Course info
Jan 1, 2014
1h 35m

Would you write code without a design? Build hardware without a schematic? Configure a server without a plan? Of course not. Yet, how many of us learn technology without any planning, choosing resources at random in the hope that one of them will be worthwhile? This is horribly inefficient, and worse, can leave critical holes in your knowledge and skills. In this course you'll learn how to design a plan for learning any technology effectively and efficiently based on your own needs and goals.

About the author
About the author

Dan Appleman is a well known author, software developer, and speaker. Currently the CTO of Full Circle Insights, he is the author of numerous books, ebooks, and online courses on various topics (technology and other). His latest book is "Advanced Apex Programming" - Personal Website

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Section Introduction Transcripts
Section Introduction Transcripts

The World Has Changed - and That's No Cliche
Learning Technology in the Information Age. In this course, I intend to change the way you look at learning technology and education in general. I expect many of you will discover that the way you are currently learning technology is shockingly inefficient and that many of your assumptions about how to best learn technology are completely wrong. Now these are strong statements and you may be ready to dismiss them out of hand. After all, you've been learning technology all along, you've been working in the field, you've been getting good grades in your classes, you have certification. Take a moment and think back at the last technology you learned. Why did you bother? Did you think strategically and evaluate whether the benefits of learning that technology justified the effort? When you started, did you take the time to plan out your course of study or did you just grab whatever resources you happened to find, careening from website to book to course like a ball on a tilted pinball machine. How far did you get? Beginner, intermediate, expert? And did you choose the level that you wanted to reach ahead of time or just kept studying out of habit? That last one is a trick question. As it turns out, thinking of learning a technology as a spectrum from beginner to expert is hopelessly obsolete. I'm not going to waste your time here with clichés or obvious approaches like taking a class or using online search-defined information. That's common knowledge and the real problem is that common knowledge itself is obsolete. In this course, we're going to demolish some well-loved clichés and assumptions and explore what it really means to learn technology in the Information Age.

Learning Paths
When we think of learning anything, there is a tendency to think of it as a journey from beginner to expert. We start out at the beginning of a path, knowing nothing about a subject, then travel along the road picking up bits of knowledge along the way until we reach a finish line that declares us an expert. Except that, in technology at least, as soon as you reach a finish line the officials congratulate you and mention that, by the way, we've moved the finish line out beyond that distant hill, so you really should start running again. Even if we do question this view of learning as a journey, it's usually to observe that the path is never straight. It has twists and turns, road blocks and potholes, and occasional dead end spurs where we discover that the things we learned turned out to be completely wrong. This model of learning as a journey was occasionally a useful tool a decade ago, but it's completely flawed for the Information Age. instead, look at learning as four distinct paths or tracks. I'll call them fundamentals, information, skills, and innovation. Each one of these represents a distinct journey. Dividing learning into four tracks this way gives us a mental model to better understand the learning process and the characteristics of different types of knowledge.

Knowledge, Skills and Practice
One of the major characteristics of the Information Age is that information is widely available. No, let me rephrase that. We are overwhelmed by information, we are pummeled by it. Every day we have incoming emails, tweets, chats, posts, blogs, news, texts, and all manner of other bits of information clamoring for our attention. If you want to learn something, the challenge is no longer finding information, it's filtering information. Which content is accurate, which content is relevant, which content is useful, what combination of content represents the most efficient way for you to learn what you want to learn? As a result, much of the time, our progress learning a new technology is much like that of the classic drunken sailor problem. We know we're going to get where we need to go, but we might spend an indeterminate amount of time wandering around in random directions trying to get there. The purpose of this module is to bring some reason and order to the process of learning and to see how one might address learning on all four tracks that we defined earlier.