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Home I feel like learning is not enough. How can I help myself use what I am learning?

I feel like learning is not enough. How can I help myself use what I am learning?


What do we do with all the information we come across on a daily basis? Do they have a purpose? We may agree with what game designer and writer Christopher said. “Knowledge without application is like a book that is never read.” 

Learning about new things, ideas and concepts is all well and good, but is it our goal to be able to make use of them in order to benefit our lives in one way or another? 

What is “application”? 

According to Fink’s model of Significant learning, application means learning to do a new action. Meanwhile, Blooms defines it as using one’s knowledge in a different situation.

I remember asking myself a few times when I was a student learning about theories and concepts in school. “In what way will I use these things in real life?” or “Are these things even useful to me later on?” 

If you are someone who wants to take your learning to a deeper and more meaningful level, these strategies are for you. 

  • Make objectives clear at the start. 

Before starting to study ideas and concepts, teachers have to make the learning objectives and expectations clear. When we understand the purpose of learning information, and anticipate how we can use it in the future, we become more engaged in the moment. 

  • Focus on the core principles behind the learning. 

Knowing the “big why” behind minute details allows us to tie up small pieces of information to the bigger picture. We are able to grasp their relationships, functions, and how they relate to each other. This makes our knowledge more flexible and it is easier to draw insights from. 

For example, when learning books upon books worth of information, spending more time understanding “why” things happen before the “what”, “where”, “when” and “how” they happen gives us more motivation to retain the information. 

  • Practice through problem-solving. 

Memorizing and understanding information does not guarantee application. We need to be able to differentiate, classify, categorize, and organize the information in a way that can help us use them for problem-solving.

  • Make collaboration part of exercises. 

Theories on learning suggest that true learning engagement happens when learning and application happens in a social setting. They learn to use their knowledge to give feedback, and brainstorm concepts and insights. 

  • Aim for more self-directed learning. 

As we get older, we want to practice more autonomy in our decision-making, including the way and how we learn. The beauty of this information age is the availability of many modes of learning. We can take short courses for a more formal approach to learning, or learn on our own with the guidance of experts. We can easily access free videos or affordable online courses on the Internet. The more we exercise self-directed learning, we increase our responsibility for our own learning and how we use it. 

In all of these strategies, you will notice that success in applying our knowledge does not depend on passive learning only. It takes intention and consistent exertion of effort. This is where we see meaningful results from our knowledge. 

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I feel like learning is not enough. How can I help myself use what I am learning?
Brandon Resasco