How do you learn best?

Photo courtesy of Gates Foundation (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Gates Foundation (Creative Commons)

I love to train and learn new things, whether it’s a better way to do something, a new yoga pose, or a new program or application on my electronic device.

When you are learning something new, do you want someone to quickly review new things with you and then let you get to it? Or do you need more hands-on experience, trying it out and testing the process while someone looks over your shoulder?

When you are faced with learning something new, do you let your instructor know how you need the information?

I’m the hands-on kind of personality. You can tell me all day long how to do something but until I’ve seen it and felt it and done it myself – I won’t really catch on. On the computer, for instance, when I’m learning a new app or program, I have to physically test it out, pull down the menus, see what happens when I click this – and figure out how to get out of that. I take notes, and unless I get really stuck, I’m ready to venture out on my own with it pretty quickly. I have a much better chance of understanding and learning it when I’ve actually gone through the process myself instead of seeing someone else do it.

Some people want to have their hand held through the process. They want to see you do it for them, step by step, and then they are terrified to try it themselves. When they do, they hesitate and wait on you to say yes, next do this, and then that. It takes multiple times of being walked through something and even then, they are hesitant to actually try.

Almost all of us end up being both trainer and trainee all the time. Whether it’s a change to your favorite program, or a new activity or game, we’re faced with new processes.

The trick to gaining new knowledge is in communicating what kind of learner you are when it’s your turn to be trainee, and to recognize and ask the style of learning of anyone you are training. Otherwise, it’s just an exercise in frustration.

Once you have clear communication, then you can tailor the training to what you or that person needs and forge ahead with learning. And isn’t that an exciting part of life? Learning new things?

So how do you learn?