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Building a Learning System

Building a Learning System

Part of being a developer is the need to consistently learn, but it can get overwhelming quickly. You’ve probably got a pile of tutorials you want to read, a long Google doc of technologies to check out, or maybe a collection of video courses gathering digital dust. How do you know what to spend time on? How do you make sure you’re learning effectively? Most importantly, how do you actually start crossing things off of that seemingly endless list of what to learn? In this talk, I’ll share with you what’s been working for me as a self-taught developer turned developer advocate. We’ll talk through the need for a learning system, how to build one customized to your own style of learning, and how to use your learning system to produce measurable results that can help you in your career.

Sam Julien

August 19, 2020
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  1. Building a Learning System
    Leveling Up Predictably and Repeatably

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  2. My Suspiciously Familiar Plight as a Dev Advocate

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  3. How can I consistently learn useful, practical stuff
    without getting burned out?

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  4. Top Take-Aways
    The value of a systematic approach to learning
    Ingredients to predictable and repeatable growth
    Practical tips on building your learning system

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  5. @samjulien
    Sam Julien
    samjulien.com
    Sr. Developer Advocate Engineer at Auth0
    GDE & Angular Collaborator
    UpgradingAngularJS.com, Thinkster, & egghead
    @samjulien

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  6. Feedback Welcome

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  7. The Need for a Learning System

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  8. Learning as a Developer
    Overwhelming to know what to learn
    Difficult to cross things off the list
    Unclear what’s useful (lack of context)

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  9. Don’t think of dev as a dictionary to memorize.

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  10. Think like an explorer.

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  11. Wandering vs Exploring

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  12. You make less progress wandering aimlessly.

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  13. One reason for this is that we’re programmed to
    seek comfort and familiarity.

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  14. Comfort is the enemy of growth.

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  15. @samjulien
    Systems > Motivation

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  16. ⚠ Comfort !== Self Care!

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  17. @samjulien
    “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall
    to the level of your systems.”
    James Clear, Atomic Habits

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  18. Qualities of an Effective
    Learning System

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  19. @samjulien
    Good news! If you’re working in a dev job right now,
    you’ve already got some version of this in place.

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  20. Predictable and repeatable growth

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  21. What causes us to grow?

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  22. We grow by doing challenging things
    quickly and getting feedback.

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  23. We grow by doing challenging things
    quickly and getting feedback.

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  24. Doing Challenging Things Quickly
    Trackable
    Measurable
    Production-Focused

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  25. We grow by doing challenging things
    quickly and getting feedback.

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  26. Getting Feedback
    Learning in Groups
    Learning in Public
    Does it work?

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  27. Accommodates Different
    Depths of Learning

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  28. Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy
    Source: https://medium.com/@theo_dawson/blooms-taxonomy-vcol-the-lectical-scale-d7851729ab2b

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  29. Source: https://www.winstonk12.org/10/Content2/834

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  30. Works with Your Style of Learning

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  31. Components of a Learning System

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  32. This can and will look different for you! Focus on the
    concepts. If you don’t think the same way I do, that’s
    totally awesome. Think of these as signposts.

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  33. One “inbox” for each learning area

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  34. Regular review process

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  35. “Heavy lift” vs “slow burn”

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  36. Reliable project management system

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  37. Areas vs. Projects

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  38. “Learn JavaScript” vs. “Display my name on the page.”

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  39. Identify the smallest unit of work
    you can get done and do it fast!

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  40. Then repeat.

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  41. Stuck? Break it down smaller.

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  42. Remember: small = doable!

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  43. Stuck? Zoom out a level.

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  44. I need to…
    build a system with it or fit it into an existing system.
    solve a problem with it.
    do something small with it.
    do literally anything with it.
    Zooming Out While Learning a Framework

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  45. The learning is in the speed of action.

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  46. It’s not a failure, it’s a test!

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  47. Three Tools
    Scratchpad, task manager, knowledge system

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  48. Scratch Pad
    Examples: Notepad++, Google Docs, Drafts
    Look for: speed, ease of use, ability to export

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  49. Task Manager
    Examples: OmniFocus, Things, Google Keep
    Look for: works with your brain, ability to add context/tags

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  50. Knowledge Base
    Examples: Evernote, Roam, Notion, Foam
    Look for: cross-linking, collections, multimedia

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  51. The Learning Snapshot

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  52. The Learning Snapshot
    Organized by Area
    Anchor Resource Progress
    Ancillary Resources
    Project Progress
    All Notes in One Place

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  53. The Learning Snapshot
    Drafts for quick notes
    Notion for storing and tracking
    OmniFocus for projects and tasks

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  54. ⚠ Don’t over-engineer too quickly.

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  55. Quick Recap: Strategies
    Think like an explorer
    Action + Speed + Feedback = Growth
    Systems > Motivation

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  56. Quick Recap: Tactics
    One inbox per learning area
    Project management system
    Review process

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  57. Quick Recap: Tools
    Scratchpad
    Knowledge base
    Task manager

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  58. samj.im/ls-talk
    @samjulien

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  59. samj.im/ls-talk
    Thank you!
    @samjulien

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