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Learning how to learn

Learning how to learn

As developers, we are constantly faced with new things to learn. New versions of languages, new tooling, new best practices, and so on. How do you cope with it all? In this talk, I'll get a bit meta and talk about learning how to learn. We like our code to be efficient, so why shouldn't our learning be efficient as well?

Joel Clermont

March 02, 2013
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  1. Learning How to Learn
    Joel Clermont
    @jclermont
    Monday, March 4, 13

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  2. Shameless
    Self-Promotion
    • Programming since 1982
    • Lifelong independent learner
    • PHP, C# and Ruby
    • Milwaukee PHP user group
    Monday, March 4, 13

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  3. Why are you here?
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  4. You want to learn
    • Time marches on
    • Constant learning is essential
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  5. Your ability to learn == Success
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  6. How much can you learn in . . .
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  7. How much can you learn in . . .
    30 - 45 minutes?
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  8. How much can you learn in . . .
    30 - 45 minutes?
    a half-day workshop?
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  9. Sheep dip
    • One size fits all
    • Alien environment
    • Short-term benefit
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  10. Did I just tell you this talk is pointless?
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  11. Plutarch
    The mind is not a vessel to be filled,
    but a fire to be kindled
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  12. Understand your brain
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  13. Understand your brain
    Read the source!
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  14. L-mode
    Verbal
    Analytical
    Logical
    Linear
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  15. R-mode
    Holistic
    Intuitive
    Spatial
    Synthetic
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  16. Technique 1
    Pair Programming
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  17. Why is this useful?
    • Humans are excellent mimics
    • Driver can be in L-mode, navigator in R-mode
    • Study of children solving problems with gears [1]
    [1] Daniel L. Schwartz. The emergence of abstract representations in dyad
    problem solving. Journal of the Learning Sciences, (4):321-354, 19
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  18. Technique 2
    Learn Deliberately
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  19. SMART
    • Specific
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  20. SMART
    • Specific
    • Measurable
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  21. SMART
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
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  22. SMART
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Relevant
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  23. SMART
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Relevant
    • Time-boxed
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  24. Technique 3
    Read Deliberately
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  25. Take notes
    • Use a mind map
    • Draw it by hand (no fancy computer tool)
    • Revise and reorganize it
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  26. Technique 4
    Test Driven Learning
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  27. Leverage your brain’s wiring
    • Forcing yourself to recall a fact makes it more permanent
    • Every read is a write
    • New connections and relationships are formed
    • Spaced interval best
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  28. Technique 5
    Learn by Teaching
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  29. Technique 6
    Keep a Positive Attitude
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  30. Brains don’t like stress
    • Being happy makes you a better learner [1]
    • The opposite is also true
    • Belief affects reality [2]
    • Researchers taught a blind man to see with his tongue [3]
    [1] A Neuropsychological Theory of Positive Affect and Its Influence on Cognition
    [2] Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
    [3] The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of
    Brain Science
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  31. Technique 7
    Experiment
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  32. Involve all your senses
    • Why’s book has a soundtrack
    • “Use of LSD for Computer Programming”
    • Build to learn, don’t learn to build
    • Logo
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  33. Technique 8
    Fail Early and Often
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  34. You must unlearn what you have learned
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  35. Technique 9
    Relax, but Stay Focused
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  36. Another way of saying the brain dislikes stress
    • A looming deadline is bad for cognition
    • Trust me, you do not thrive under pressure [1]
    • Relaxed, but concentrated focus
    • Avoid multitasking. You can’t do it anyways.
    [1] Bill Breen. The 6 myths of creativity.
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  37. Next steps
    • http://pragprog.com/book/ahptl
    • 40% off use code mwphp-ahptl
    Copyright 2008 Andy Hunt
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  38. Additional Resources
    • Leon Gersing’s talk at Madison Ruby 2012
    http://confreaks.com/videos/1104-madisonruby2012-gonzo-exploration-of-
    culture-innovation-and-the-weird-in-software
    • Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby
    http://mislav.uniqpath.com/poignant-guide/
    • http://www.supermemo.com
    • Ask me questions on Twitter @jclermont
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  39. https://joind.in/8196
    Thank you!
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