Have you tried to learn about Blockchain or Artificial Intelligence and find yourself floating in a sea of unfamiliarly terms and concepts that baffle your comprehension? The cognitive demand in almost every industry has increased exponentially and how you understand and apply these new tech concepts is tied directly to your ability to learn and your ability to advance your career.

Dr Scott Bolland is the founder of New Dawn Technologies, a high-tech software company aiming to revolutionize education through the use of artificial intelligence. Has pointed out that new advances in neurosciences have given us insight into the learning process.
Watch the entire YouTube video but here is gist.

“…If we look at the learning centers of the brain they release endorphins with an inverted u-shape with respect to familiarity so things that are too familiar are boring things that are too unfamiliar are aversive but things on the periphery of our knowledge that extend our capabilities are actually highly pleasurable not only our endorphins released making learning enjoyable but dopamine is also released making learning highly addictive.”

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What does this mean?
Active learning triggers endorphins. We engage in active learning when we find the right mix of information that anchors new concepts to familiar ones. If you are frustrated in your attempts to learn it is because you are hitting the wall of unfamiliar facts and concepts. If you understand this learning engagement curve you can frame what you need to learn in terms of familiarity and build a path to learning. That which is relatable and familiar, but also engaging, produces the endorphins rush of active learning.

Bolland extrapolates this observation to Facebook
“…who’s checked Facebook today so if everybody wrote the same things every single day on Facebook it would be too boring and be too familiar and you wouldn’t do it if it was written in some sort of foreign language that you didn’t understand to be too unfamiliar and you wouldn’t do it Facebook is pleasurable and addictive because you’re always getting new information on the periphery of your knowledge you’re always learning and it’s this natural thirst for knowledge which is how [we] naturally learn and how competencies naturally merge…”

To maximize engagement and trigger active learning, I recommend the Feynman Technique to build both engagement and explore the edges of familiarity.
The Feynman Technique is a mental model that was coined by Nobel-prize winning physicist Richard Feynman. The Feynman Technique is a formula for learning that ensures you understood something better than everyone else.

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Step 1: Write the name of the concept. You can use pretty much any concept or idea.
Step 2: Explain the concept in your own words as if you were teaching it to someone else. Challenge yourself to work through an example or two as well to ensure you can put the concept into action. Take this even to the point of pretending your teaching the concept to a child.
Step 3: Review your explanation and identify the areas where you didn’t know something or where you feel your explanation is shaky. Once you’ve pinpointed them, go back to the source material, your notes, or any examples you can find in order to shore up your understanding.
Step 4: If there are any areas in your explanation where you’ve used lots of technical terms or complex language, challenge yourself to re-write these sections in simpler terms. Make sure your explanation could be understood by someone without the knowledge base you believe you already have.

You can get a rush of endorphins if you use the active learning techniques to learn about new concepts and even Blockchain.

To discover more about learning how to learn, visit www.learning-frames.com

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