EP10: Solving concentration problems

Hello and welcome to the auto didactic podcast. This is Season 1 Episode 10 If you’re a long-time listener, welcome back to the show. And if you’re joining us for the first time, welcome aboard. As always, I just want to say that I enjoy getting feedback for the show. So if you have any feedback, feel free to email me at rick@autodidactic.info, and you can request topics or give feedback or give your experience.

Today we’re going to talk about concentration. Now, when you study, concentration is very important, and it’s something that you may have in abundance or something that you might not have, but it is definitely something that can be acquired.

So what is Concentration? Concentration is focusing your attention on what you’re doing, and concentration is an important in just about everything, especially reading or listening or studying. It’s very difficult to say what concentration is, but it’s very easy to explain what it isn’t.

For example, if you’re reading a chapter in your textbook, you’re concentrating only as long as you’re thinking of nothing else, as soon as you start to think about how many pages you have left to read or what time you’re gonna eat dinner or a soon as you start to think about something else then you’ve been distracted and you’re not concentrating.

So if you think about the fact that you should be concentrating, that means you’ve actually lost your concentration. So, for example, if you were in some sort, of course, or watching a YouTube video and you become interested in something that’s happening outside your window or behind you or other people talking, then you’ve lost your concentration. And you’ve probably missed some of the points that the person was trying to make.

Being distracted interferes with your ability to focus, and in each of the sort of examples I’ve given you are actually concentrating on something. The problem is, you just were concentrating on something other than what you wanted to be. Now the difficulty with concentration is a pretty common place for most people on.

I think basically, there three types of concentration and improving your concentration is something that’s very important if you’re going to become an autodidactic. Studies say that there are three levels of concentration.

So as you’re reading your text assignments. Time yourself for 20 minutes, and each time you think of something else or look up from what you’re doing, put a tick mark in the margin of your book. You’ll find out that you probably weren’t concentrating at the level that you should have been. And at some points during the 20 minute period, you’ll have noticed that you were more focused on the material than other times. If you look back at the tick marks that you made in your books, you can see where you were starting to lose concentration. And typically, most people find that these are in the early parts of the study section or the section, which you’re studying.

Why is that? Basically, most people are less distracted toward the end of the 20 minute period. Let’s take a little look at how concentration works. You have what they call light concentration, moderate concentration and deep concentration. A light concentration is typically when you first sit down and you first start a task. So at this stage it lasts, probably for the first five or 10 minutes of your activity on. Then, as you get settled into reading or studying or whatever it is you’re doing, you can see that in the first few minutes you’re not really as focused as you should be, and you wiggle about in the chair or you pull your hair or you start twiddling a pencil or doing something.

So when you’re in light concentration mode, you’re easily distracted. So if somebody starts talking behind you or you see people walking around outside or whatever or some noise occurs, you may find yourself thinking about other things, and you typically don’t accomplish much in a light concentration phase.

Now, after that first five or six minutes, you start to move into a moderate concentration mode, and at this point you begin to seriously pay attention to what you’re doing on the task that you’re doing or what you’re reading, etcetera. Now you may find that you’re actually interested in in this material on what you’re doing, and at this stage you’ll find that you’re not as easily distracted as you were before. So although you might lose your concentration at this point if somebody actually speaks directly to you or knocks on the door or whatever, typically you’re going to stay focused on what you’re doing, and then at some point you might move into deep concentration.

And this means you’re completely engrossed in what you’re doing reading, studying, etcetera and you aren’t thinking about anything except what you’re doing. It’s this. This is the sort of phase where you jump when somebody comes up behind you and touches your arm because you’re so sort of engrossed in what you’re doing that you didn’t even notice the person. Enter the room or say your name when you’re in deep concentration. You’re not really aware of doors opening, clock’s ticking, other sounds that you may have found distracting. And this is the stage of concentration where you’re working the most effectively and you’re gonna have the highest comprehension.

This is the mode that you want to get into, and this is where you’re gonna learn the most and complete the most amount of work.

How do you get into a deep concentration? Concentration typically is a cycle, and you might be thinking that it’s easy to get to a high level of concentration. You know you work for 10 or 15 minutes and then buying you’re in deep concentration, but it really doesn’t work like that. What typically tends to happen is you’ll be able to work up into deep concentration for 40 minutes of say in our study session. Typically, the first few minutes is not really any good to you. And unfortunately, some people never actually get into deep concentration. They flip back and forth between light and moderate because they’re more or less constantly distracted.

Every time you’re distracted, you move back to a lesser stage of concentration. So if you’re in deep concentration, you get distracted urine sort of moderate, and then if you’re in moderate, you go back to light. What you need to do is keep interruptions very short if they happen or not at all. And you need to do this until you get deep into the material. This might take you. You no longer than five or 10 minutes to do. But you’re still gonna have to move through these two other steps of light and moderate before you could get into deep or heavy concentration. And this is gonna take you a while.

So you’re gonna need to study in places where you’re not interrupted as much where you’re you’re gonna be able to basically concentrate for longer periods and your your ability to concentrate. It’s gonna vary from task to task and depends on what you study in the text and things on the time what you’re doing, it etcetera. One of the things you definitely don’t want to be doing is studying in a noisy or distracting area where there’s loads of people and you should actually try and study at the same time each day because you just get into a habit of studying. Most people, as I said, have concentration problems. But most people don’t actually have problems concentrating, which sounds a bit weird, but people have the ability to concentrate. No problem. They just have problems getting into concentration.

So there’s three kinds of problems that are typically found. There’s difficulty focusing at will like you know immediately when you want to. There’s a difficulty sustaining that focus over a longer period of time, and there’s a different difficulty in limiting the focus toe one task at a time. So let’s discuss the first one focusing it will. So have you ever noticed that you have difficulty concentrating when somebody starts lecturing or when you start to the video you may find yourself looking around or thinking about you know, when you’re when you’re gonna be able to get thio whatever you’re doing next. But you basically have trouble focusing all your attention on the task at hand, and this is focusing at will, being able to turn your attention on and off like a light switch. Now some people can concentrate immediately. Others find it difficult.

Many people have developed techniques to focus their attention on the task at hand. You picture yourself of that critical minute when you’re gonna make your move, and you go through some sort of ritual to calm yourself or focus your attention. People that play sports ballplayers, bowlers, tennis players, runners, etcetera have strategies to focus their attention. Many people use self talk to focus yourself, so you might say things like, Okay, pay attention. I’m gonna do this. Some people give themselves a little pep talk. You know, pay attention. I need to do this. I need to concentrate, etcetera. Some people have sort of a totem, you know. They put a pen or highlighter in front of them, and they, you know, they know that they’re going to start studying or they have ah, particular place where they study and they associate their concentration with that area, so these sorts of things help them to focus their will.

The other problem that people have is sustaining that concentration once you actually start, as we discussed previously, the concentration is a cycle, so it’s not as easy as it sounds just to keep in that mode. And some people have difficulty maintaining concentration. Regardless of the task, Some people can focus for long, long, long periods without ever becoming distracted. Why is there this difference? Well, the difficulty of the task level, the person’s interest in the material, their motivation can all be factors in what is the ability to sustain this focus? The final type of problem is, uh, limiting your focus toe one task at a time.

Now, a lot of people think that it’s good to multitask, but most of the time this isn’t a good idea, especially when you’re studying or trying to learn something, you need to focus your attention on the task at hand without being distracted by, you know, another uh, text that you need to review or another thing that needs to do but happen or something else on your to do list. Various strategies around this include, you know, having a good study environment that helps you avoid distractions.

Strategies for setting goals and time management and prioritization will all help you. When you find yourself thinking of other things staring out a window or being distracted, you may have difficulty focusing at will, sustaining your focus or limiting your focus on one task. The rial cause of most problems for concentration are simply a lack of attention, lack of interest or lack of motivation. The two main signs of poor concentration are external internal distractions. Distraction is anything that divert your attention from the task at hand. So external distractions or things like doorbells or people walking past etcetera, internal distractions or things that you’re thinking about or you’re worrying about, or you know, something that pops into your head while you’re while you’re working.

Common internal distractions, air sort of anxieties, personal worries, indecision, etcetera. You probably find that it’s really easy to concentrate when you’re interested in what you’re doing. So when you’re focused on something that you’re doing, like a hobby or or whatever you find it easy to let the time slip away. You’re very focused on what you’re doing. Your level of interest in this particular course from the material that you’re studying, maybe part of the problem with A without having a high level of interest. It’s easy to get distracted, especially when you’re surrounded by distractions. I like the motivation is another cause If you really don’t care about what you’re studying or you have no motivation to complete on, learn what you need to learn, then you’re really not going to see the relevance, uh, toe what you’re trying to study or or what your you’ve assigned yourself to do on. It’s hard to exert.

You know that extra willpower to get it done, you really need to have a motivation and and find out, you know, why am I doing this? Why am I trying to learn this? You know what is my motivation and keep that motivation of mind. It will help you improve your concentration. If you’re motivated to succeed, these problems can be marked. Is AIM (Attention, interest and motivation).

And they’re the real reasons that distractions interrupt you. Internal distractions are difficult to put away. It’s very difficult to not worry about personal problems or think about what you have to do later, or if you’re feeling hungry or tired, you know is another common distraction. You need to make sure that you try and solve these types of problems before you sit down to study, you know, have a snack. Eat something before you start. Try and make sure you’re getting proper sleep and things so that you’re not tired, and you need to make sure that you’ve got the right attitude towards what you’re doing so that you’re motivated, that you know what you want to do and you’re ready to do it. There’s a lot of people have concentration problems when they’re reading assignments, unlike the person speaking or varying the pitch of their voice or the tone or the changing environment around them. These folks can keep you from being distracted and can keep you interested in what’s happening. But if you’re lying in bed reading a textbook, well, you know it can affect your ability to concentrate. If you try and read late at night, you’re gonna experience more difficulty staying focused because you’re tired.

Concentration actually requires effort, so it’s hard to make that effort if you’re tired and you have difficulty maintaining concentration when you’re reading for long periods of time without a break. Okay, So how do we improve concentration? How do we go about making the concentration better? Well, by now, you realize that concentration is pretty common for everybody. And although it makes you feel a bit better to know you’re not the only person who has this problem. It doesn’t actually help you.

Look at ways to fix our concentration strategies. There’s various motivational and organizational strategies we can use to improve concentration. And probably the most helpful ones are a positive attitude. A general interest in the task in hand, goal settings and scheduling yourself. You know, your study periods.

So you need to develop a positive attitude towards what you’re gonna what you’re gonna do. You need too. Want to do the study you need to see it is relevant and valuable and important. So before you even begin to do all of this stuff, have to think about how it benefits you, right? And, answer the question of why you want to do this and then have some self belief. You know, you can do this assignment. It’s not a problem. You have successfully completed things before and you’ll successfully complete.

If you’re having any self doubts or frustration, they’ll interfere with your concentration. You need to have a positive attitude, and then you need to be interested in the task If you’re not already interested and you’re gonna have a lot of difficulty in doing, uh, this task If you need to read a two part data sheet on, uh, microprocessors or something, then you’re gonna need to be interested in that. In order to sustain your focus, you’re gonna need ways to find to make this material interesting on dso that you can generate an interest in what you’re doing.

Now, one way is to preview the thing before you read, so you have a good idea of what you’re going to go through. You know, we’ve talked about this before where you review the chapters. You look at the headings, you sort of have a good idea of what’s gonna happen before you start to read. And in order to increase your motivation, you start to ask some questions from the headlines on the headers so that you are looking to answer these questions as you’re reading along so that that gets you more motivation and more interest in the topic because you’re actually searching for answers at this point.

Another thing that you might try is to break up, break up this task into smaller chunks so that you don’t have to read eight Chapter Section one of this book. You break it into smaller chapters or half a chapter so that you’re basically doing one task at a time, and you’re taking your way through it so it won’t matter as much if you’re distracted midway through if you’re only midway through a relatively small section. The other thing you might try is if you’re not particularly interested in this particular topic and you have another topic what you are interested in, you can try flipping between them so that you know you force yourself to do 20 minutes of mathematics in order to read 20 minutes of history book.

Now you can use goal setting strategies, so set a clear specific goal to help you concentrate. So if you know what you need to accomplish, then you can limit your focus to that tasks of it again. If we go back to asking questions, you’re focusing on answering your own questions rather than just reading the text. But having a clear purpose in mind can help you limit the distractions that you run into on time. Management strategies are very important, you know. Have a to do list. Have a reverse revision, spreadsheet, that sort of thing. To develop a steady schedule study schedule for yourself each day. Then you need to create a positive environment. You need to be able to reduce the number of external distractions on.

The easiest way to do that is just just eliminate them by going and hiding away somewhere where you’re not gonna be distracted. You can avoid most external distractions by closing yourself off or getting yourself alone somewhere. Find yourself a nice, quiet study place. Limit your distractions. So even in your study place, you can put your desk against the wall. Eso you can’t look out the window. Turn off emails, etcetera. Use your desk to study, you know, Don’t use it for everything else. Don’t eat your dinner there. You know it’s just for studying and don’t get a comfy chair to study in. Get something that’s not too comfortable that basically keeps you awake. Never study while you’re lying in bed, because basically, you fall asleep. Um, you can try and turn off your phone, or at least screen your phone calls. Turn off radios, televisions, radio, etcetera. If you need something sort of white noise, you can use soft, familiar music or because even APS you can download that have sort of a sound of falling rain. Etcetera.

Try and study when where you’re at is the most quiet. So if you’re studying at home, when your family members or asleep or outside, um, try and consider going to maybe a library or somewhere quiet If you can’t get any quiet time at home, try and just reduce or remove all distractions in order to get your place. Get yourself into a place where you could go into deep concentration. Now again, everybody says multitasking is great, but really multitasking is not great for study. You need to focus on what you’re doing. You can’t be, you know, studying mathematics While watching football on television. You might think that you’re able to but you just can’t because you’re concentrating on neither thing. If you’re trying to listen to your, you know, respond to text messages on your phone while you’re studying, it’s just not gonna work. Don’t do it. Focus on the task at hand. Minimize all your distractions.

Try not to focus yourself internally, so don’t think about you know the things you could be doing or should be doing or want to be doing. Uh, that’s not the time to be focusing on that. Focus on what you’re doing. Task at hand. And when you find yourself drifting off and thinking about something else, pull yourself back and the more often you pull yourself back and focus, the easier it will be for you to focus later. So one of the better ways to keep distractions from actually getting to you in the first place is to generate a high level involvement using active learning strategies. You may understand video tutoring better if you’re writing notes at the same time. If you’re physically actively writing notes, um, or you know you may have other um, strategies for, I don’t know, looking for grammatical errors and sentences, etcetera. So all of these sort of active strategies to get you involved and focus your attention on the task.

The other problem that you may have is that your you prefer one type of activity over another. So, for example, you may prefer to watch video tutorials rather than read text, which is fine. But you need to be able to make sure that when you’re doing a an activity that you don’t particularly like so much that you’re focusing and concentrating on that as well. Now, one of the things we said earlier was to put a check mark or a tick mark in the book. Every time you’ve got distracted Onda at the end of the study session, you can count the number of interruptions. One of the things that you can do with this is you can use this as a monitor to see if you’re improving your concentration. The way that you do that is, you basically put a tick mark or something in the margin of your study book or in your notes.

If you’re in a lecture hall or you’re watching a video or whatever, each time you get distracted and then what, you’re gonna try and do is make a commitment to reduce the number of ticks and distractions in order to force yourself to concentrate when you notice that you’re distracted or day dreaming or thinking about something else and you’re putting that tick in the in the margin or in your notes or whatever, then have a think about what actually caused you or triggered you to lose your concentration. And if you can pinpoint the cause of your distraction than your step closer to coming up with a solution.

So, for example, if you if you’re studying and you over the course of two or three days, you notice that you’re always constantly distracted by the the postman putting post through the letter box, it might not be, you know, a good idea to stop the postman from delivering your post, but you can at least try and schedule your study time after the postman has been, for example, or if you know, approximately the time that they’re going to show up. Schedule a study break, then, rather than having it being forced upon you many benefits to improve concentration, and obviously the most obvious one is that you’re making better use of your time, and you’re actually studying more but improves concentration while studying has another benefit, which is, Actually, it improves your concentration the rest of the time, bringing your attention back on point. Every time it goes off, you’re training yourself to become more focused and more aware of what you’re doing and better able to fix your concentration at will on a particular thing.

This is something that a lot of people who meditate have found that their ability to meditate and to focus on one thing allows them much, much better ability to get in the flow of something and focus and concentrate. Monitor your distractions so you can hold yourself accountable and try and figure out what is causing these distractions or lack of concentration. So you can try and come up with some sort of improvement method or system or something that will help you do it. And if you’re putting in the time but not getting much done, then you probably have a concentration problem, and you and you need to work on fixing your concentration problem.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks podcast, and I hope you have found something to take away and improve your studying and improve your concentration.

Next week in next week’s podcast, I want to cover off something that you might have been wondering, which is has an auto didactic. You don’t have a teacher or professor or someone showing you what to learn. And, of course, you yourself don’t actually know yet about this subject in full. So how do you go about creating your own self directed learning plan or curriculum for yourself? Next week? We’ll cover off some of those topics just to try and cover what it is you should try and look for when you first start out and how you plan create an Evolve, a learning plan that helps you become a lifelong learner and also to cover the topic that you’re interested in. So that’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the podcast. And, as always, if you have any feedback, please email me at rick@autodidactic.info. Uh, with any questions, feedback, anything you want to discuss. Thank you very much.

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EP9: Taking Lecture Notes

“Hello, everyone, and welcome back. This is Episode 9 Season 1 of The Autodidactic Podcast. If this is your first time, I welcome you, and if you’re a returning listener, thanks for coming back.

Today I want to cover the topic of lecture notes. As an Autodidactic, self-learner you’re probably not gonna attend many formal lectures, although you might. Other than attending class every day, taking good lecture notes is probably the single most important activity for college students, but if you’re self learning, you might not think you need to worry about this sort of thing.

However, like I pointed out last week, a lecture may take many different forms. It could be an online lecture, or it could be a class from an on line tutor. It could be a speech at a conference, or it could be a podcast or YouTube video. If someone is verbally imparting knowledge to you, you should consider it a lecture and try and take some notes.

If it is recorded audio or video lecture, you could re listen. But this isn’t a very efficient use of time. With these types of information, you’re not going to get things spoon-fed to you like you did back in high school. There probably isn’t a blackboard where the important stuff is itemized in a list for you. You’re going to have to listen closely and pick out the most important parts for yourself.

Developing good note-taking skills takes both time and practice. Taking lecture notes

promotes active listening, provides an accurate record of information, provides an

opportunity to interpret, condense, and organize the information, and provides an

opportunity for repetition of the material. Learning and practising effective strategies for how to take lecture notes will help you become a more successful autodidactic.

By taking notes, you can improve your concentration because you’re focusing your intention on what is being said. You have a purpose, which is listening for the next point that the speaker will make so you can write it down.

Taking notes is a very active process. You can generate a high level of involvement in your own learning by taking notes. Note taking involves more than just writing down what the instructor is saying however, it includes thinking about what is being said, determining what is important, recognizing the different points and how they relate to each other. Anticipating what will be said next and putting the information into your own words and organizing the information in your notes, condensing and interpreting the information helps make it more meaningful for you, which helps you to learn it. The process of taking good lecture notes can help you become both an active listener and an active participant.

Research studies indicate that without rehearsal, you may forget 50% of what you hear in a lecture within 24 hours and 80% of it in just two weeks. And in fact, in one month you may have forgot 95% of it. So you can’t rely on your memory of the lecture, you need your notes too. Taking lecture notes forces you to interpret, condense and organize information.

You’ll quickly find that you can’t write a quickly if someone can speak. If you could write that fast, you could simply write down a lecture verbatim and then re-read it later. But re-reading is the same as re-attending or reviewing a video recorded lecture. It just isn’t an efficient use of your time.

You have to condense the information and you have to think about each sentence and interpret it, often putting the information into your own words as you write down the information in a condensed form, you’re also forced to create a system of organization that separates the main and supporting points. You structure the information your way and in a way that will make sense to you.

So now that we know why it’s important to take notes, how do you do it? You can judge the effectiveness of your notes by reviewing them against recorded lectures were possible in making sure that you’re picking out the important information and condensing it properly.

I wrote a book about note taking; and the majority of the book covers ways of making notes faster by using abbreviation and speed writing and also some general methods for note taking and meetings, etcetera. I’ll put the link in the show notes. (Effective Note-taking: Note-taking for business)

When you start doing lecture notes, you need to consider the organization of the notes and the way that you’re going to structure the material. If you just try and write down everything as quickly as possible, you’ll end up with a tangled mass of disassociated ideas and sentences so it’s important to separate the main points from the details and show the relationships between the ideas.

Therefore, before you even start to watch the lecture or enter the lecture hall or go to the conference centre, you need to have prepared your notebook or your app or whatever you’re going to use. You should try and be familiar with what’s going to be discussed a much as possible. And if you have a textbook on the subject, study it before the lecture so it’ll be easier for you to pick up on the main points and organize your notes if you have a good idea of what’s gonna happen next.

Personally, I recommend that you use a paper based notebook simply because it allows more freedom and it allows you to do some additional work with it after the lecture, and we’ll cover that a bit later. Now, remember that you only get one chance to listen to a lecture unless, of course, it’s been recorded. But you can read the textbook or your notes as many times as you want.

Try to make sure that you see and hear the speaker and that you’re not going to be distracted. So to take the notes, you need to:

  • Decide that you want to listen.
  • You need to be paying close attention to the lecture.
  • You need to select the relevant information and ignore any distractions.
  • You need to interpret the information to make sure it’s meaningful. And you need to condense the information before writing it down.
  • organizing the information into appropriate headings and subheadings
  • you take notes

When writing down the notes in your notebook, never, ever right on both sides of the notepaper. And I’ll tell you why in a little while.

People often confuse hearing with listening on listening means that you’re engaged in. You’re paying attention and you’re interpreting what you’re hearing, and you’re trying to assign meaning to it. Active listeners air physically, intellectually and emotionally involved in the lecture. Some strategies to become Active listener are:

  • read any text you can before the lecture to build up a background on the topic
  • review your last set of notes before a lecture begins. (If this lecture is related to a previous one)
  • make sure that you want to listen.
  • Focus your attention by physically sitting up and making eye contact with the speaker. (If the if the lecture is live but otherwise sitting forward and paying attention to the screen or the audio, focus your attention mentally by eliminating or avoiding distractions.)
  • Listen with an open mind and set aside your own biases. So don’t be distracted by things you might find unappealing about the message or the messenger and concentrate on what’s being said.
  • Try and control your emotional response to what is being discussed.
  • Listen for the main points and the related details.
  • When you’re taking your notes, ask any questions if that’s possible for recorded materials right down the questions as they occur to you so that you can review and look up later.
  • Monitor your listening. In other words, check that what you heard or think you heard is what was actually said. So you can do this by checking with the lecturer or another audience member if it’s live or if you’re unsure the information, or you can just watch it again if it’s recorded. So basically, just monitoring to make sure that what you thought you understood, you actually understood and then hold yourself accountable for the material that was presented, you know, make make yourself learn what is being discussed.

One of the systems for note taking is the Cornell system developed at Cornell University, which has an excellent format for setting up your note page. But I recommend that you have different notebooks for different topics. So don’t mix up your I don’t know mathematics study with your Electronics study, for example.

Although there are many, many note taking systems, there are three that worked particularly well for lectures.

They’re called the Informal Outline, the Block and the Modified Block style, and they all work well in lectures. So try them all and see which one works best for you.

The informal outline is similar to the formal outline that many people learned in school where you have the headings with a capital A and in subheadings are 123 etcetera. The end former outline is a very similar system, but you just don’t label things you know ABC or 123 etcetera. In addition on informal outline contains a lot more information. So you’re not just putting single word headings and subheadings you’re actually writing, you know, full sentences. And after writing the main points next to the you know margin line. You just use indentation to show that the following points are subordinate to the lines above.

And now the block style of note taking is another very simple system. Block notes are especially useful if you need to record a great deal of information very quickly. Are you listening to someone who talks so fast that you can’t keep up who never goes back over information? Well, when taking block notes, you need only to write down the heading and then focus on writing as many details as you can. So block notes are written continuously across the page, separating any details by dashes or slashes.

The modified block method is similar to an outline. However, you simply have a heading and then a paragraph underneath of it with all of the details.

The block and modified-block methods allow you to take notes efficiently and

effectively because you have to concentrate on only two things:

  1. writing down the main points (headings) and
  2. writing down any details about them.

You don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out where to place or how to label

each new piece of information.

But still, there’s the question. What should I write down? Or perhaps you find yourself thinking. Should I write that down? If you’re asking yourself the question, should you write that down? Then the answer is yes.

After you’ve written your notes in the lectures done, congratulations. You have completed the first draft. Now you have to edit your notes.

You need to edit, revise your notes and correct errors. Clarify meanings. Make additions improve organization etcetera. Editing your notes helps you become a better note taker because you’re basically giving yourself feedback on the quality of your own notes. And as you go through the notes checking for accuracy and filling in gaps and information and proving organization, you can see where you made mistakes, and this feedback will help you take better notes next time.

Editing provides you with an opportunity to review both the text and the lecture material, and it gives you a chance to integrate the course material textbooks or other subsequent information. This additional repetition, which requires both critical thinking and active structuring of the data, helps you to reinforce what you read and heard and leads to a better understanding of the material.

So editing your notes, you need to do within 24 hours of the lecture, because if you wait too long, you’ll have for gotten too much.

Note editing is very straightforward. There’s basically five steps that you’re trying to do.

  1. Fill in the gaps and missing information. As you read your notes it will jog your memory and you’ll be able to add more detail.
  2. Refer to a textbook or other information sources to help fill in gaps in your notes.
  3. Check for accuracy. If you notice some incorrect information in your notes or if you’re unsure of the accuracy of some points, check with the lecturer if possible or textbook or other sources of information to verify whether the information is correct.
  4. Expand your notes. Make your notes more understandable, expand abbreviations, finish sentences, correct spellings, etc.
  5. Rewrite your notes in order to improve the organization of the information.

This last point is the reason why I said earlier, never right on the back side of the paper. As you’re taking your notes, the back side of the page is blank, but because it’s related to the information other side, you can rewrite your notes on the back in a more organized and accurate way. And then later, when you review your notes, review the back side of the notepaper, not the front.

And to review your notes is similar to the other reviews that I mentioned in previous podcasts. You need to develop recall questions and generate many quizzes to test yourself. If you need to go back and review previous a podcast, now would be a good time to do it, because now you know how to take lecture notes while you’re listening.

Okay, so that’s it for me this week. Next week we’ll try and cover concentration while studying. So how to make sure you’re concentrating on your studying your concentration levels, concentration problems, strategies for overcoming issues?

Thanks for listening and as always if you have any feedback I would love to hear from you. You can email me at: rick@autodidactic.info or you can put comments on the website. Thank you very much for attention on. I’ll see you soon.

EP8: How to mark and highlight text books for review.

We cover how to highlight, what to highlight, how much to highlight, and how to review highlighted material.

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to the show. This is Episode 8, Season 1 of The Autodidactic Podcast. Today we’re going to discuss textbook highlighting.

If you’re new to the show I would like to welcome you and if you are returning, I’d like to welcome you back. As always, I really enjoy getting feedback for this show. So if you’re interested in giving me some feedback, you can email me at rick@autodidactic.info. You can make comments on the website as well where I will be uploading the show notes for this show as well as others.

Why should you mark up your text books?

When done correctly, text marking promotes active reading, condenses the

material for later review, increases your comprehension, and serves as a mini

comprehension-monitoring system.

Active reading

By marking your textbooks as you read, you can achieve a high level of concentration and knowing that you should mark specific sections as you read helps keep you alert. It gives you a purpose for

reading. To mark your text effectively, you have to think about the content of the chapter. You constantly need to make decisions about what’s important and what isn’t.

Condense Material

Because you are highlighting the important areas, there is not need for you to read the entire section again for review. You only need to review the highlighted areas.

Increased Comprehension

Identifying and marking the main points and then looking for supporting details help you understand the text. When you highlight you’re effectively reading twice, because your eyes will follow the marker and reinforce the reading.

Feedback on comprehension

Highlighting also monitors your comprehension because it gives you feedback on if you are paying attention. If you’ve highlighted everything, then it means you have not been looking for the important information and making decisions about what is or isn’t important. If you haven’t highlighted anything in a large section it means you’ve not understood well enough, or that you were distracted while reading.

So how do you go about marking up your textbook? The main two methods are underlining or marking with a pencil. You can use either, but I would recommend that you use a highlighter, since this forces you to read a second time. You might think you get the same effect with underlining but studies have shown that people tend to look at the pencil like rather than the words. Highlighting doesn’t have this disadvantage.

Before you underline or highlight anything, you need to have completed the reading of the section. After you’ve read the section, have a little think about what parts were important, then go back and find those areas and highlight them. Don’t mark anything until you complete the section. If you start marking right away then you might mark something important which actually isn’t. In addition marking while reading interferes with comprehension.

When you do mark, make sure to highlight in the direction of the text to force a second reading. Don’t highlight the text backwards. You also should you a soft shade like yellow or pink, this is because highly fluorescent colours tend to cause eye-strain when you go back to do your reviews.

When marking, markup sentences where possible. If you ‘re highlighting keywords, then you need to use linking to connect them together. While marking just try to remember to mark things in a way that they’ll make sense when you review a month or six months later. This is why it is better to mark meaningful phrases instead of just words.

I recommended you only do highlighting, but don’t throw away the pencil just yet. While you’re marking up the textbook use your pencil to make notes in the margins. Mark margin notes about areas where you disagree with the author, or put a question mark if you need more information about this particular point. You can use margin notes to make a summary of the keywords and creating a link between them.

But don’t over use the margin notes. You defeat the object of highlighting if you’re creating huge summaries in the margins.

Keep It Simple Stupid – The kiss principle.

Diversity is great, but not when it comes to text highlighting. You’ve probably seen people who have 10 different colour highlighters and they have one colour for facts, one for opinion, one for keywords, another colour for examples, etcetera. I would advise against this. It makes you think more about the colouring than the content. Using two colours is really the maximum.

One thing about colours however. If you’re using a used textbook which has already been highlighted make sure you get a different colour for your highlights. This might be difficult if the previous owner was a multiple-colour highlighter.

Another time consuming exercise in futility is the multiple symbol method. This is where people underline, double underline, circle, bracket, use asterisks, etc. The idea being you have a set of symbols you use to encode the review material. This is very time consuming, and often leads to over-marking the text. You spend too much time thinking about the system instead of the content.

A simple system will help focus on the important information without the distraction of remembering various symbols, or colour combinations.

Now that we have discussed how to mark, the next step is figuring out what to mark. In the past you’ve probably caught yourself thinking; “I wonder if I should mark this?” Until you become experienced at marking, it’s better to mark a little too much rather than not enough.

There is no real set of rules for what you should mark. But, headings, subheadings, main ideas, supporting details, definitions, examples, and statistics are important. Even though they’re not always identified by bold or italic print. So let’s go through some good practice guidelines for marking up information.

Mark headers. It is very likely that headings in the text are important, since typically, they are a summary of the most important idea of the section.

Mark the main ideas of the section. Main ideas are the general statements that the author makes about the topic. The main idea statement, or topic sentence, is generally found in the first or second sentence of a paragraph. Sometimes authors don’t directly state the main ideas; they only imply them. However, as you practice looking for these main ideas you’ll find the implied ones. You want to write the implied idea in the margin notes.

Focus on the supporting details. Look at definitions, examples, facts, statistics, and signal words, etcetera. You should absolutely highlight definitions, and perhaps even load them into a SRS, spaced repetition program in order to learn them off by heart.

Look through the examples and highlight where the example is illuminating the idea.

Lists or enumerations, like definitions, should almost always be highlighted. They contain itemised information.

Facts or statistics are also worth highlighting a because they will support the main idea.

Some important information is found outside the regular body of the text. You need to read and mark any definitions for technical terms, even if they’re in the left-hand margin. Don’t omit information included in charts, graphs, and other diagrams. The information under photos, in footnotes, and in boxed features is also important to your understanding of the material.

For Math or Science books make sure to highlight all formulas, as well as any problems that

you want to review. Be sure you also mark the text material that explains or discusses that formula or problem. The prose material material is as important as or perhaps even more important than the problems.

Finally it is probably worth highlighting negation words like, but, however, on the other hand, conversely, etcetera. This is because they are showing a change in the authors direction in this area. So you’ll need to highlight them in order to avoid confusion later when reviewing.

So now we know how to make, and what to mark, how much should we mark? Well, the correct answer is “just enough”. But what does that mean. Firstly, you don’t want to over mark since this will lengthen your review times, if you highlight everything, you might as well just read the book again. You need to be actively looking for important ideas and information.

However, being overly concerned about over-marking can lead to another problem which is under-marking. Marking too little means you’re probably only marking the headlines or key words. But you should also highlight related details. You may miss important information by trying to pick out only one or two important points in each paragraph or headed section. You may have heard or read that you should mark only one main point in each paragraph or that you shouldn’t mark more than 20 percent of the words on a page. This might be good rules-of-thumb, but actually you need to mark all the information which you need in order to understand and retain all the important information.

So both over-marking and under-marking are a problem. Just like Goldie-locks you need the find the one that is just right.

Remarking and review. After you’ve marked your textbook, on the next review don’t leave the highlighter behind, pick a second colour for your second review. So I recommended you only use one colour when you highlight, but this time you’re not highlighting, you are re-highlighting and therefore you need a different colour from the first time.

The idea here is if you have to remark the material you are once again engaged and actively reading the material. As you reread the marked selections, you can determine whether or not the information is important enough to review again. The first time you read the chapter, everything was new

to you. At that time, many things may have seemed important. After having completed the chapter, worked through text questions or a study guide, read or listened to other material, you should be able to reduce the text material even more.

When you review you might also want to rewrite and summarize the information into a notebooks. One really good method of review is to generate a mock examination from the information on a separate sheet of paper. Don’t make multiple choice questions however since this might lead you to remembering incorrect information. Write a broad question for each heading or subheading and then

as many specific questions as you can.

After your review, have a think about your markings.

  • Did they make sense?
  • Did you mark all the important information the first time around?
  • Does the markings retain and contain the meaning of each section?

Giving yourself feedback on your markings will help you in future markings. You’ll get better at it as you go along. For an autodidactic, there probably isn’t going to be a test or examiniation in your future. So you’ll need to review your books periodically and having a good well thought out set of markings will reduce the time you need for review.

That is all for today, thanks for listening and I’m glad you joined me. Next week, we’re going to talk about taking lecture notes. Thank you very much.

EP7: Textbook Study Methods

Today we’ll go through three reading and study methods, P2R, SQ3R and S-SUN-R. These methods help to increase comprehension and retention of information when using textbooks.

Welcome to the Autodidactic Podcast with your host Rick Dearman.

Hello, and welcome back to the Autodidactic Podcast. This is Episode seven Season one. Today I’ll be covering the topic of studying and reading textbooks and the methods that you can use to read textbooks in order to get the most out of them.

I’ve struggled to record the podcast this week because I’ve been so busy myself studying. I recently began or rather re-started doing some assembler language programming using a raspberry pi. And this led me down a rabbit hole that had me reviewing various microprocessors. And assembly language instructions on day finally down to electronics and on creating an eight bit computer with a bread board on some chips. One of the reasons for mentioning this is I’m planning to do a short podcast sometime in the future that discusses how you can keep yourself from being distracted from your primary goal of learning and study and not going down a particular rabbit hole because you find something interesting and go off on a tangent. But that’s for a later date.

Today we’re going to discuss text reading and studying and there are a lot of systems for doing this, but today we’re going to cover three of them in particular, So let’s get into it.

The three systems that I’m going to talk about today are called the P2R to reading and studying system, the SQ3R studying system and the S-RUN-R reading and studying system. Now there are probably at least a dozen different systems developed to help students understand what they read, and they’re all very similar.

We’re going to discuss these three today, but it doesn’t really matter how you use each system or how much of it, and you just need to choose the one that works best for you. And you might discover that one method might work well with one type of study, and another one works better with a different type of study. Or you might decide to mix-and-match and chop-and-change to create your own method as appropriate. And all of that is fine. It’s not a problem, but these are the standard systems that most people will be taught if they are taught a reading and studying system.

Most people don’t like to teach or to learn long complicated systems, and although some systems are very long and do work, the students don’t use them because they take too much time. So you can try and get a much out of your textbook as you can with a simpler approach.

And now the first one we’re gonna talk about is a three step approach called P2R and it’s designed for textbooks from easy to average level of difficulty. This isn’t for the really difficulty or information dense textbooks, but more of the sort of, you know, easier level or average level.

So you use the P2R to on the entire chapter or on 10 page chunks. If the chapters are too long, all right, and basically, what you’re doing is your previewing, you’re reading it actively and then you’re reviewing it.

So the first thing you do is you preview the entire chapter or the 10 page chunk that you’ve chosen to study and you actively read by highlighting or taking notes as you read. And then finally you review using an active strategy, such as reciting it, answering your review questions or writing questions in the margin. So that you’re not just sitting there reading the text chapters. You need to be engaged, actively reading and reviewing.

I mentioned this in a previous podcast where I said, When you study, you should be writing yourself out little test questions so that you can give yourself quizzes weekly and and examination monthly, sort of thing. So the three steps again, our preview read actively in review.

So in the preview, you should always preview the chapter before you read it, and the preview is a brief overview of the chapter, which you do before reading. So previewing doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, and you can usually do it in like five minutes. So the first thing you do is you read the title of the chapter, then the introductions, the outline, any structured overview. You look at any visual displays of key information at the beginning of the chapter, etcetera.

If it doesn’t have an introduction or an outline, you just read the first couple of paragraphs. And as you turn the pages of the chapter, read all of the headings. Anything that’s in bold print, have a look at any pictures or tables or graphs. But you know, don’t bother reading the text that the bulk of the text that goes along with it. Here you’re just trying to get a summary in your head and an overview of what it is you’re going to be studying. If you don’t have a lot of information, visual tables, that sort of thing. What you can do is just read the first two paragraphs and the last two paragraphs in order to get sort of a summary.

Once you’ve previewed, write down any information that you gleaned while previewing, right yourself. Some sample questions describe a brief summary of it of what you think you’re going to get and then move on to active reading.

Now, the second step is active reading, so you need to be doing something whilst reading. So one way that you could become an active readers by marking up your text and you see a lot of people do this with markers, you know you’re going through and you’re highlighting things. So after you read a paragraph or a headed section pause to think about what you read and then go back with a highlighter to mark any material, you think you want to review again. So that you’ve highlighted any information that you believe will be relevant to yourself, and you’re trying to condense this into a summary for your review later.

Now you can run into a lot of problems with highlighting, and I’ll probably wind up doing another podcast where we just discuss highlighting text, because many people over highlight things. But just keep in mind when you’re when you’re highlighting. You’re just trying to highlight things that will be useful and relevant in summary later.

Okay, so you’ve completed the first two steps, and then the final step is the review. So after you’ve completed your chunk of reading or at the end of the chapter, you need to review and do something to reinforce the important information. Now there’s a number of ways that you can review the text material, but the four most common ones are.

  • First, you look at your highlighted entries or the notes, and you read them aloud. You write questions in the margin of your text or notes at the end of each chunk, and then when you finished reading the entire chapter, you recite the answers to your questions
  • Secondly, used the headings to recite the key information on cover the details with your hand and then recite using only the headings as a clue.
  • The third ways to do some or any exercises or questions they may have at the end of chapter. Many textbooks have this sort of thing, at the end of chapters.
  • And finally, you can take the end of chapter tests or online test to review and monitor what you’re learning.

You don’t need to use all of these strategies, but you should try as many of them as you can, after you complete your reading. And then try and find the one that works best for you that allows you to remember the most. Now the advantage of the P2R reading study is it’s very efficient with text material by previewing actively reading and then reviewing your text. You should be able to significantly increase your comprehension, and you may find it takes less time to read the chapter, and then you have an increase in interest, and it builds up a background for your comprehension.

Previewing the chapter basically builds up this background before you start reading and then it reduces the reading time. You would think that previewing would appear to add time to your reading, but it probably reduces the total time it takes you to read the chapter and you can test this yourself. Just select a section in a chapter, and time yourself is you read it and then select another one where you’ve done the previewing and then read it and, you know, figure out which chapter took more time.

You generally find that you’ll get an increased interest in the chapter because of the previewing. And this is especially true when you’re reading something that you find boring. Because as you preview, you may notice a particular topic in the middle, which seems more interesting. And then you’ll be able to read to get to the good stuff as it were. And then because you’re reviewing periodically either 10 pages or a chapter, it helps you reinforce this information that you get, and without reviewing, you can’t really be sure that you understood the material and that you need to be quizzing yourself and then marking up your your the text or taking notes.

In addition to aiding your comprehension will actually help you prepare later for another review. Or if you do have actually to take examinations, it’ll help you when you’re reviewing, for for those sort of things. So that’s the first system. The P2Rreading system, and then the next one we’re going to discuss is something called the SQ3R. Now the SQ3R was developed by a fellow called Frances Robinson in 1941 on is probably one of the most widely taught system. So if you’re going into a sort of a high school or university, someone probably would teach you the SQ3R system.

What does it stand for? SQ3R is an acronym for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review. And this time we have five steps. And use these five steps to review textbooks. Some of the steps are very similar to those in the aforementioned P2Rmethod, but the main difference is that the steps were performed on each headed section rather than on 10 page chunks on whole chapters.

So, as you see, this difference makes this particular method a bit more time consuming. Because of this, you may want to save that SQ3R for more difficult textbooks. And because although it will take, ah, lot of time, many people find this a bit more effective for longer or more advanced textbooks.

So the five steps are:

Survey- So you survey the chapter before you read it. You go through the chapter quickly, you glance at the headings, you read the final paragraph to get a general idea and the main points so very similar to the previous method and then question.

Question – Before you begin to read each headed section of your chapter, you turn the heading into a question. For example, you may have a heading “housing population” and so you would typically turn that into a question. What is and then the heading, But formulating a question forces you to think about what you’re going to read before you read it.

Read – So the next step is to read the material underneath the heading to try and find the answer to the question which you generated. Turning heading into a question helps you focus your reading, and the reading in this section helps you locate the answer to your question. Hopefully, and so you’ll get actively involved in the reading material. As you read the selection, see if you can answer your question and then the next bit is recite.

Recite – So at the end of the section the headed section, recite the answer to the question that you formulated. Recite the answer in your own words, though, so that it’s a summary without looking back at the text. And if you can’t recall part or all of the answer, then go back to the section again and then try and jot down the answer in a sort of an outline or a summary form. But don’t take any notes until you’ve read the entire section, and then the next step, the final step is review.

Review – So after you finished reading through entire chapter, look over the notes that you made to familiarize yourself with the important information and then check your memory by covering up your notes and reciting the main points out loud, and then cover each point in your notes and recite subordinate points that you’ve noted. So this type of review should only take five minutes because you’re only review in a very small subset of what you’ve, that you’re only studying a small subset.

Some of the advantages is that it breaks the task down into very small segments and has a built in comprehension system. There’s a great deal of repetition here, so this is another advantage because it allows for repetition of important information. And because you’re focusing on smaller segments of the material. If you’re focusing on smaller segments of a really difficult or advanced textbook, it can make it a lot easier for you and very helpful. Because it’s a smaller chunk and it feels more manageable and you’re not being overwhelmed. And then, of course, you have your built in comprehension model / monitoring because you’re you’re testing yourself on this, repeatedly as you go through.

You can change this to be more effective. You don’t have to use it for every reading assignment. Usually you would only use it for difficult textbooks. You know this this method the SQ3R method, because with easy text, the other system that we mentioned before the P2R are is probably easier to use with smaller, less information dense text.

And you you wanna formulate a broad question. Because typically these textbooks have a lot of information just in the headed section. You know, just in that sentence, you can generate a lot of open ended questions like; What is; Why is; How does this work? etcetera and then highlight the answer to your question.

So instead of just reading as you’re going through, make sure you’re highlighting the answer. So when you find the answer to your question highlighted and then recite the headings as clues and, the highlighted answer. And now this may be able to be used with some mnemonic techniques that we talked about last week. To help you try and remember the journey through the textbook. And then at the end of the chapter, you need to go back and review all of the questions for all of the headed sections. So this is the repetition piece. So you you’ve done each, say you’ve got 10 headed sections, you’ve done all 10 of them. You have 10 questions, and at the end of the chapter, you go back and you review all of them.

The final system I want to talk to you about is called S-RUN-R. The S-RUN-R system was developed by a lady Nancy Bailey on this combines review steps to better help you with your comprehension on because you’re focusing on one section at the time. This is also a useful technique for difficult or advanced textbooks which are, information dense.

The five steps here are S, survey and then you have R, read U, underline, N, note taking and then review.

Survey again is you simply serving the entire chapter. You read the title introduction headings, subheadings, summary, etcetera. And this is very similar to the previous two, try and build up a background and interest. So this isn’t going to take you long. It shouldn’t take you more than five minutes to do, and it has taken you longer than five minutes. Then you’re probably you’re probably reading too much or stopping too long to look out illustrations or tables or whatever.

So after you’ve done that, instead of formulating a question before each section, you write the heading of the section that, the section heading, on a piece of notepaper and then just copying out the heading makes you pay attention to it and focus your reading. And then you read the section as if you would, you know, reading any other text material and then critically thinking about the material as you’re reading it.

Now, after you finish each paragraph, think about the important bit of the paragraph and underline or highlight only the important bit. So if the important bit is just a single word, just highlight that one. Or if it’s one sentence, highlight that. If you’re highlighting the whole paragraph, chances are you’re over highlighting. For now. Just just think about the information you think you may need to recall and highlight the particularly important information. Now, as soon as you’ve completed all the highlighting for the entire section, so you’ve highlighted paragraph by paragraph and you you’ve completed that section. Then you need to open your notebook and start taking some notes.

So you take notes on the key information, which you should have already highlighted and briefly summarized this information in your own words. And then you skip to the next line on write the notes of meaningful phrases as you do it.

So you have in your notebook, you would basically have the heading title that you’ve written down. You have a brief summary of the section in your own words and then underneath, slightly indented, you put in the highlighted information, the important relevant bits. But you don’t copy what you highlighted. You’re paraphrasing what you’ve highlighted in your own words because, paraphrasing and making it your own will help your comprehension.

Then the final bit is review. So once you’ve completed the entire chapter, you’ve highlighted everything and you’ve done your note taking then you try and recite the key information that you wrote down under the heading. Try and do the end of chapter questions. If there are any. Try and predict the questions that you may get or create self-tests for yourself in order to practice. So this is the review information, and you can do this at the end of each chapter, or you could do it slightly later, but you should try and do it as soon as you can.

Now, the advantage of using this particular system is that it highlights all the important information in every section in every paragraph, and it increases repetition as well, because you get more repetition of the important points because you’re not just highlighting it. You’re actually having to rewrite it and paraphrase it into your notes, and so it will increase your comprehension and hopefully your memory. And then it prepares the text for review later, so if you need a go back and review it, the relevant important information is already highlighted. It matches information in your notes, and you’ll be able to review it quite quickly.

In summary, textbooks are generally different from any sort of normal book that you may be reading. They’re generally written at a higher reading level, they are longer and they’re more information dense. So they don’t just seem harder. They actually are harder. You need to try and keep on top of this on.

Understand what you’re reading and use a reading strategy while you read to try and retain the information. Try and learn to be a critical reader so that you think about evaluate information as you’re reading. Now, using these three systems P2R, the SQ3R or the S-RUN-R will help you increase your comprehension as you as you go through it. The whole point of these is to try and get you actively involved in your reading. So you may find that you only need to use a really simple system like P2R when you’re reading textbooks to get yourself engaged. Or you may need to use one of the more complex systems in order to get a good comprehension or to chunk up the material into a smaller piece that you’re you can work your way through. Or you may decide to just adapt these systems to make it sort of roll your own where you mix and match the best bits.

So you might decide that you like the note taking idea. But you want to use the P2R more simple system. So you may combine P2R our with with note-taking.

That, in summary, is the three main methods. There are many, many other methods, and you could go out and find as many as you like. But I recommend you try one of these three, or try all three, and see how you get on with your information.

Now, obviously, this is for reading textbooks, and it doesn’t really help you, necessarily, if you’re watching videos or you’re, listening to audio. Or you may be doing sort of massive online classes where you’re actually in a lecture and you need to do lecture notes and things like that. So we’ll cover that sort of information later. And what we’re gonna call that is taking lecture notes. So although it may not be, actual lecture notes, in other words, you’re not in a formal lecture. You’re not sat in the classroom. But you might be watching, for example, a YouTube video on how to construct an eight bit assembly language computer with a bread board and you’re gonna decide you’re going to take notes because he’s effectively giving you a lecture. The person with the video.

Whatever the subject is you’re studying. If you’re doing lecture type material like YouTube videos or some of these paid for systems or Khan academy or whatever, you want to take notes to retain that information on, and I know that you could just go back and watch the whole video. But if you just walk to the 30 minute video and there’s only four important points. Do you want to go back and review 30 minutes? When actually, there’s only the relevant bit is two minutes long.

So I want to talk about lecture notes. But one of the things that we also need to review, which goes along and sort of dovetails with this particular podcast is highlighting and marking up textbooks and organizing text information.

Okay, that’s it. So that’s the three methods that I think you should try. The P2R, the SQ3R or the S-RUN-R systems. So next week, we’re going to talk about marking up your textbook on using a highlighter and organizing textual information. So these three podcast dovetail together. It is all about reading, reviewing and studying text books.

I’m hoping that next week I’ll be able to get marking, highlighting and organizing text information all into the same podcast. But if not, and it runs long, then we may or I’m a split it up.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please, please, please tell other people. I mean if if everybody who listen told two people and they listened I might get up to I don’t know, six listeners. But seriously, if you can spread the word, it really helps me out a lot, and it gives me the incentive to carry on. Okay, Well, that’s the end of the podcast. Thank you very much for listening. I hope you enjoyed the information. And I hope you find it useful. And I’ll see you again next week.

Thank you for listening to the auto didactic podcast with your host Rick Dearman, if you enjoyed this podcast, please consider giving a donation by a Paypal. Thank you very much, and see you again next time.

EP6: Mnemonics and memorization of study materials.

Hello everyone and welcome back. This is episode six, season one of the Autodidactic Podcast. Today I will to cover the topic of memorisation. Last week I said I would be covering study methods and mnemonics but I’m going to focus only on mnemonics this week since it is quite a big topic. I would also like to say thank you to a listener, Janice who requested I do a show dedicated to mnemonics and memorisation.

Many years ago I read a study which suggested engineers who graduated with a bachelors degree in engineering would have all of there memory outdated in 10 years. All of the knowledge they gain in their university time would have been superseded within 10 years, with new information and new techniques and new materials. Information is growing at such a huge rate in modern times that if you’re not studying every day then you’re not just standing still, you’re actually going backwards.

So why have I put mnemonic tricks ahead of real study methods? Firstly these aren’t tricks, they are methods known to work and proven to work over hundreds of years, and in some cases even centuries. Now rote memorisation gets a bad rap nowadays, but it can come in very handy. For example, you can remember formulas off the top of your head. If you’re learning a foreign language can help you with memorisation of various items like vocabulary retention. If you were learning some mechanical process which required you to remember the sizes of all of the adapter assemblies and they were various sizes from 13 mm to 110mm you could use these techniques to do that.

Lets get into it. Today we’ll discuss Mnemonics techniques. Mnemonics is a word derived from the old Greek Goddess of memory. The systems we’ll talk about today aren’t new. For example, the System of Loci dates back to 500 BC. Mnemonics refer to a technique to improve memory and they can be either visual or verbal. They normally add something to the information to be memorised in order to make it more memorable, so many scientists researching memory call them elaborations.

The first of the three basic mnemonics we’ll talk about it rhyming. You’ll probably know this one from the rhyme beginning “Thirty days has September…” and if you’re like me, “Thirty days has September, and the rest I don’t remember.”

This is an example of using a verbal technique to elaborate the memory. But remembering months and the number of days can be done with a visual technique also. If you hold your hands out in front of you and make a fist, the knuckle of the little finger is January, the valley between that and the next knuckle is February and so on. So all the “knuckle months” have 31 days and the rest are short months.

Today I’m going to cover number of mnemonic systems, both visual and verbal. The first two were really easy and straightforward, and the remainder require some actual upfront learning, and can take some preparation before you can actually begin to use.

The first two that we can discuss are easy and anyone can use them. They require no previous knowledge or ability or system.

The first one is simply creating a word from the initial characters of the thing that you want to remember. This is called an acronym. You may or may not know that laser stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. You can use the word homes to describe the great lakes in the United States. Homes will give you a memory prompt for the names; Lake Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Eire and Superior. There is also Roy G Biv. Which is a prompt for colours of the rainbow.

You can use this type of mnemonic really easily. You just have to take the information and organise it in a way that can come up with a word. When doing this if you come across two issues. The first issue is if it needs to be learned in order then you cannot necessarily use this type of mnemonic, because unless it accidentally becomes a word you can’t rearrange the letters.

But if you can rearrange the information and you can rearrange it into a word that the second problem that you may have with this method is that there isn’t sufficient amount of words that are long enough to encode all the information.

So if you encounter these problems you’re better off using a sentence rather than a word. These types of prompts are called Acrostics. Here you make a sentence using the first letter of the words you wish to recall.

Sentence systems like the one to remember the planets of the solar system where you put each letter rather than representing a ladder, you have a word that represents the initial information.

For example: My Very Excited Mother Just Served Us New Potatoes.

Of course now that scientists have demoted Pluto from being a planet, you’ll need a new sentence to memorise the planets in order from the sun.

Both Acronyms and Acrostic sentences are a great way to remember information, but if you want to remember things like PI to 50 decimal places, or countries and capitals, or simply a lot of related or ordered information then some of the next few techniques are more useful. But some require some up front work.

The first system we’ll discuss if a simple one and easy to use. It is called the Link or Chain system. Here you simply link concepts or things together two at a time. For example if you needed to remember 5 things such as; Doctor, Car, Candle, Rose, Ball then you would chain them together by first imagining a Car riding on a doctors back. Images which are unusual or out of the orginary are more easily remembered. The you imagine the car covered in hundreds of burning candles moving slowly forward as not to blow them out. Movement in visual images are also helpful. Then you imaging a rose bush growing out of a candle, or perhaps a candle holder with a burning rose instead of a candle. Then you link rose and ball by perhaps a rose bush playing soccer, or two people playing catch with a rose instead of a ball.

An improvement on this technique is called the Story. Here instead of linking the items to each other, you tell a story which includes the items. For example, The doctor was jumping up and down screaming because he lost the keys to his car, so he made a key from wax using a candle and managed to drive to the rose garden where he began to operate on a giant plastic ball.

These two systems are easy to use and very useful, however, people often struggle to remember more than 20 items using these methods. This is normally because of the limitation of remembering each item based on its association with the previous item.

Another system which doesn’t have this limitation and which I mentioned earlier is from 500 BC can is called the Loci system. Loci is the plural of locus and means places or locations. This system requires some pre-learning before you can use it. It is a two step process and the first step is to memorise a set of locations in order. Normally you would use something familiar to yourself such as your house. The second step is to mentally place the thing you want to remember in a place as you move through your loci.

So to create your loci or memory palace as they are sometimes called start with somewhere familiar. Lets use your home as the example. First imagine yourself approaching the house and the first loci may be your front door. Inside you walk in and see the hallway. The next room might be your kitchen, then a bedroom. You just need to imagine a journey through your house, room to room and always go the same way.

Now just take a mental walk through your house putting things in different rooms. When you want to remember them, you simply walk through the house again and remember the things you put there. You might thing you don’t have enough rooms to remember what you need, but loci doesn’t have to be just the room. It could be the living room, the sofa, the chair, the lamp, the bookshelf in the corner. Which turns the living room from one loci into 5, and if you include floor, ceiling and 4 walls then you’ve got a dozen loci in a single room of your house.

In addition you can have as many of these loci journeys or memory palaces as you’d like. The loci system allows you to remember things in order, starting with the first locus and carrying on through your journey.

Another way to explain the loci system is to put a story in a locus using the story or link methods. This will increase the amount of information density you can store in a single place.

One of the disadvantages of the Loci system is it is difficult to jump to a certain section of the list which you’ve memorised. If you want to jump to the thing in place eleven you’ll probably end up starting in the first locus and counting until you get to 11.

The next method we’ll discuss works around that limitation. It is called the Peg system. The peg system can be traced back to Henry Herdson who developed it back in the 1600’s. The peg system uses objects to represent numbers and then hangs information on to these pegs.

The system uses rhyming to remember encode the numbers to the objects.

1-bun

2-shoe

3-tree

4-door

5-hive

6-sticks

7-heaven

8-gate

9-wine

10-hen

So if we link our previous examples: Doctor eating a giant bun, A car with shoes instead of wheels, a tree made from a candle, a rose growing out of a door, and little small soccer balls flying into a bee hive.

This allows us to jump straight to the number 4 door which has a rose growing out of it.

One of the drawbacks to the peg method is finding rhyming words for numbers above 10.

A method for learning numbers above 10 is the major system. The major system associated consonants with the numbers 0-9 and then you can build up words based on these building blocks.

0 is represented by S, Z or soft C

1 is t,d

2 is n

3 m

4 r

5 L

6 sh, ch, j, g, zh

7 k, hard c, hard g, hard ch, q, qu

8 fv

9 pb

after you have memorised this list you can then use it to build words for numbers. For example the number 123 might be represented by the word DeNiM (denim) because it contains D, N, M in the word and you know D=1 N=2 and M=3

Many people recommend generating fixed images / words to represent the numbers 0-100 so that you can use them quickly.

Another method is called the Dominic method and is similar to the Major system. This was invented by 8 times memory champion Dominic O’Brien. It is a PA (or person-action) system where you memorise the numbers 0-100 where each number is represented by a person and each person has an action. In the Dominic method the numbers 0-9 are represented by O,A,B,C,D,E,S,G,H,N. So the number 15 would be AE and this might Albert Einstein and he is writing E=MC2 on a blackboard.

I have used this system & a memory palace to memorise PI to about 50 decimal points. So the first few are:

3.14157265

For me this is 3 Pies at the front door (3. ), then Arthur Dent writing on a blackboard (1415), in the next room Napoleon Bonaparte is playing with a train-set (7265), and I could go on.

I have have recently been using this system and memory palaces to memorise a French dictionary. I’ve managed to memorise 7 pages with about 50 words per page so far. Which is about 350 words, with IPA pronunciation, spelling and translations.

For a lot of people these sorts of things are tricks, and you can’t use them to learn. But people have been using these tricks to remember everything from names of the great lakes to speeches for many hundreds of years. So they do work, but like anything you have to put some work into them.

If you’re interested in finding out more about these techniques and many others go to The Art of Memory forum. I’ll put a link in the show notes. You can download their free book and look at the various discussions they have about the pros and cons of each technique.

Well that is it for me this week, and next week we will cover study methods which aren’t using mnemonics but are still systems which you can learn and use methodically and intentionally to study your chosen topics.

Thanks for listening and as always if you have any feedback I would love to hear from you. You can email me at: rick@autodidactic.info.

EP5: Using Flashcards for Study

Welcome to the Autodidactic Podcast with your host Rick Dearman.

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to the show. Today we’re going to discuss flashcard learning.

If you’re new to the show would like to welcome you and if you are returning, I’d like to welcome you back. As always, I really, really enjoy getting feedback for this show. So if you’re interested in giving me some feedback, you can email me at rick@autodidactic.info. You can make comments on the website as well where I will be uploading the show notes for this show as well as others.

Flash card learning is something that I do every single day, mostly with regards to language learning. But I also use it for other things as well, and today I’m gonna go through how to use flash cards and how to create flashcards so that they’re more memorable and useful to you. I recommend that if you have a smart phone or computer or something available that you try and get a hold of a program called Anki (ANKI), which is an electronic flash card system, and it’s free for most devices. I think Apple phones you have to pay for, but everything else is free. But there are other electronic flash card programs available.

But what we’re going to discuss today can be used either with the electronic versions or with the paper version flashcards like you may have used in school long ago. So let’s get it started. If you’ve got Anki or an app that you’re going to use, you generally need to set up an account, and you’re going to need some way of importing this into the system.

Now Anki uses a CSV file, which you can generate with Excel or LibreOffice, or you can open the program and input them manually. Now, in addition to just text electronic flashcards generally support sound as well as images. So rather than just write some text, you can have images and audio.

There is a program which I have done a video tutorial on YouTube about how to create what’s called subs2SRS, which is subtitles to spaced repetition. But that’s if you’re learning a language. You’ll be able to use the subtitles of the film to help you learn, and I’ll put links in the show notes to that.

But this is one of the reasons that I would recommend that you use an electronic flash card system as opposed to a paper one. Since it’s much easier to get audio and video into flashcards nowadays. One of the other reasons for an electronic version is fonts and colouring. The reason for this is generally you can use different fonts for different subjects to help you; give you some context when you’re memorizing things, but you don’t need an electronic version for this.

So if you, for example, were learning nouns in French, which have a gender either masculine or feminine, you might want to put yellow cards as masculine and blue cards as feminine, for example, or whatever you want. But that is one way of using context to give you some indication of the flashcards type.

Now there are two basic concepts behind flashcards, and that is active recall testing and spaced repetition. Now, active recall is something we talked about in previous episodes, where you basically test yourself on the subject that you’re learning and that testing the active recall forces you to recall what you’ve learned.

Spaced repetition is a learning technique which uses increasing intervals of time between the reviews of previously learned material in order to exploit a phenomenon where humans more easily remember or learn things when they’re studied a few times over the space of a long time.

So with any learning method, there are very good and very bad practices for anything. What I’m gonna explain here is the best practices for you to follow when creating flashcards and studying them.

And one of the very first things that I recommend is that you make your own flashcards. If you use an electronic flash card system like Anki, you can download pre-made decks for just about everything from languages to biology, chemistry, mathematics, you name it. There will be a pre-made deck for it. But part of the learning process, I believe, is actually creation of your own flashcards, using your own context and your own methods and I think this is gonna help you more than just downloading a pre-made deck.

Now, having said that, there are some quite good pre-made decks for things like mathematics, which you probably don’t want to expend the time to do yourself when the actual learning is straightforward. So, for example, multiplication tables or square roots, etcetera. They’re pretty simple; Question on the front, Answer on the back type cards. You can also get pre-made paper cards, certainly for vocabulary and things from places like Amazon. But again, I recommend that you just make your own cards.

Now the second thing about flashcards is you should never try and memorize what you don’t understand. So if you’re making a flash card, you need to understand the the topic in which you’re making the card about. You know, a parrot can just repeat sentences, but it doesn’t understand what it’s saying. So when you’re making the flashcards, it’s going to ingrain this information into your head in a spaced repetition system. So if you just made a card that said !22W2! and you looked at it repeatedly, you would actually learn that. But it doesn’t actually mean anything and is of no use. So make sure that you understand what you are putting onto your flash card.

The next thing is to relate the information on the card to some other context, so related information is much easier to memorize. If you have multiple associations in your mind, you will remember it. So every piece of our information in our memory is connected to other pieces in another way. For example, if you’re given the word pear, you may think of something green and round and sweet and pear shaped, and it’s from a tree, and it’s a fruit on. It’s made into cider, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, so there’s lots of associations with the word pear. So try and make a many associations as you can with the card, and you might want to make multiple cards relating to each other so that the information reinforces itself.

The next thing is to start with the basics. So if you’re a beginner, you need to start with the basics of the information. And you might want to keep separate decks of basic information versus more advanced information, which builds on your basic deck. And just try and keep it as basic and simple as possible. And once you have completed the basic cards, move on to the more advanced.

The next thing is the KIS Principal. K.I.S (keep it simple). Don’t try and put every piece of information you have about a concept on one single card. Complex cards are difficult to memorize, and you need to chunk up this information. It’s a smaller bits and pieces, so you try and break up the information on to multiple cards while keeping the information per card as simple as possible.

So, for example, on language card, you may have six congregations of verb in the present tense. Well, rather than put all six congregations on one card, it would be better to create a card for the first person card for second person, etcetera, etcetera. Whatever the subject you’re studying, you need to simplify the information as much as you can.

Now. The next thing and this sort of only applies to electronic versions of cards is to use close deletion cards where possible. A closed deletion card is a, for example, a sentence, which has the information in there, but one of the words is blanked out. One of the critical words is blanked out, and you have to type it in. Now this type of card forces you to actively recall. You can’t just press the next button and be given the answer. You have to type it in so these types of cards are very, very useful in forcing you to actively recall what the word is, which completes the sentence. And it may not be a word, it maybe, if you’re doing mathematics, it might be one variable of the formula, for example. So these types of cards are very useful and I highly recommend them.

Wherever possible, try and use images because, as they say, a picture is worth 1000 words and as human beings we’re of quite visual creatures on its very easy to link pictures and images in your mind to various bits of information. This can be done on paper flashcards as well. You can print out images and use them in your flashcards, etcetera. It’s very easy on electronic version.

When you create cards trying, use as many senses as possible. Now, obviously, even on electronic one you’re not going to get the sense of smell. But you can put the word on a flash card. You can put the picture of the thing on the flash card. You can put a linked to a sound of what’s being said on it or some other form of sound, so sight and sound can be done, and it’s very easy to manage that.

Try and avoid sets of information. This goes back to the KIS principle of keeping it simple. It’s almost impossible to memorize a set without forgetting some numbers and typically, things in the middle of the set are almost invariably forgotten, because we tend to remember things at the beginning of a list or at the end of the list, and not so much the stuff in the middle.

Don’t set up your cards with a set of information. Break that set up into smaller cards or close deletion cards. Try to not just learn in one direction or the other. So what I mean by that is an example. If you’re learning vocabulary is that you might have always put the French word on the front of the card and the English on the back. Well, actually, you need two cards. You need one where English is on the front and another where French is on the front, for example. And you do this the same on, other study cards. You need to have a reversible card that presents the same information and the same question in the other direction.

Okay, When you’re creating your decks, try and keep a theme for each deck. So this is similar to the rule about related information. So, for example, if you have a deck about the circulatory system, only have things in there about the circulatory system and have a completely separate set of cards for the respiratory system. If you were studying biology.

For languages, it’s the same thing. You have a theme for animals, and then you have another one for kitchen utensils, but you try and keep them separate.

Now the other thing is to try and make sure that you only have one point per flashcard again. This is stressing the not having sets of information and not trying to put all the information on one card. But you need to have one fully comprehensive point on the card. Now, if that means that this card is particularly large or long, that’s fine. But it needs to only consist of that single point of information. So you’re dedicating one concept to each card, and hopefully one question with one answer.

Wherever possible, you should try and use sentences for your question and sentences for your answer, rather than just image cards, but enhance that question with images and sounds. Try and commit to completing your allotted amount of flashcards every day.

Now, how do you a lot yourself Flashcards? Well, if you’re using electronic program, it will allocate that for you based on whatever for algorithm it uses. If you’re using a paper flashcard system, then typically what you would do is you would have it in a file card system and you have today’s cards. And if this is your first day, then you say you start with 10 cards and you do them until you’ve learned them all, and you put them in tomorrow’s card. On tomorrow you take 10 new cards and you go through those and then you go through the 10 from yesterday and see if you forgotten any. If you have forgotten them, you move them forward into tomorrow’s set. You basically carry on doing a review each time.

Now, wherever possible, try and say the answer out loud when you’re doing the flash card. This is because it helps you to retain the information because you hear yourself saying it.

Never do opposites cards. An opposite card is, for example, what is the opposite of hot in French. This only leads to confusion, and you start to mix up the concepts of hot and cold, and things don’t don’t do opposite. Ask what is cold in French. Don’t use what is the opposite of hot. So whenever you’re doing any study cards that you’re creating, try and remember not to do opposite cards and dependent on what you’re studying, you know that can become a problem, especially for vocabulary for language.

Vary your question format. In other words, don’t make all your cards the same. Some cards, maybe question cards, try and come up with other types of cards that aren’t just questions that they are asking you to do an explanation. One of the methods I use to create a different type of card when studying a language, for example, would be to create a card that says; practice grammar point A practice grammar point B and then you go away and study for 10 minutes on that particular point of grammar. So this isn’t giving you a easy question answer thing. It is directing you to study this particular topic for five minutes. That type of card is also useful because it’s prompts you at different times to do different things.

Okay, so memorizing using flash cards is a great way to help you progress in your study. Just memorization isn’t going to help you necessarily, you know, fulfil all of your requirements. You’re going to need to do other things in order to become an auto didactic learner, you’re gonna have to study other ways. But flashcards are an amazing, excellent way to take those little stolen moments of time when you’re standing in a queue or you’re waiting for something and use those to progress your study and also the creation of cards itself, works as a study.

So in order to generate the cards, you are having to ask yourself questions. You have to find the information you have to find the answers. You have to find related information. You have to simplify the information so that it fits one concept per card, etcetera, etcetera. So flashcards aren’t just a way of studying in the stolen moments they actually help you study full on while creating the cards. And this is one of the reasons I tell you not to download pre-made decks because the actual creation of the card itself will help you just as much as memorizing the card.

Okay. Thanks for listening today. And I’m glad you joined me. Next week, we’re going to talk about memory, and memorization and study skills. Thank you very much.

Thank you for listening to the auto didactic podcast with your host Rick Dearman, if you enjoyed this podcast, please consider giving a donation by a Paypal. Thank you very much, and see you again next time.

EP4: Finding Study Resources

Hello everyone and welcome. If you’re new to the podcast, I want to welcome you to the show and thank you for coming along. If you want to listen to previous episodes of the show you can find the shows and the show notes on the autodidactics.info the website.

The autodidact podcast is a podcast to help self learners try and become more efficient and more effective in the way that they learn and how they proceed. You don’t have to listen to all the podcasts but I would recommend that if you hear something you don’t understand that is a reference to a previous show you should probably go back and listen.

On today’s show we’ll discuss gathering resources for your self-study sessions. The resources we’re gonna talk about today run the gamut from physical to electronic, from free to paid, and everything in between. We’ll start the show with paid resources and work our way through to the places where you can get free resources at the end of the show. As always I like to solicit feedback and suggestions for my show from listeners so if you would like to give some feedback on the show you can feel free to email me at rick@autodidactic.info where I’m happy to take suggestions.

It’s been a busy week for me this week as I’m recording the show I’ve managed to overwhelm myself with resources and I’m struggling to make my way through all of them. I got a large number of SRS cards or spaced repetition cards to get through and it’s becoming a bit of a torture to get through all 400 or 500 cards per day.

However, hopefully at the end of the show you will have gained some insight into where to get yourself some resources for your study times and you might have the dubious pleasure of having too many resources as well.

I’ve got a large number of dead tree formatted books to read and a lot of electronic books as well. I’m also attempting to improve my memory and recall using some of the memory methods in use today such as a memory Palace, or the Dominic method, et cetera. Just for fun I had a go at memorising Pi to 25 decimal points and honestly it was very easy but unless you continue to hone and test yourself I think you can rapidly forget some of the things which you use these systems to memorise. In a later show I’ll discuss some of the methods for memorization.

Right, let’s get into today’s show. Today were gonna talk about where to get resources for your study. I will put links to any place I mention on the Internet in the show notes.

Let’s begin with paid resources.

As the name would suggest these are resources for which you have to pay money. These include things like purchasing books off of Amazon, paying for a tutor, paying for a class, or paying for a subscription to an online training course. Now depending on what your topic is you may have a wide variety of paid resources which you can use. Generally these type of resources are going to be very high quality, simply because people have an expectation of quality when they’re paying.

Let’s look at some of the resources available to you today.

Amazon

Abe books

World of books.com

Cheapesttextbooks.com

Ebay

These are just a sample of places on the Internet where you can purchase textbooks. Abe books sells mostly used books but with delivery all around the world.

With Amazon on you have access to not only textbooks but workbooks, sample tests and many other items of study. So purchasing resources is pretty straightforward and shouldn’t really be difficult for anyone to do.

Additional resources might include online tutoring, for example if you’re learning a language you can go to iTalki.com and schedule lessons with teachers or tutors in the language in which you want to learn.

A number of websites have sprung up in recent years on the Internet where you can get video instruction. Probably the largest one of these is Udemy.com but there are many others including Pluralsite if you are interested in programming languages.

In addition to paid sites let’s move on to sites which are technically free, but have some payment requirements. These type of sites are exchange sites which are technically free but you pay for some postage.

In the UK I use a website called readitswapit.co.uk where you put up a list of books that you no longer want and you can swap these books for books other people no longer want. On the website you agree to do an exchange and then you both post each other the books that you’ve selected. Here the service itself is free however you pay for the postage of sending your books to the other person.

Now in addition to the paid and semi free resources there are a number of resources which are absolutely free. I suspect most of my listeners are going to be interested in this category of resources. If you’re anything like me you struggle to find the money for everything you need and want to do. This means we need to be very frugal in our approach to becoming autodidactic.

One of the very first free resources I would like to discuss is available to just about everybody in a first world country as well as available to a number of other countries. This is your local library.

If you have the ability to go to a local library you should take every opportunity to join support and use your local library. If there is a library system in your country this is going to be one of the best free resources you will ever find for self-education. For example, the reason that I am currently having an overabundance of resources to use is because I overbooked checkouts from my local library. I am very privileged in that my local library allows me to browse their collection online reserve the book online and have it delivered to my local library from other branch libraries in the same system.

So although my local library branch is very small, smaller than most peoples living rooms, I have access to dozens of other larger libraries.

In addition to books, videos, and audio materials, my local library also gives me access to Internet databases, language courses, and other online subscriptions that I can use for free via my library card. It is well worth a visit to your local library to find out what is available to you.

The next free resource like to discuss is the Internet. And while I realise that were all paying for access to the Internet most of the resources that I’m going to discuss are available for download for free. So ignoring the cost of the actual Internet connection let’s talk about these resources.

There are a number of organisations and people who release textbooks under a creative Commons or public domain licence. You can download a number of these directly from the sites. An Internet search will provide you with a number of other sites but I will give these three honourable mention.

people.math.gatech.edu

openculture.com/free_textbooks

open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/

This last website has a large number of textbooks available for humanities, business, computer science, law, mathematics, social sciences, and education. Because these textbooks are published under a share alike licence then you will be able to get this information for free. These are actually high-quality textbooks written and used by universities but published on the Internet for free.

And finally the last thing I’d like to discuss is MOOCs. Which stands for massive open online courses. These courses are generally open to everyone and anyone who has access to the web and computer meets the basic requirements for enrolment there is no physical classroom and there is no limit to the size of students.

They are generally free however some providers do charge a small fee normally in exchange for a certificate of completion or other non-degree credit earned. Some do offer an academic course credit but the student normally has to be formally enrolled in the academic institution which gives the class.

Given that the classes online and anyone can sign up the coursework is generally self-paced so you can dive in at your own pace and at your own time. Unless the class is a scheduled event then you have to sign up to get some sort of grading or credit then there will typically be some sort of examination or a rough schedule for completion.

So one of the major providers is Coursera. But a great place to find a comprehensive listing is mooc.org which has a searchable database. Open Culture website also maintains a long list.

Although there is no requirement for you to take prerequisite course for any of these courses you might want to review pre-requisites before you jump in. This is because you may need some basic level of knowledge that you may or may not have.

If you’re interested in one of these courses things to do are:

  • Figure out your reason for taking it, e.g. do you need a certificate or not.
  • Determine if there is a pre-requisite required.

  • Confirm any technical requirements. Normally technical requirements is simply access to a web browser however some courses you may need special software in order to access or view the materials such as a PDF reader and while most computers or have the ability and the necessary software some computers with older operating systems may not be able to manage.
  • You will need to register with the course provider, typically this is just a name and email address but it may ask you for your academic history or relevant work experience.
  • You have to pay a fee if it’s applicable, and applied to the relevant academic institution if this course is for a credit.

When you sign up you definitely need to check out the course overview the platform and the course requirements before course actually starts if you don’t you may end up falling behind. Many of these courses also have forum discussions and you may find it useful to participate in discussions in order to get the most out of the materials.

Okay everyone, that is it for today. I hope that you found this information useful and that you’ll be able to find all the resources you need in order to self-study. Once again if you have any comments or feedback or questions please feel free to email me at: rick@autodidactic.info. You can also leave comments on the website about resources I didn’t mention.

Thank you once again for listening and I hope that you will join me next time. In the next podcast I will be discussing flashcard creation, and using the stolen moments of time in your day in order to help you progress. I will make some recommendations about space repetition software but will mainly focus on how to create useful flashcards whether they be on paper or electronic.

EP3: Using your study time

In this episode we’ll discuss what to do with your study time.

Welcome to the Autodidactic Podcast with your host Rick Dearman.

Hello and welcome to the Autodidactic Podcast, Episode Three – Season One. If you’re a new listener, I’d like to welcome you and encourage you to give feedback on this show by emailing me at rick@auodidactic.info, and you can visit our website where you’ll find the show notes and transcriptions of this podcast.

On today’s show, we’re gonna be talking about what to do with the study time that you have and how to create a study plan. I’ll give you some suggestions for how you can take the topics we discussed today and generate a study plan template that you can use as an autodidactic or polymath.

But don’t get too obsessed with the creation of the perfect study plan. As General George Patton said; a good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.

Today we’re gonna talk about three things. Study frequency. Inter-leaving and testing. These three things together will probably do more for your study and retention than just about anything else you can do. The problem with these, of course, is that they’re difficult

But if you’re aware of them and you can work them into your study time, it will help you improve significantly. After we cover these topics and discuss them in greater detail, I’ll move on and briefly discuss something called a reverse revision timetable, and finally, we’ll talk about a study plan.

In the last podcast, I left you with something to think about. So let’s return to the question I asked, which was; Is it better to study four subjects for 15 minutes a day or each subject for one hour over the course of four days? Well, the answer is that there is no correct answer, but research indicates that spacing is more beneficial for long term learning. So by dividing up the four subjects into 15 minute intervals and studying each of them every day, the primary benefit is that you’re forgetting curve is less.

Longer periods of time between study sessions mean that you’re more likely to forget more about the previous session. But because you’re studying a subject every day, albeit for a limited amount of time, you’re not forgetting as much and the following day you’re reinforcing your memory.

In addition, other studies have shown that students who cram for an hour for an examination or quiz will generally score the same as students who studied for shorter periods over the previous week. However, on subsequent examinations of the same material, the students who studied small amounts of material more frequently over time, rather than cramming, remembered almost 50% more than the students who took the second examination. [should have been: However, on subsequent examinations of the same material, the students who studied small amounts of material more frequently over time, rather than cramming, remembered almost 50% more than the cramming students in a second examination.]

So what does this tell us? Well, by breaking up the material into smaller pieces and reviewing it more frequently, students had a higher retention rate than students who simply crammed for the examination the next day. So if you only want to learn enough to pass a test, cramming will work fine. But if you’re attempting to learn a lifelong skill or create a knowledge base then breaking it up, and reviewing it more frequently is a much, much better way to go.

In fact, in another research study, they broke three sets of students up and ask them to learn 50 Spanish words in eight sessions. The sessions for each group were broken up into the next day, the next week or the next month. For example, the first group had one session every day for eight days. The next group had one session every week for eight weeks, etcetera.

So then these three groups of people were tested eight years later. And the people who learned the words in eight sessions over eight months still remembered 50% of the vocabulary, whereas the other students were significantly lower in their percentages of recall.

Another advantage of short but focus study sessions is that you’re more focused and therefore more likely to retain the information. In a long study session your mind will have a tendency to wander, and you’ll not be is focused on the task as you would be if you knew that it was just a simple, short but intense session of study.

So research has shown that spacing out your learning has a benefit on retention. In addition, inter-leaving of information or methods can increase retention. Inter-leaving is simply using multiple sources for your study or multiple methods for your study.

So in one research study students were asked to look at paintings which were grouped by artists, and another set of students were asked to look at the exact same paintings but were in a random order. The students had to critique the paintings and understand the differences between them all. So students who looked at paintings in a random order were better able to remember the critique of the paintings.

You can use interweaving in your own studies by mixing resources So for example, if you are attempting to remember a specific grammatical usage of a word in a foreign language, you might want to read the grammar book description and then looked through another fiction book for an example of that grammatical usage. Or listen to a native speaker who is using that grammatical method in in a sentence. You might mix up Resource is by studying two different books at the same time. Inter-leaving or mixing up as much as possible is a very useful strategy.

The third topic is testing, and as a self learner, you’re probably not going to have a test administered to you by a third party. But research has shown that a large part of the retention of information is being tested on the information.

For example, the more times you have to remember a phone number in order to dial it, the easier it becomes to remember the phone number. And although most people would today society keep their numbers on smartphones, the principal stays the same. Use it or lose it.

At the University of Louisville, psychologist Keith Lyle PhD used a captive audience of his students, his undergraduate class, to prove a point in one 75 person class. At the end of each class session, he asked students to complete a 4 to 6 question short quiz about the material that had been presented during that lecture. Cumulatively, the quizzes counted for just 8% of the final grade.

He also taught a second class using the same syllabus, but didn’t give daily quizzes, and at the end of the semester, he found that students in the quiz class significantly outscored students in the non quiz class in all four midterm examinations.

So although most professors won’t use daily quizzes in their courses, students can and should test themselves by asking questions after each study session. Now, as a self learner, the results of Professor Lyle’s daily quizzes shouldn’t go unnoticed. This is something you can do for yourself easily and practically for the last few minutes of your study period or while you are studying, simply write out a small quiz of what you have studied. It’s relatively easy to generate a question from a paragraph that you just read, and you can use this quiz not on yourself that day, but on your future self tomorrow. So in effect each day you create tomorrow’s daily quiz for yourself. So at the start of your study session, you answer your queries from yesterday and that the end of your session you generate a quiz for tomorrow.

Okay, so let’s bring all of this research together, and how do we apply it? Well, the first thing to do is identify key facts and areas of study. Think about the key sets of facts and areas that you’re going to want to remember 20 years from now or next year or next week. At the end of each study session generated quiz for yourself. Break all of the big ideas into smaller pieces that can easily be quized and try and study from more than one resource at a time.

Try to compare and contrast the information in the various resource is that you’re using, so that covers the three topics of spacing, inter-leaving and testing. Now let’s move on to something I like to call reverse revision timetable.

Of course, I’m not the first person to have used or promoted the reverse revision timetable, but I would like to discuss it, since many people will not have used reverse revision timetable and have only be aware of a revision timetable, which was typically used in school or when studying.

A revision timetable is simply scheduling the time you will use to revise when you have learned a class or a textbook. So, for example, the typical revision timetable will say; On the second of August, I will study the circulatory system; On the third of August, I will study the respiratory system and it goes on like this.

However, one of the problems with this revision timetable is that it doesn’t actually allow you to focus in on the things that you’re having problems with because you are simply doing it in the order in which it was scheduled, and it is bound only to a time-frame.

A reverse revision timetable is different because it focuses on the subject, and the time frame is secondary. To create a reverse revision timetable, you would first list the subjects you’re going to study and not worry about the times that you’re going to study them.

So if we were to use a spreadsheet, you would open it up and in column A you might write a list of 10 subjects that you plan to study or revise. Then what you do is in column B beside the subject that you have studied that day, you write in the date that you studied and you give it a colour coding known as a rag status.

A rag status is a project management term, which stands for Red, Amber, Green. Red means there is a problem, and something needs to be done about this immediately. Amber is a warning colour, saying that there’s a potential problem that needs to be dealt with. And green means everything’s good

Now, on the first pass of a reverse revision timetable, you work down through your list of 10 topics, for example, studying the circulatory system and then the respiratory system, etcetera, etcetera, and after you’ve completed all 10 subjects, you go back and review the rag status of each of those topics. And the next thing you study is one of the red subjects.

So, for example, if you had colour coded, the respiratory system has Red but the circulatory system was green. You would do the respiratory system before the circulatory system. So you study all of the red subjects until you’ve done them all one more time and you colour code those and then you do all of the amber. And on the third pass, you look for more red or amber subjects.

You’ll notice that we ignore Green in this example, because if it was green, it means you already know it. And you simply continue to do this each time, working on the Red and Amber’s to try and make them all Green.

The benefit of this method is that you’re focusing your attention specifically on the items which you are struggling with. In the normal revision timetable, you study the subject again on the next date it’s due. Whether you know it or not, so this is sub optimal. If you want to ensure that you understand the various topics that you’re studying, you should always be studying the thing that you don’t understand or the thing that you understand the least.

Now, Finally, I’d like to outline my suggested study plan template. Here I’m going to assume that you are learning more than one subject at a time, and I’m gonna make this simple and say that you’re only studying two topics.

In this example we’re going to say that you’re studying one foreign language, French, and you’re studying mathematics. You have one hour of dedicated study time every day, which means you’re going to break up these two topics and give them one half hour each. The very first thing you would need to do is to create a study plan.

Now, this is slightly different from your revision timetable because you haven’t actually studied anything yet. The study plan is what your future intention is to study. To create a study plan you look at the resource is that you have available for each topic one at a time.

So let’s start with French. You have one audio resource, two textbooks on a fiction book. So you decide you’re going to use the audio resource during your stolen minutes, and if you don’t know what I mean by stolen minutes, have a listen to the previous podcast. So you won’t be using your audio during this study period, so you’re going to use the two textbooks and the fiction books.

You’re going to start with the smaller textbook, and after completing each section, you will try and find the same information in the larger textbook to compare and contrast the information that they’re giving. The fiction book you will read every other study period, underlining unknown vocabulary and putting them into flash cards, and you will use the flash cards in those stolen minutes. And that will be your study plan for the next month.

For your study of mathematics, it’s very similar. You have four mathematics books, basic math, algebra, trigonometry and geometry. You decide that you will do them in the order of basic math, geometry and trigonometry. But you will use the algebra book every other day while making your way through the other three books over time. In hopes that this inter leaving of algebra with the other maths books will help for the retention of all, or at least give you some ability to see, compare and contrast the subjects.

Finally, you open up your spreadsheet and you list your topics. You break the topics down into sub-categories as much as possible and as appropriate. You decide that each month you will collect up all of the daily quizzes that you generate, and you will take them all as one big test each month.

So in addition to daily quizzes, your daily quiz becomes a large test at the end of each month. And the results of these monthly examinations will be used as indicators for your reverse time table revision.

So let’s say, for example, you had divided your French into two sub-categories vocabulary and grammar, and in your monthly exam, you see that you should be studying grammar more frequently. This allows you to modify the next month study session and focus on grammar. So the results of your testing and you’re quizzing and your revision allows you to look forward to the next month and create a new plan.

Now you don’t have to use this study template because you’re studying something might be radically different from what I study. However, I think the principle of using daily tests monthly exam and a reverse revision timetable will help you to maintain a steady schedule and record your progress as a self learner.

That’s it for today, and I’d like to thank you for listening to today’s podcast in the next podcast, I’m going to cover Gathering Resource is in order to study as a self learner. There are a large number of free and legal resource is available to you as a self learner on the Internet today. You can get textbooks written by colleges and universities, as well as professors who are releasing textbooks under Creative Commons licences that allow you to print them or use them, as you see fit. There are apps to help with spaced repetition or memorization, their language learning apps, their courses that have been released into the public domain. So in addition to all this free and legal resource on the Internet, there’s also paid subscriptions, other websites where you can get additional resource is and will cover all of that, as well as libraries, used book-stores, charity shops and other places to gather materials in the next podcast.

Thank you for listening to the auto didactic podcast with your host Rick Dearman, if you enjoyed this podcast, please consider giving a donation by a Paypal. Thank you very much, and see you again next time.

EP2: Time Management

This episode we’ll talk about how to find time for self-learning.

Episode Two, Season One

Welcome to the autodidactic podcast with your host Rick Dearman.

Hi, and welcome to the autodidactic podcast. This is Episode Two, Season One and I’m your host, Rick Dearman.

If you’re a first time listener, I want to welcome you to the show, and I’m glad that you’re visiting. If you haven’t already, please visit the website autodidactic.info where you’ll find links to all the show and to the show notes, which contain any links to anything I talk about on the show.

Today, I want to discuss time management. Why? Because when you’re going to study, when are you going to find time to study if you can’t manage your time effectively? So I’m going to cover most of the basic things about time management and some important ways to steal time. Later in the show. I’ll tell you what I found to be the most effective way of keeping on top of studying by the use of what I like to call dead time.

If you’re interested in giving me feedback about the show or suggestions, please email me at rick@ autodidactic.info. I’ve had some feedback already from beta listeners and I’m shaping the episodes for the rest of the season accordingly. I’ve been struggling to get everything related to the podcast done while still continuing my own study regime. So, I know your pain if you’re struggling to implement some of the stuff we’re going to talk about today.

I quoted to one of my friends recently; If you love life than value time, because that is what life is made of and remember: you don’t have to be perfect just better than you were yesterday.

Okay, so let’s talk about prioritization using four quadrants. Imagine you’re drawing a square on a piece of paper and then split the square in the middle from top to bottom with another line and then split it again from left to right.

Let’s discover prioritization using this square and it’s four quadrants. Imagine that you put a label on the bottom line called urgency on a label on the left-most line as importance. So the point at the bottom of our square zero and the level of urgency grows as you move to the right and the importance see grows as you move up.

Now imagine you’re writing a letter in each quadrant. In the bottom left quadrant of the square, we’re going to put the letter A.

A represents things which are not important and are not urgent. As we move along the right, to the right quadrant, on the bottom will mark this one is B. Because B is urgent, but it’s not important.

Now if we go to the top left quadrant we’ll mark, this one as C. That is because it’s important but not urgent.

And finally, we’ll put the letter D into the top right quadrant because this is both urgent and important.

Now. If you were to take your to do list and categorize every action that you have to do as A, B, C or D, then you’ll be able to see the priorities of your to do list. So my suggestion is that you would immediately strike out anything that you marked as A. Why? Well, because they’re not important and they’re not urgent, and they will just suck up your time and not let you get on to other things.

Once upon a time, there was a professor who showed his class a glass tube, which he then filled with well rocks, and he asked the class if it was full when he had got to the top and they all said yes. And then the professor reached under his desk and pulled out a bag of sand, which he then poured into the glass container. Then he told them that it was full.

But had he done it the other way around and filled it with sand first, he would have never got the rocks in. Now the point here is to not fill your day with small, unimportant tasks. You need to do the big stuff first, which means you need to schedule time for it.

Now if we go back to your to do list and we looked at the items that were marked as category B, these are urgent, but not important. And here you need to use some discretion, but you should probably just ignore all of these or as many of them you can as well, because they’re not important.

So finally we’re left with C and D. Well, you’re gonna need to work on things marked D, because not only are they important they’re also urgent. But D is a funny category because if you looked at the things that are in D you can probably see that at some point in the past, the things that we’re now categorized as D, urgent and important, probably sat for awhile in category C because it was important and it’s always been important, but until recently, it hasn’t become urgent, and you weren’t working on it.

One of the things that generally tends to sit in category C for most people is self education, career enhancement, that sort of thing. And these things don’t get moved into quadrant D, typically until it’s too late. So, for example, you may have had a goal of learning a second language and that sits in category C. But you can’t wait until two weeks before you arrive in country to start, because you’re never going to get it done. You should have been working on it when it was in Category C, long before it ever got into Category D. And many things in self education, self improvement or career enhancement tend to fall into category C.

Now, time management really isn’t about managing time because, quite honestly, you can’t manage time. It isn’t like managing money. You can’t borrow it. You can’t sell it. You can’t buy it. You can’t loan it out and you don’t get any interest on it.

The universe is very equal and fair. All humans, insects, birds, mammals, absolutely everything, and everyone, gets exactly 86,400 seconds each day. No more, no less. How you use those seconds are up to you.

So if you’re listening to this podcast and chances are you’re aware that time is ticking and that you need to be working on your category C stuff. Removing all of the category A and B things should help you buy some time. But one of the best things I found for studying is to put it in your calendar and schedule time to do it.

A lot of people tell you to get up an hour early to study, which should be a quick and simple solution. However, someone told me this once, and I decided that that advice is just a little bit too flippant because, you see, at the time I was getting up at five am to commute to a job. So getting up an hour earlier at 4 a.m. it wasn’t gonna happen.

But scheduling time into your day might work. So, for example, your hour at lunchtime. Getting up an hour earlier might be a solution for you, but for me, it wasn’t a solution. Now, one solution I did find is what I call studying during dead time.

What is dead time? Well, dead time is a time where I’m forced to do something, but it isn’t really productive. And a very good example of this was commuting into work on a train. I used to commute for about an hour and a half back and forth to work each day.

Which meant three hours of dead time every day, 15 hours of dead time per week. Now I could have done what most people do on the train and just read a newspaper or listen to music, or even watched the film. But I decided I was gonna put that time to work. So I studied. I studied French and Italian or I read books which I needed for career developed and that three hours a day or 15 hours a week was some of the most productive time I actually had.

But there’s other examples of dead time. For example, for a different job, I had to drive to work. Now, here too, I had a lot of dead time. It was not productive, and there wasn’t really anything I could do. What I decided to do during this time was listened to audiobooks. Or speak into a voice recorder and used the transcripts software to turn it into text. Two of the draft of some fiction books, which I have published, were written while in that car, driving back and forth to that job.

So dead time can be your friend. You just can’t waste it, and you need to find ways to use this dead time. If you’ve got an hour or two of unproductive time each day, then you need to see how you can use that time to accomplish your category C goals.

Now, another thing that a lot of people do, and some advice that is given out, is to stop watching television, since it doesn’t really help your education. And I do agree with this or as Groucho Marx once said: I find television very educational because every time someone turns on the set, I go into another room and read a book.

Everybody’s got dead time or unproductive time that you could use instead for education. But if you can’t find any of this dead time, then you’re gonna need to steal time. Now, how do you steal time?

Well, I was able to get three hours of dead time on my train journey, as I told you earlier, but I also stole time in order to study languages. If you remember the story about the professor and the sand, we view the rocks as the dead time that you were getting back these large hours here and there. Then we can look at the sand as the few minutes where we normally spend waiting for something. You’re waiting for a tea kettle to boil or for the barista to hand you your coffee. You’re waiting in a line at the bank. You’re waiting in a line for the train. You’re waiting to get a ticket.

Human beings will spend approximately six months of their life in a line waiting for something, which is about three days a year queuing up. 72 hours of time, which you can steal back every year and you can steal back this time by being prepared and using things like flash cards. So if you’ve got a flash cards already made, you can pull them out of your pocket while you’re waiting for your tea kettle to boil and you can study it.

But nowadays, with the advent of technology, you can use an app like Anki (https://ankiweb.net) which allows you to memorize just about anything. Anki is a spaced repetition software, which is available on most devices and computers. And it will allow you to memorize parts of the bodies, capitals of countries, Russian vocabulary, the periodic table, square roots, you name it. It’ll help you memorize it through space repetition. And you just need to be ready to use these moments and to steal them when they become available.

Outside of stealing time and finding dead time. As I said before, one of the best techniques I found was to schedule your study time. If you’re going to schedule it, it might be your lunch hour. It might be one hour after your children go to bed, but during that hour, or you’re dead time or the stolen seconds, you’ll be progressing in your category C tasks of the coming autodidactic.

So in closing, I hope that what I’ve shared with you today is giving you some incentive to try and manage yourself and your time a bit better. Hopefully, it’s given you the incentive to study time management in more detail. You really can’t go wrong in your quest to be an autodidactic by starting with the study of time management techniques.

In the next episode, I want to dive into the actual study time itself and look at how we divvy up this study. Now, this is especially important if you want to be a polymath on a polymath as a person who is well schooled in multiple subjects.

Now, with that in mind, I’d like you to leave you with a little question to think about until the next podcast.

Is it better to study four subjects an hour day, rotating the subjects each day? Or is it better to study each subject for only 15 minutes of your hour?

If you’re interested in giving me feedback about the show or suggestions, please email me at rick@autodidactic.info, and I’d like to thank you too, for taking the time to listen to this podcast. And I hope you feel that this was time well spent.

Thank you for listening to the auto didactic podcast with your host Rick Dearman, if you enjoyed this podcast, please consider giving a donation by a Paypal. Thank you very much, and see you again next time.

EP1: The Introduction

This is the introduction to The Autodidactic Podcast and an introduction to what we’re going to discuss this season.

Episode One – Season One

Welcome to the autodidactic podcast with your host, Rick Dearman.

Hello and Welcome to Episode one.

The first question you’re probably asking yourself is; What is an auto didactic? Well, it’s pretty simple an auto didactic is a self taught person, so a self learner, somebody who’s taught themselves the subject in great detail, but did it without necessarily classroom or a teacher.

Generally, autodidactics are individuals who choose the subject they want to study. They’ve chosen their studying material. They study rhythm, and the time is of their choosing, and the depth to which they study and gain knowledge is also completely up to them now.

In addition, many people who are autodidactic are also polymaths. A polymath is a person who’s knowledge spans a significant number of subjects. So this is somebody who’s learned not just maths, but violin or some scientific endeavour or language. Now many people have been polymaths or autodidactic. This list includes John Steinback, Mark Twain, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln and Frank Lloyd Wright and many, many, many others.

According to a recent poll of software developers, it seems that about 69.1% of all software developers are also self taught.

Now, the role of self directed learning continues to be investigated in many learning approaches, and it’s constantly evolving. Thanks to the Internet, we have colleges and universities offering more distance learning degree programs and technology providing numerous resource is to enable people to have a self directed learning experience.

So on this show, we want to discuss ways means, methods, resources and things that will help you become autodidactic. Also, hopefully, to build a community who can share resources and also talk to each other and give tips and advice about becoming a self learner, a self directed learner.

Now how do you go about becoming an auto didactic? Well, the very first step is determine what it is you want to study and commit to active learning. Now active learning occurs when a person takes control of your learning experience. Since understanding the information that you’re given as a key aspect of learning, it’s important for self directed learners to recognize what they understand, what they do not understand and how to take corrective action.

Basically, this is a form of learner autonomy, which was a phrase coined by Henry Olek in 1981. And it’s practice quite frequently in language learning, but it’s useful far, far beyond just learning a language.

This autonomy means moving the focus from the teacher to the learner and from the teaching to the learning process. The autonomy affords maximum possible influence for the learner. So it’s the learner who’s directing what needs to come next, autonomy that encourages and yet needs peer support and cooperation. You need others to talk to, others to bounce ideas off, and to learn from. And this autonomy makes use of your own self or peer assessment.

Because you’re not gonna be given a test at the end of the semester, you’re going to have to determine how much you know and how much you’ve learned by yourself. Which means you really need to be very self aware when you’re learning and to have the ability to look at what you’re doing and understand that you don’t understand this portion. You need greater clarification or some way to work on that, and that’s just part of learning how to learn OK, but a lot of the characteristics which are generally associated with autonomous learning or autodidactic or polymaths are basic resourcefulness, initiative and persistence.

Now, the most important point here is persistence. And, like our tagline says; You don’t have to be perfect just better than yesterday. But this is because we all want to be better, and we need to strive forward and be better. But we, as human beings, have a tendency to judge ourselves a bit too harshly, right? And so 90% of being auto didactic is just showing up and doing the work. Now, over the course of the next few episodes over this season, we’re gonna talk about the various things you need in order to become autodidact.

So we’re gonna have episodes on how to gather. Resource is for various types of learning, you know? How do you get textbooks? Where do you sign up for classes? How do you get books? How do you meet peers? How do you find a tutor? Et cetera?

A lot of these resource is will be free, but a lot of them you would have to pay for. So this isn’t an exercise in teaching you how to learn for free. But it is an exercise in discovering resources for learning. We’re gonna touch on how to learn languages. I do another podcast where I talk about language learning with a fellow language learner called the Lollygagging podcast.

I run a forum for language learners, which is called forum.language-learners.org where there are almost 12,000 people who are learning various languages all around the world. And there’s loads of resource is tips, tricks and things you can do to learn languages. And we’ll cover most of the important points in those episodes, and they’re probably going to be more than one episode simply because there’s so much to cover when talking about learning languages.

In another episode, I want to talk about technology skills and how to learn them. Now, for example, I’ve learned a number of programming languages at least a dozen C, C++, PERL, Python, TCL/TK You know, just loads of various programming languages, and I’ve taught myself, all of them and you know, it doesn’t surprise me that 69.1% of all software developers. Or the majority of software developers, in any case are self taught because learning a new programming language is literally just learning the syntax of the language. Once you know how to program in either object orientated programming or linear programming, learning another language isn’t that difficult as far as programming goes.

I want to cover on episode where we talk about my time management techniques. So you know, when am I going to get time to learn all this stuff? How am I gonna chop up my time if I want to learn more than one subject? How do I cover different aspects of learning in the time I’ve got allotted? How do I steal the minutes from my day to add to my knowledge and capabilities?

And then I want to cover things like, how do I find tests to see how much I’ve learned? How do I get an evaluation? How can I do a self evaluation to discover? Well am I any good at this or not?

So those are just a few of the many topics that we’re going to cover in this season. Certainly, and I would really appreciate it if you could spend a bit of time and send me your feedback topics you would like to cover areas that you would like to explore, and I’ll try and help you as best I can to understand what it is you need to do to help progress yourself learning.

And I want to become your peer so that we share ideas with each other and with the audience as a whole. So to do that, you can feel free to email me, and then we will go on this journey forward together, getting more more information and getting better at what it is we do.

Now you’re probably asking yourself. Okay, well, what is it you’re learning at the moment? You’re that you’re the podcast host. What is it you’re learning? Well, I’ve actually got a shelf of over 17 books on mathematics ranging from fundamental mathematics to differential calculus. And I’m slowly making my way through all of those books a little bit at a time.

I’ve taught myself French and Italian, and I’m continuing to do more vocabulary work and more work with those languages, and I’m teaching myself Mandarin at the moment as well. I’m pursuing to programming languages one Rust, which is a new language and the other called Flutter, which is language used for developing applications on smartphones, tablets and televisions.

So that’s basically what I’m doing at the moment. And I’d like to review what I’m doing with you. Discuss things that I found that are working and things that I found that don’t work. Quite frequently it’s the things that don’t work that teach you how you as a person as an individual learn rather than some instruction. So as a person you need to be constantly evaluating what it is you’re doing and how you’re doing it, how you’re planning your study time, what you’re doing with that study time. What’s giving you benefit and what isn’t.

Some of the things that will look at is methods for tracking what you’re learning. So find a spreadsheet and track the number of hours that you spend on learning or track the number of modules that you’ve completed in a book. Various things that basically keep you on track and keep you on schedule, because without a plan, you’re not really going to get anywhere, and it’s okay to say; Oh, I’m going to study Mandarin for half an hour every day, but what exactly is it that you’re going to study? What materials are you going to use? And how will you know when you’re completed with that material, what the next material is going to be.

Or are you going to mix materials together? Are you going to be using a textbook, some native audio and some other form of study? So these are the sorts of things that we want to explore some of the things that we’re going to need to look into and actually get going.

So in this podcast, I really want to be as helpful and as interactive as we possibly can be. So please feel free to email me put comments on the website, and any suggestion is more than welcome.

So to sum up this obviously quite short introduction, I just like to say that I hope you join me for the entire first season. And I hope we cover the things that you want to learn that will help you become a self directed learner an autodidactic. So thank you very much for listening, and I’ll see you at the next episode.

Thank you for listening to the auto didactic podcast with your host Rick Dearman, if you enjoy this podcast, please consider giving a donation by PayPal. Thank you very much.