Little Wins: Quick Tips to Help You Effectively Learn a New Skill | Chris Dixon | Skillshare

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Little Wins: Quick Tips to Help You Effectively Learn a New Skill

teacher avatar Chris Dixon, Web Developer & Online Teacher

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (19m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Identify your learning style

    • 3. Commit

    • 4. Breaking things down

    • 5. We are all students

    • 6. Try to have fun!

    • 7. Productive hours, breaks and well being

    • 8. How to help yourself and others

    • 9. Measuring your progress

    • 10. Final thoughts

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About This Class

When learning a new skill or subject, do you ever feel overwhelmed?

In this course I will be sharing tips and experiences which have not only worked for me, but also based on the experience of teaching thousands of students how to code.

Although a lot of my experiences are based on developing websites and learning to code, the techniques and advice from this course is pretty general and can be applied to learning almost anything.

This course covers things such as how to identify what type of learning works best for you, how to break down bigger tasks, and also places importance on looking after yourself too.

Meet Your Teacher

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Chris Dixon

Web Developer & Online Teacher

Top Teacher

Hello, My name is Chris and I am a Web Developer from the UK. I am an experienced trainer leading web development bootcamps and also teaching online courses.

My main areas of interest are Vue.js, WordPress, Shopify, Javascript, eCommerce, and business. I am passionate about what I do and about teaching others. 

Whatever your reason for learning to build websites you have made an excellent career choice.

My personal motivation was to become my own boss and have more freedom and flexibility in my life. I also enjoy the technical challenge it provides and the way it constantly evolves. I built my first website back in 1999 and I have watched the web evolve into what it is today.

I try to make my courses enjoyable and try to remember what it was like wh... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi and welcome to this course. When learning a new skill or technique, do you ever feel completely overwhelmed, and look at over people including cost instructors, and think how did they know all of this? Well then this is the course for you. Throughout this course, I'll be sharing my tips and techniques, which would not only work for me, but which I have also picked up from taking thousands of students do. Throughout this course, I'll be sharing my tips which I've learned from web development. Although many of the skills which I'm going to share are pretty general and can be applied to almost anything. We will begin by identifying what type of learner you are, so you won't be wasting anytime on techniques which don't work for you. Go through lots of tips, techniques and general way's the best approach learning and how to tackle the problems you will face along the way. Meaning you don't give up too early. Also not forgetting how to look after yourself and finding out when you are most productive, along with the importance of measuring your progress. By the end of the course, you will be able to apply all of the techniques that you've learned more effectively, learn a new skill or subjects. Thank you for taking an interest and let's get started by first identifying your learning style. 2. Identify your learning style: Alongside traditional learning techniques, the internet has brought upon us many more different opportunities to learn new skills, such as online courses, just like this one, books both in physical format and also e-books, reading blog posts on pretty much any type of subject out there. We also have the traditional in-person teaching too, which is generally in a classroom, in person boot camps which are shorter, more intensive learning courses and these are designed to teach you a skill set in a number of weeks. There are also audio-books for people short on time, which you can listen to in the car or while traveling. Some people also learn best by reading through the documentation of a website and you can even get one on one coaching sessions, much more personal and tailored experience. With all of these different approaches to learning, a huge part to figure out is to identify which one works best for you. For example, if you spend a long time reading through books and things just don't seem to be working for you, then there is a good chance that you were not that type of learner. As a web developer, I'm constantly having to learn new skills to apply to my job. But I have found the best way to learn from me, is to learn the very basics of a subject and then jump into building a real project. Inevitably, at some point early on, I am going to hit a problem and then I know that I can search on Google, go for the documentation or search for a blog post on that particular problem and all of this hands-on type of learning by building a project works really well for me. It also gives me great encouragement to see the progress of the project really early on. A lot of people will tell you it's best to retain knowledge by doing things in a certain way. While these may work pretty good, unless you identify your learning style and what works best for you, it may not be getting the best results out of your learning time. So I would really encourage you to take the time to discover which learning style works best for you. You may find that it's a combination between more than one thing. So just take on an online course alongside reading a book. However, this is a really important step in your learning journey. 3. Commit: The next step is to fully commit yourself. Now this may seem pretty obvious, but there is no point in spending all this time figuring out which learning style works best for you if you don't apply it to something constructive. If you will learn it from home, such as reading or taking an online course, it can be easy to take things lightly and give in to all of the distractions we have around us. If you think about it, going to university or college to learn a subject is a huge commitment, often taking up our full week and have all that time to learn at home. We need to make up for that by focusing on committing and using our time wisely. If you have children, it may be that you need to establish a good time when your partner can look after them, or even an hour or so after they go to bed. You can make the best of your time slots too, if you only have one hour, make sure you don't try to learn something too big. This may leave you frustrated if you don't have the time to probably finish it or to properly understand. So learning in smaller bite-size chunks is also a great approach, especially if you're short on time. Whether you will learn in bite-sized chunks, or have a lot more time to spare, it's really important to fully commit, especially without distractions, to really get the most out of your subjects. 4. Breaking things down: As we briefly touched upon in the last video, one of the good skills to have is the ability to break things down into smaller chunks. One of the things when learning a new skill or new subjects, which people find overwhelming, is the general size of the task ahead of them. For example, when starting out, we generally learn of professionals, all seek the finish versions of what we want to create or build. Meaning we are stuck thinking, I could never do that. As a course creator, I often get messages of students saying how I make it look easy, [inaudible] to grasp things as quickly. One of the things I always say is that it takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make it look easy. Students are also often been walked through a class project, which has already been planned and created. Behind the scenes, we often spend many hours trying to figure out solutions before I get into this finished version. Only then after the completion is the project broken down into more manageable pieces to make up the final class. From my own personal point of view, when learning to code, one of the things I used to do when starting out, will be to look at other people's finished projects. Often looking at how big and complex they were, and feeling a little overwhelmed. But then in time you soon realize that this is just one big puzzle and we can break these down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Learning these smaller bite-size pieces is also a lot easier, and you'll soon get to the stage where all of these pieces fit together, to become something really big. Also, these smaller pieces can be learned in your spare time, and also digested much easier. Finishing at one of these small pieces, or learning something bite-sized can give us a small victory. It's all of these little wins which add up to keep us motivated when learning a subject. There's nothing more demotivating than having a huge task ahead of us that seem so intimidating, that we don't feel like even starting, or don't know where to start in the first place. Keep taking these little wins, which is so encouraging. If you think back to school when learning a subject, you didn't learn everything all at once. Instead, they were broken down into smaller topics over the years. This goes back to the way which I like to learn, which is to jump integrating something. I will maybe get stuck on a project setup, which is one or small piece. Then need to refer to the documentation or a certain video lesson to learn how to do the next piece. Even though smaller pieces can be easier to manage, we also need to be careful with breaking things down without much of a plan. We do need to be organized with what we learn and also in what order, so they can naturally build on each other, and we don't get too lost. Making a list of all the steps we need to learn, to accomplish learning the subject, will also keep us motivated as we tick off each one of these along the way. 5. We are all students: One of the huge things which many students often overlook when first starting out. Is the fact that we are always a student. The tech industry and many others are moving so fast that we are constantly hunt, learn new skills to keep up. A subject which is hot at moments may not be popular forever. Even if your industry is pretty stable, you will always find new things both on your own and also from others around you. Understanding what your learning style is, will really benefit you over and over again during your career. You may also find that you are particular take on a subject or your particular style, will evolve with you too. You may want to also branch out, from your core subjects and then some more related topics which could really benefit your career. Understanding from the beginning that both novices and also experienced professionals are usually both learning and evolving too. Will make you realize that are both professionals are novices, are not quite as world apart, as you first thought when started out. One of the things about the tech industry is that once a new framework or language becomes available, everybody is on the same level. We all have to basically start at the beginning. Some do learn faster because they have a lot more experience of the fundamentals to begin with and these can also often a translate over. This leads us on to learn in the core concepts. If your industry is stable, then that's great. You can't continue to grow and evolve and do what you do best. However, if your industry is fast paced and always moving, learning the core fundamentals of a subject will really help you when learning anything else. For example in the web development world, there's currently a lot of different JavaScript frameworks becoming available and it's impossible to learn all of these to a really high standard. However, once you have a good grasp on fundamentals. You will find that these can be carried over each time you learn a new subject. 6. Try to have fun!: We all live in a pretty serious world and a lot of emphasis is put on education and also your career. However, this doesn't mean we can't have some fun as we progress along the way. Most types of learning not only involves theory but also a lot of practical work too. Whether that is drawn, a painting, a building a app, curving woods, or pretty much anything else. Often when learning a new subject, we're free to choose which projects or practical work we want to create so why not have a little fun along the way too. One of the things I like to do when learning a new technology is to apply it to a fun project. Or something related to one of my hobbies or interests. Doing things this way will also mean you were learning whilst having fun, making it feel a lot less like work. You can even team up with somebody and do things in pairs or groups too. That way you can also learn from each other and keep each other motivated too. The first website project I ever created was back at school and this was based on a hobby or interest which was a racing car series back at the time. Now having an interest like this not only enabled me to finish the project but also carry this on as a career too. 7. Productive hours, breaks and well being: Let's face it, when learning anything new it is something extra which we have to fit into our busy day. Sometimes we're in from work, we'll plan a meal, maybe spend some time with friends and family and then only squeezing our additional learning for the last half an hour of our day. While this may seem the only time we have left in the day to commit, it's often not something which we can sustain. Our body will soon begin to tire and our mind will begin to lose focus, this is a point where we must also make sure we look after ourselves too. We all know that taking breaks, drinking plenty of water, and having exercise is good for us but many of us don't do often enough to really benefit us in the way it should. Exercising and drinking plenty of water will really help our body and mind become more focused and efficient, meaning we may even be able to spend less time studying overall, since we're more productive. One thing I always find on a regular basis is when I get stuck on a problem for long enough and then now it's time to take a break. Many times in the past I've spent hours or even days trying to fix a problem not knowing where to begin, then taking a break or coming back to it the next day makes everything seem so much more clear and wonder why it took so long the day before. This is a good sign our body and mind needs a break and also time to reflect on things. Also, another hugely important thing to discover is our productive hours of the day, as mentioned before it's often the case so we only have the last hour or so in the day to be able to study and this is fine if you have no overtime available and you also have the energy to. Many people often find that they have more productive times of the day. Personally for me, I often find that the morning is much more productive than later on in the evening, therefore I set any complex work which I need to achieve to be done first thing in the morning. No one needs productive periods helps them organize what work to do throughout the day, although I do know there are a lot of people can't have this choice but it's certainly something to think about, particularly on days of work, or certain days when you have more flexibility. 8. How to help yourself and others: There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help when you need to. One thing you should always try to do is at least give the problem ago yourself. When learning any new skill, it's very normal to get stuck at some point. I love helping people when they get stuck. I regularly get questions from students who have not taken the time to at least give the problem ago first. Often the problems I see could be easily resolved if they read back through that code for typing errors. Also been simple, such as a Google Search. Although I don't mind helping that people progress through the courses. After the course is finished and they move on to possibly client work, maybe new job. Developing these problem solving skills first will really benefit in the long run. Of course, we all do get to a point with a problem when we simply cannot resolve it by ourselves, then this is the time to ask somebody for help. Whether that is a teacher, the course creator. Asking in forums on the web, asking a friend or even Googling the problem. Somebody somewhere has usually encountered the same problem and also has the solution, so please don't be afraid to ask when you need to. Remember, it will really benefit you in the long term if you at least try to tackle a problem yourself before asking a question. Another really underestimated way of learning is to also help other too, even if you don't immediately know the answer yourself. While online looking for answers yourself or speaking to others, have a goal at helping others too. As I mentioned before, tackling these kind of problems will only improve your understanding of the subject. Or if you are in a classroom environment. This is perfect for team in liquid over people and helping each other too. You could join groups relating to the subject on social media or even take a look for meetups in your local area. Also need to subject of chat rooms, forums in groups. Take in people's advice and opinions, but don't get to hung up on them. I see so many occasions when people argue or disagree on the best way to do something. If two people are arguing about the best way to approach a problem, the chances are that there are multiple ways to solve this. Choose one which works best for you. Keep on practicing and keep learning, and take the little wins along the way. 9. Measuring your progress: When learning and developing in a subject, we often make a lot of progress without even realizing. When taking in lots and lots of information, we can sometimes lose track of where we first started. It's important to take a step back now and again to reflect and see exactly how far we've come. One of the reasons is to be able to measure our progress in the subject. Once we see how far we have come it usually gives us some encouragement because we often came a lot further than it feels. Looking back, it's often amazing to think that we can now do certain things which weren't possible even a few months ago. This should give you lots of encouragement to now think where you could possibly be in the next few months or even in a year's time. Even if it turns out that the progress is not as much as you expected, you will still see the areas which you have gained and maybe the areas which you still need to work on or even in a more extreme case, you may realize that things are not working and you may need to change your learning style or approach. While this is not ideal a regular progress check will give you the chance to change the way you do things before too much time passes. But if possible do try to use this information as encouragement and motivation for next time when you check in. Also use this opportunity to also set some future targets and see exactly where you want to be next time you check in. 10. Final thoughts: You've now reached the end of this course and hopefully you've learned some new tips, which you can now put into action. Remember though that learning any new subject can be difficult, so don't be too hard on yourself if things don't seem to be sinking in. Hopefully, you can apply some of the techniques, which you've learned during this course.