Learning is something I always enjoy. I love learning because it gives me new challenges to overcome. In the past, however, I often learned just for learning’s sake. There was nothing real I got out of it. I just absorbed new knowledge without thinking about its practical value.
Recently I realized that while learning is fun, it’s even more fun if it’s related to my practical needs. The thrill of learning something that can immediately improve my life is more than just learning for learning’s sake. For that reason, now I mainly learn new skills that can improve my life and help me achieve my goals.
The best way to do that is project-based learning. With project-based learning, you create and work on a project that uses the skill you want to learn. Rather than just absorbing knowledge, you create something real.
Here are some examples of project-based learning:
- To learn a new programming language, you create a simple game using that language.
- To learn web design, you create a design for your personal web site.
- To learn to play guitar, you prepare to perform at a local event.
- To learn a new language, you write a short story in that language.
Why Project-Based Learning is Good
There are several reasons why project-based learning is a good way to learn:
1. It motivates you
Project-based learning motivates you because you can see the results of your learning. You have something to show for all the effort you put in learning.
Furthermore, you have a clear goal to achieve. It’s similar to the way having a finish line motivates a runner. If the runner just runs without a finish line, I’m sure he won’t be as motivated. Having a clear goal is motivating.
2. It pushes you to take the shortest path
Since your goal is to accomplish the project, you won’t waste your time with irrelevant things. You will spend time only on things that can help you finish your project. You will take the shortest path. This is a big benefit because otherwise you may get distracted by unimportant things.
3. It gives you feedback quickly
This is important because it speeds up your learning process. Rather than guessing if something works, you put it out there in the real world. You can then use the feedback to improve your skill. At the end, you will have a battle-tested skill under your belt.
Steps to Do Project Based Learning
Here are some steps to do project-based learning:
1. Choose a skill to learn that meets your needs
The first thing you should do is choosing a skill to learn. I recommend choosing a skill that meets your needs because that will make you more motivated to learn.
Look at your life and work. Do you have a plan to improve your life in a certain way? Do you have a plan to create a side business? Whatever it is, there must be a skill that can help you achieve your goal. That is the skill you should choose for your project-based learning.
2. Create a project around that skill
The project should have specific goals so that you know whether or not you are successful. For example, when I learned a new programming language (I have a background in computer science), I usually wrote a simple game using that language. I looked at the games that were out there and chose one of them to write. This way I had a specific goal in mind.
3. Aim to finish the initial version of the project as soon as possible
As I’ve mentioned above, getting quick feedback can speed up your learning process. So you should get your project out there as soon as possible. Don’t wait until everything is perfect before you show it to others.
4. Use the feedback to improve your skill
Based on the feedback you get, work on the areas that need improvements and test the result to get another round of feedback. Repeat this process until you reach the level of mastery you desire.
5. Create a new project if necessary
The project you choose might hone only certain aspects of the skill you want to learn. In that case, you might want to create a new project that helps you learn other aspects of the skill. Or you may choose to learn a new skill. It’s up to you.
Photo by cogdogblog