Adaptive Learning, A Big Problem with Online Courses, and Information Chef’s
I’ve been running through a variety of different Ruby on Rails courses and tutorials as I’ve journeyed from “Beginner” to “Intermediate Beginner” on my way towards “Advanced Beginner” and beyond.
One thing I’ve noticed: courses like Codecademy and Ruby for Zombies don’t emphasize repetition or adaptive learning at all.
There is no recommended homework, no recommended repetition, no rinse, lather, repeat. No prompt or enablement to customer-tailor the content to your own self.
It’s expected that (1) the first lesson hammers the concepts in perfectly or (2) you understand you must repeat these concepts on your own to properly learn them if you didn’t get it the first time.
The major problem is this: students often don’t know how to learn, and they don’t know this. They don’t know that they don’t know. Students don’t know that they need to learn to learn.
But that’s what learning to program is.
Learning to program is a lesson in learning, just as much as it is a lesson in learning to program.
So if you are learning to program for the first time, you are learning to program AND you are learning to learn; you are learning how to adapt courses to your own ability and process.
So here is the major point of this article: You must cultivate an adaptive learning process. This means you must adapt the material to yourself. You should tailor the material to slip over your head and settle on your shoulders like a well-fitting shirt.
For me and for you, that means understanding unique differences in your learning process.
I’ll give you an example: I am terrible at reading, and then doing.
I simply cannot learn by reading once, and then doing a homework assignment. It does not work for me AT ALL.
I’m a bit better as listening instead of reading, but really I’m much more of a doer. Put something in front of me with limited instructions, and I’ll just start tinkering.
Then, after tinkering and gaining context, I may read the content associated with the project and I‘ll look for other people that are doing similar things.
I like to start with the homework, and then process the lesson.
Unfortunately for you other tinkerers and doers, most courses are presented in the opposite order.
(1) Here is the lesson
(2) Here is the homework
Seems like a weird way to go about things.
Ok, wrapping this bad-boy up:
Each of us as students much understand that we each have our own information palate. We each have slightly different digestive mechanisms for information, and we should cook and spice our information to suite our preferences.
As a student, you are an information chef. And you should be prepared to cut, chop, cook and spice your information to suit your own body and mind.