Welcome to the audodidactic podcast season three, episode one. If you’re a new listener welcome aboard and if your a returning listener welcome back. In season one I covered a lot of the methods regarding how to be an autodidactic, and in season two I covered autodidactics of the past and some of the methods they used for self learning. This season I’m going to try something different.
This season I’m going to do a series called “My Destupidifacation”. Why? Well over the years I’ve started to become more dependent on my phone or computer to remember dates and phone numbers and other things. In addition, it has been almost 40 years since I left high school and a number of things that I was taught there have changed. For example there are no longer nine planets in the solar system. While I have kept myself busy learning new thing related to my career or interests, I haven’t really kept up with my general knowledge and the smart phone has allowed my memory to deteriorate.
So this season I thought it might be useful to use all of the techniques for self-learning that I’ve covered in seasons 1 & 2 to destupidify myself and to show how to use these techniques in action. However, since a lot of the techniques require some elements that are best shown visually I decided to show what I’m doing on my YouTube channel.
Therefore each week on the Autodidactic podcast I’m am going to cover the creation of lesson plans, the creation of self quizzes, the methods I am using to learn, how I’m going to find resources for learning, et cetera. Then on my YouTube channel I’m going to review at the end of each week how well I did and try to show visually what I did. So the idea is for example episode three of the Autodidactic podcast will be published at the same time as the video which shows the methods I discussed on the episode 2 podcast and the results.
I am hoping that listeners will be able to get value from seeing how I am using the methods which I discussed in seasons one and two in the real world.
To make this a little more challenging I have also decided all of the resources that I use should be free and legal. So this means I will be getting resources of the Internet or from the public library system, et cetera. I want to show that it is possible to do self-directed, self-learning with very little investment.
So this week on the Autodidactic podcast the aim of the first podcast of the season is to:
- Discuss how to go about listing my objectives
- Discuss determining goals related to the objectives
- Talk about how to break down the objectives in to manageable chunks and do a gap analysis of them.
- Discuss how I will go about finding resources.
- Discuss how I will track my activities.
- Look at the constraints.
- Discuss how I will determine which methods to use for things like memorization or information gathering.
That is a lot of stuff to cover, but it shouldn’t be a problem. Then next week you’ll be able to see the results of this discussion and see if what I planned to do came about, or if I had to make changes because of various opticals.
Let’s start with listing my objectives.
What is it I plan to learn and how deeply into the subject I wish to go. If you listen to episode 11 in season one where I cover the creation of a study plan, I went into great detail about why determining what you want to learn and how deeply you want to learn it is critical for the creation of a study plan.
The first thing you need to do is determine why it is you want to learn this new skill or gain this new knowledge. And then you want to be really clear about what it is you plan to do with this skill or knowledge. This is also a good time to determine how much you already know about the subject and where you need to fill in the gaps in your knowledge.
So this initial assessment should tell you:
- what is it you want to get out of this self-directed learning.
- what level do you want to achieve once the learning is over with.hel
- what areas will you need to cover in order to gain the level of knowledge you require for what you want to do
So during this period I will be listing the knowledge that I want to gain, how much of it I need, and what I know and where the gaps are.
After I have generated this list and determined how deeply I need to delve into the subject to get the level I want. For example, for one thing on the list I might want complete mastery, for another just superficial knowledge. These goals will help to inform the search for research materials. If I’m only looking to gain a superficial knowledge of the subject there is no need to try and find a dozen different resources. One or two would be sufficient.
It also will allow me to break down the goals into smaller chunks. For example a goal like “Learn Maths” really isn’t good enough. So I need to make sure it is well defined, then I need to break it down into smaller units. Taking Algebra as an example I might break this down into:
- Solving basic equations & inequalities
- Evaluating functions
- Graphs of functions
- Quadratic equations & functions
- Polynomial expressions, equations, & functions
So after having completed this exercise I have the ability to do a gap analysis of my knowledge. This could be as simple as just highlighting the various topics with red, amber, green colours to show how much or how little I know. It could be more elaborate with scoring from 0-100%. It doesn’t really matter at the moment, but just give some way to classify your knowledge so you can prepare for gathering resources.
At this point for each topic or subtopic I know:
- How much depth I am going into each topic
- A score related to how well I know the topic.
This allows me to determine the level of resources I will need. Let’s go back to the algebra example.
If I have scored “Solving basic equations & inequalities” as a green, meaning I already know a lot about it, and I don’t plan to go deeply into the subject, then I only need a textbook or a couple of video tutorials.
If I scored “Quadratic equations & functions” as red, meaning I know almost nothing about it, but I want to become an expert and go deeply into it, then I will need more resources. I will need a lot of resources. Perhaps two or more textbooks, a tutor, a large number of videos, etc.
I will also during this time determine what methods I will use to gain this knowledge. If I can learn everything from watching a couple of videos then that would be the only actions I would do, If it is multiple textbooks, videos, tutors, etc. then I need to think about that.
At this point or perhaps concurrently while thinking about all of the above, I will create an actions spreadsheet with three workbooks. The workbooks will be labelled today, this week, this month. Here I would just open a spreadsheet or on a bit of paper begin to list out some of the things I will need to do as they occur to me. This might be such things as; find a free open source textbook, find a tutor, etc. basically developing the actions and the resources that I will need to reach my goal.
But rather than just dump them on down as one big todo list, I’ll organise them by when I plan to do them. So in this spreadsheet I will put all of the actions while I am thinking of them. For example, I might put “Order textbook from library” into the “Today” workbook. I might put another action called “Hire a tutor” into next weeks workbook, and
This spreadsheet will become core to my study plan, and it will be a living document that I update daily. So while studying I might run into a reference for another resource I want to find. So in the action spreadsheet I might put in an entry for tracking down this resource.
This spreadsheet is difficult to describe and is one of the reasons that I’m also doing video updates on my YouTube channel. I think it is a lot easier to understand what I mean after you’ve seen one in action. This is even more important for the study plan spreadsheet.
Now I will look at the constraints I have. The two biggest are, as usual, time and money. One constraint I mentioned earlier is to not spend money, but only use free and legal resources. Another constraint is time. I will only have an hour or two per day to study, and I want to complete this at the end of my third season podcast, so I only have 13 weeks. So this tells me I will only have between 90 and 180 hours of study time, and it will have to be divided up between subjects.
There is a number of different ways to use this information, but if I were to just have a rule of thumb that any subject I marked as green, meaning I already know a lot about it, will only 5 hours maximum time spent on it. Or I might start will saying I will spend 50% of my time on red subjects, 40% on amber and only 10% on green. Regardless of how it is done, it is worth creating a budget for both the time and money.
You’ve determined how much time you have, so in my example I have 13 weeks with between 90-180 hours. I would take this and allot time against subjects. So for example, I want to spend 50% of my time on red items, the things I don’t know. 50% is 45-90 hours, and I have 10 things in this category. So I can only give each one 5 to 10 minutes per day? That doesn’t sound like a lot of time to go deeply into a subject. Over the course of the 13 weeks, it adds up to 15 hours.
But I would prefer to study a topic for longer. So I might decide to give each topic an hour every ten days or maybe 30 minutes every 5 days. I might decide I am spread to thin and decide to reduce the number of topics, or give 60% of the time to red topics. It is really up to me.
You can then use this time budget to “sanity check” your plans. It allows you to cut back on the number of topics, or increase the frequency of study, or reduce the depth you want to go in the study.
After you have budgeted your time and money and levelled any other constraints you can increase the accuracy of the study plan as you go along.
For example you may have downloaded a textbook from one of the free online distributors and you want to start studying. Looking back at your constraints column let’s assume that one of those constraints was time. You scheduled 20 minutes each day for this topic. With this in mind open the textbook and do a swift evaluation of how long you believe each chapter will take you to study, generate questions, and take notes related to the chapter. Then determine how many chapters or what percentage of a chapter you can get done in the time constraint that you have. Then you need to map this into your study plan schedule. You may determine that you can complete the entire textbook within one month if you do one chapter every two study period. So you just need to schedule that in. Having this in your schedule allows you to not get yourself overbooked, it also means you don’t spend time worrying about what to study next. It is already there for you when you sit down.
So that is the basic strategy I will be using to start to plan out my study for the next 13 weeks. Prior to the podcast I had a few days to determine what I want to learn in this 13 week period and the list I came up with is this:
- Memorise all my immediate families phone numbers, birthdays, and the license plate numbers of their cars.
- I want to learn all the new information in the English Baccalaureate / GCSE given to English high-school students in 2020 which I don’t already know because of my career, e.g. computing.
- I want to learn how to play a musical instrument.
So those are a few of the things I want to learn. I’m going to spend a bit of time and work through my goals and objectives and hopefully you’ll be able to see the results of that next week on the YouTube channel. I will post links to the YouTube channel on the autodidactic website and in the transcription of this podcast. The transcriptions and the links are at https://autodidactic.info
If you have any comments or suggestions regarding this series or any of the previous series you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That you for listening, and I hope to see you next week.