? Yes, but it is an extremely difficult task requiring a deep knowledge of how the mind works, as well as iron discipline and determination.
The work of the eminent Canadian scientist Steven Pinker entitled “How the Mind Works” will be helpful in this regard.
Pinker discusses a whole host of intriguing questions about how we think and what the purpose of our thinking is. He also explores how evolution has shaped key features of the way we interpret reality and the resulting strategies we have developed to survive in, and eventually control, a hostile world.
He draws inspiration for his reflections mainly from two sources: the so-called computational theory of mind and natural selection.
Each of us lives in a separate universe
In Carol Dweck’s 2006 work “Mindset”, there are very useful discussions of the growth mindset and fixed mindset. Each of these mindsets is a completely different universe.
One, the growth mindset, has a fascination with challenges, treats so-called failures as feedback necessary for learning, and possesses a proactive, dynamic attitude. By contrast, in the fixed mindset, progress is not worth the effort or the risk – it’s better to stay in the safe majority and “keep your head down”.
Which universe we occupy is largely a matter of our personal choice. In short, do you want to successfully learn new skills and discover your talents? Then open your mind and set yourself up very consciously for growth.
To think about:
How are you going to encourage your users to adopt the idea of an open mind?
Does the fact that we think a lot mean that we understand anything?
In 2002, Israeli psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize for his work on how we make decisions, the role of biased thinking and the achievements of behavioral economics. His book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” sheds new light on the two systems that categorize our thinking:
System 1 – quick, intuitive and emotional.
System 2 – careful, much slower and uses logic.
In the first system, we use simplifications and stereotypes to quickly form an opinion about an issue.
In the second, we dig into the problem as deeply as possible and dive into a complex reality.
To think about:
What might be the implications of the two systems of thinking for your courses?
In an online course, it is beneficial to provide both detailed, carefully selected knowledge as well as short summaries that highlight the most important content.
Use your head – map your thoughts
Every mention of effective learning invariably brings back my memories of the “Use Your Head” course I took in 1990 in Kraków. It was then that I fell in love with modern, non-standard (according to the official education system) methods of learning, such as mind mapping by Tony Buzan.
This extremely simple yet powerful method doesn’t require the use of any expensive teaching tools. All you need is a piece of paper and a pen. You write your main idea in the middle of the sheet of paper and then draw branches radiating out in all directions. Each branch contains a different thought that helps create cause-and-effect sequences in your mind. You can write, draw, add stickers, and get creative in any way you can. Have fun! Education can – and often should – be fun. This method will benefit both you, as a course creator, and your users.
Motivate your users!
Can we learn effectively without motivation and healthy self-esteem?
Motivation to learn is fundamental. Your course should reflect this truth as often as possible. When you are properly motivated, you can learn any new skill and achieve the ambitions that are important to you.
Long-term motivation comes from a profound awareness of life’s goals. If I know what I want and why I want to achieve it, my motivation will be strong and stable. Add to this the care of daily motivation which comes from, for example, reading uplifting material, maintaining a positive internal dialogue and building up your own convictions.
How to be productive
Have you ever wondered what would make you successful at what you do? What would help you reach the highest levels of excellence?
Perfection is determined by psychological factors. Prominent thinkers suggest that there are seven critical elements of excellence: commitment, belief, full focus, positive images, mental readiness, distraction control and constructive evaluation.
These elements combine to form a “circle of excellence”. If you’d like to read a little more about this, I refer you to The Wheel of Excellence.
A slightly different approach is presented by Brendon Burchard, one of the best personal trainers of our time. If you are keen to find out why some people succeed faster than others, and what makes them find happiness in life and work, I encourage you to explore High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard
See for yourself that success and happiness can be achieved by any of us. The daily work to reach these goals is generally quite demanding, but the striking impact on learning outcomes is well worth the effort.
Good patterns of motivation and high productivity are needed both by your course users and by you, in the process of acquiring new skills and accumulating the knowledge necessary to consistently create better and better online courses.
TIM, or Transformation – Illumination – Mastery
At The Manka Academy, we’d like to add our modest contribution to the development of potent tools for learning new skills effectively.
Our method is called TIM, or Transformation – Illumination – Mastery.
Transformation is the stage that follows a decision to learn something new. It’s a very complex skill, e.g. in such a multi-dimensional matter as starting your own business.
The transformation takes at least a few months, and sometimes it can even take a few years. If you have an existing job and want to start your own business, you may first have to change a lot of perceptions and beliefs about work, decision-making, responsibility, leadership, creativity, emotional intelligence, goal achievement and risk management.
Changing beliefs is just the prelude to learning new skills. For business, this means taking an experimental approach , which will inevitably expose you to frequent (but necessary) failures and difficulties. This is the only way to succeed in business; there are no shortcuts.
Business generally requires versatile skills and has little to do with the cult of specialization characteristic of corporate culture.
Illumination is the moment when you realize you can do it! It may be your first contract in a new business – significant enough to make you confident about the future of the venture. It could also be your first sale as you learn to manage the process over the phone. If you’re a budding blogger, it could be your first recognition in an important ranking or an exponential increase in subscribers to your newsletter. If you’re running a tech startup, the moment of illumination is, for example, your first investor that enables you to scale and grow dynamically.
And Mastery is a never-ending journey leading to continuous and systematic improvement of your skills. First successes, even major ones, are not a sign to slow down or a signal to become complacent. These achievements are simply proof that you’re moving in the right direction, and that now’s the time for more sustainable, long-term growth.
To think about:
How can you use the TIM method both for your own development and to more productively grow the skills of your online course users?
Strive for excellence
Your brain is a muscle. If you exercise it, you’ll soon see ever-improving results. Your brain never loses its ability to learn. In the 21st century, new technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality are an integral part of thinking about learning.
Remember, though, that modern tools are just tools. Facades. The essence of learning is, to some extent, the same as it was two thousand years ago.
Learning requires an understanding of the psychological models – stereotypes, beliefs, images, and assumptions – that underlie the structure of our minds and determine how we interpret reality and ourselves.
The science of how we learn
Improving the efficiency, speed and quality of the learning process leads to excellent results. You can increase the speed and value of learning by up to three or five times. If you know how parameters including memorization, concentration, motivation, creativity, stimulation or self-discipline work, you’ll avoid common mistakes and reduce the time spent “over the books”. Effective learning is not only absorbing, storing and reproducing knowledge. It is, above all, the ability to navigate through the maze of information.
The academic form of learning is suitable for only 30% of people, while the remaining 70% prefer other learning styles.
Learning is a skill. A skill that can and should be persistently developed to get better results, live more fully, achieve more ambitious goals and simply enjoy life! Think about how you think!
Success in any discipline is a matter of purpose, systematic work and of course taking a chance on the ability to create it. Talent or aptitude alone is not enough to achieve ambitious goals.
So remember that the key to business and financial success is action and daily application of the knowledge gained in practice.
Key points to remember
As an online course author, you are responsible for carefully and attractively managing the learning process.
The way we learn is described by four major concepts: behaviorist, cognitivist, structural, and transformational. Try to creatively combine the different concepts since most of us learn in very versatile ways.
Another way to classify learning styles is the popular acronym VASK. It describes four styles: visual, auditory, reading-based, and kinesthetic.
Another useful classification is: activist/active, theorist/theoretical, pragmatist/pragmatic, and reflective.
To enhance the learning process, each person should have a deep understanding of their learning style and be familiar with the broader context of each approach. Your role as course creator is to introduce as many learning options as possible.
The more active and engaging the form of learning, the better the results.
Motivation is key to the speed and value of learning.
The open mind helps in the effectiveness of learning, while the so-called closed mind always stands in the way.
The better we understand how we think, the more successfully we learn.
The system we’ve developed at The Manka Academy is TIM, which assumes that anyone who wants to efficiently achieve new skills goes through three phases: transformation, illumination and mastery.
Use modern learning methods such as mind maps in your courses. Format content in a way that makes information easy to absorb (highlighting, summaries, etc.).
We are an e-learning company specializing in four areas:
First class financial planning.
Growing a profitable online business.
Successful communication (sales, negotiations, persuasion, and public speaking).
We deliver these skills through live and recorded online courses, online workshops, and individual programs such as coaching and mentoring.
Do you want to start or grow a profitable online business faster? At The Manka Academy, we run individual online programs for those who want to start their business or enhance growth. Let’s meet and talk about your business ambitions.
You can book your convenient Zoom or call appointment here.
Tag:auditory, behaviorists, cognitivists, enhance the learning process, high performance, kinesthetic, Learning styles, memory, Motivation to learn, productivity, reading-based, Self-education, self-learning, structuralists, the learning pyramid, TIM, Transformation - Illumination - Mastery (TIM), transformationalists, Use your head, VASK, visual