How Do You Learn?
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Thread: How Do You Learn?

  1. #1

    How Do You Learn?

    Ok, I want to ask a bit of an out-of-the-norm question just to see how colleagues approach this in their own environment/environments. It's a bit of an abstract question, the point being, I struggle with understanding the abstract.

    So to give you an idea of what I'm trying to ask --

    In my IT career so far, most of what I've done has focused on simply setting up and maintaining networks and computers/servers, with some application troubleshooting thrown in there. Lots of experience working with Windows stuff, Exchange stuff, networking stuff, etc.

    So at my new job, there's lots of database stuff going on, which is NOT my forte. I aced my database classes back in college with flying colors, but then never landed into a job that actually implemented what I learned, so I've lost at least 95% of the knowledge I gained from those studies. So anytime someone throws a question at me related to anything database related (for instance here it's questions regarding Navision more times than not), I tend to produce a rather blank stare in response.

    So what I'm starting to do is queue in on new terms I'm unfamiliar with when listening to people talk, or terms I haven't used in years and have since forgotten. For example, today I heard "SAP", "API", and "ODBC" thrown around in conversation between two other people here, and here we are back to my blank stare followed by intense wikipediaing.

    So here's a problem that crops up, and it simply boils down to how my mind works and the inherent weaknesses consequently produced. My mind likes to process info in a very structured manner, and I learn best that way. Start with point A, get it down solid, move to point B, eventually you reach Z and have a full scope understanding of what you needed to know. So after a conversation like the one referred to above, my brain does this --

    Q: Ok, so what's ODBC?
    A: "The ODBC specification offers a procedural API for using SQL queries to access da--"
    Q: Woah woah woah wait! What's API?
    A: "The software that provides the functionality described by an API is said to be an implementation of the API. The API itself is abstract, in that it specifies an interface and the behavior of the identifiers specified in that inter--"
    Q: Wait, stop! So what do you mean by abstract?
    A: "In computer science, abstraction is a mechanism and practice to reduce and factor out details so that one can focus on a few concepts at a time."
    Q: Ok, great...So what were you saying about API? And how does this all tie back into ODBC? Oh crap, and we haven't touched on SAP yet...


    As you can see, learning the above is no such process of going from A to B to C, but bouncing around learning a bunch of concepts then connecting them, which then messes with my brain. I want structure. Start me on Point #1 then point me to the next place to go so I can learn efficiently.

    And I think that's what intimidates a lot of people...a desire for a set linear structure in learning combined with sheer impatience. But nonetheless I want to broaden my mind to understand the arenas of IT that I have yet to venture into, such as this.

    So, hopefully I'm asking a question in a round-a-bout way that will help a lot of other newcomers here.

    Anyway, the bottom line is, how do you approach learning concepts that are broad and multifaceted? How does your brain process information, what is your learning style, how do you overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed? And ultimately, how successful are you with your learning methods?

  2. #2
    Member
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    Well, I am usually the one doing the teaching at work...

    However, when I do learn...

    I tend to sit there quietly, and ask questions that I know answers to to get a clarifying and solidifying answer. I feel that helps my understanding grow.

  3. #3
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    Everyone is different really, I learn best by asking questions as I go. Second to that I learn best by looking at reference material in something like a book but I do not like reading the whole thing just the parts I need to know..

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ouroboros's Avatar
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    Trial and error works best for me. It's probably not the most efficient route, but if I can make a few mistakes and then understand WHY they were mistakes, it's likely that that knowledge will contribute to the learning process in related areas, making the trial and error easier the next time around. Does that make sense?

    As far as HOW I learn/process information, I kind of take a 'branching' approach. I make sure that I have a solid grasp on a fundamental concept or process and make logical jumps both to more basic concepts and more advanced ones (usually at the same time) and see how they relate to each other. If the jump proves correct, I'll add it to my proven knowledge and jump again, usually laterally and try to relate that backwards to the proven knowledge. Wash, Rinse and Repeat until I can relate almost any point in a subset of information to any other point without fail. Like a big, nerdy spiderweb.

    As far as how it works for me...good so far. But it also helps that I don't get frustrated by much of anything.

    O
    "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem"

    "entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity."

    -Occam's Razor


  5. #5
    Only african to own a PC! Cider's Avatar
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    Excellent topic I think. I am starting to study alot in the IT field. How everyone got so far in studying IT, such as Nihil and the older guys - Im sure everyone would love to know how they studied.

    I assume trial and error has always been there
    The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.
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  6. #6
    Just Another Geek
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    What usually works for me, buy/lent a book, read, try, make mistakes, read more, try more, make more mistakes etc... I mainly learn by doing it.

    Never mind the fact I've been "doing it" for over 20 years now
    Oliver's Law:
    Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

  7. #7
    They call me the Hunted foxyloxley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cider
    Excellent topic I think. I am starting to study alot in the IT field. How everyone got so far in studying IT, such as Nihil and the older guys - Im sure everyone would love to know how they studied.

    I assume trial and error has always been there
    I believe nihil was of the OLD school of PC education [PC = Pre Computer ]
    hell, I know I was as for now, I read books, home study, and when I can afford it, I attend a training course to cram in as much as I can in the time alloted
    55 - I'm fiftyfeckinfive and STILL no wiser,
    OLDER yes
    Beware of Geeks bearing GIF's
    come and waste the day :P at The Taz Zone

  8. #8
    Jaded Network Admin nebulus200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ouroboros
    Trial and error works best for me. It's probably not the most efficient route, but if I can make a few mistakes and then understand WHY they were mistakes, it's likely that that knowledge will contribute to the learning process in related areas, making the trial and error easier the next time around. Does that make sense?

    As far as HOW I learn/process information, I kind of take a 'branching' approach. I make sure that I have a solid grasp on a fundamental concept or process and make logical jumps both to more basic concepts and more advanced ones (usually at the same time) and see how they relate to each other. If the jump proves correct, I'll add it to my proven knowledge and jump again, usually laterally and try to relate that backwards to the proven knowledge. Wash, Rinse and Repeat until I can relate almost any point in a subset of information to any other point without fail. Like a big, nerdy spiderweb.

    As far as how it works for me...good so far. But it also helps that I don't get frustrated by much of anything.

    O
    Ditto...IMHO you can't effectively learn the finer points of something until you understand the overall architecture of it...get the theory/terminology down pat and the other stuff IMO will come easier...

    In general, my background has been broad enough that I could skip the theory part; however, in the few cases I have stumbled across something entirely new, I have usually started with a book on the subject to get a broad view of everything and how it interconnects...once I am comfortable with how its supposed to work, then I start diving into the nitty gritty of it and trying to apply it to the problem that I am trying to solve...

    While I have been successful in the past with learning something on the fly without the theory, it has almost always been necessary to go back and look at it later...so far its worked extremely well for me...
    There is only one constant, one universal, it is the only real truth: causality. Action. Reaction. Cause and effect...There is no escape from it, we are forever slaves to it. Our only hope, our only peace is to understand it, to understand the 'why'. 'Why' is what separates us from them, you from me. 'Why' is the only real social power, without it you are powerless.

    (Merovingian - Matrix Reloaded)

  9. #9
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    I believe nihil was of the OLD school of PC education [PC = Pre Computer ]
    Quite, I go back to Kalamazoo and the old electro mechanical accounting machines such as NCR and Nixdorf

    As for learning, mine has been a mixture of formal training/courses, interactive learning courses, reading, and most importantly hands on experimentation.
    If you cannot do someone any good: don't do them any harm....
    As long as you did this to one of these, the least of my little ones............you did it unto Me.
    What profiteth a man if he gains the entire World at the expense of his immortal soul?

  10. #10
    Senior Member kingkong's Avatar
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    HI

    Well if i talk about myself then i should go back to school
    i realy had difficulties in learning scientific formulas "theoritical" but when it use to come for laboritries work experimentation and all i use to be in toppers

    where as if u take it in the sense of mathematics it use to be a peice of cake and my name always use to be in toppers

    from that i actually generated my talent in accounting and finally right now i m a accountant

    finally to the conclusion i have arised that i m good when it comes to the real problem site i wolud try to analyse and work on it hard and finally come to the solution of it

    so whenever i need to learn something i try to make it my problem and then it really turns up easy for me to learn about it
    Question is not "Why are you Online"
    Question is "Why are you Off line"

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