Three tips on how to design learning for yourself

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Whenever we’ve discussed design on the TTRO blog, we’ve always focused on designing for others. But what about using those design processes for yourself in your own personal capacity?

As a part-time student, my experience with information design and work in the e-learning industry has taught me many skills that I often apply to my studies. In the process of producing visual communications, I’ve uncovered equal amounts about my own learning abilities as I have about others.

I’m not saying that everyone needs to dive, head-first, into information design and join the industry; rather I want to cultivate curiosity about your own learning habits and affinities in comprehension and knowledge retention. Knowing this will assist you in tackling your own educational bumps in the road; and education, as we all know, is a lifelong journey.

Self-discovery is an important part of one’s life and one of the most beneficial aspects of this journey is discovering how you learn.

Cognitive load

Think of cognitive load as your intellectual appetite. How large are the ‘meals’ you serve for your brain? We’ve talked about cognitive load before but it’s good to find out what your own cognitive load is. You probably already have an idea of what it is. Some people digest large chunks of information, while others, like myself, need to cut that information up into tiny digestible chunks. You might need to break information into small parcels, draw infographics or colour code valuable information.

Learning styles

You might find that you can digest more information in a different format. Let’s imagine that a book is a salad and a video is a pasta dish.

Seriously, just humour me.

You might find that you can ‘digest’ more ‘salad’ than ‘pasta’. Your brain might prefer a carb-free diet!

At the moment there’s a lot of controversy regarding learning styles in schools, but that’s more focused on educational practice. I am rather supporting it as a useful yet informal tool for self-education; I find it’s best to cycle through a variety of formats rather than growing accustomed to only one.

Time of day

Are you a rooster or a night owl? Do you like working in the morning or in the evening? This was actually a big eye-opener – geddit? – for me. I work at my best very early in the morning. I get up early on the weekends to make sure that I can give the best hours of my day to focussing on my studies. You might find that you work better at any other time of the day, and that’s fine, there’s no wrong time to be studying; as long as you’re not stressing yourself out.

Self-discovery is an important part of one’s life and one of the most beneficial aspects of this journey is discovering how you learn. It’s a fundamental step to eventually discovering what you’ve learnt and why, but those are bigger questions that only you would know the answers to.


The Guardian: No Evidence to Back Idea of Learning Styles. 

Author: Simon Pienaar

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