7 Learning Patterns For Designers & Developers

Worried you are not learning as much? here are 7 learning patterns that might help you improve in your self-development pursuit.

Whenever there is the need to acquire a new skill, we all have different ways of approaching the acquisition of such skill. Some seek books, YouTube videos, or even other professionals to impact upon them such skill.

There are various reasons we would want to learn anything, perhaps to get promoted, to solve a personal problem, a market problem, build a product or even save the cost required in hiring a developer. Whichever reason, patterns often arise as we chase after that which we want to learn. I would highlight below 6 learning patterns I have personally observed from myself and people close by, you might find a better approach to your learning.

  1. Problem Based Learning

For me, I think most people would rather not learning until they see the need to. Except you are learning for leisure purposes. Problem-based learning as the name implies arises because of the need to tackle a problem. Sometimes one might not even know what skill is required to solve a certain problem let alone knowing how to go about learning the skill. Usually, this is where Google comes in, but in situations where the problem is not on Google (Totally Impossible), you might need to seek the attention of a subject matter expert. Someone you has encountered such problems before and therefore can guide you through it. For me, Google, Youtube, Github, and Stack Overflow are usually enough for me. This kind of learning can be very swift or take long or even have multiple branches of problems nested into it, and therefore you have to dig through every source you can find just to eliminate the challenge. The most common example is programming bugs, scaling an overloaded server, or adding a feature.

2. Copycat Approach

This is an interesting one, and it takes the mind to actually engage in it, not because there is something evil about it but because developers and creatives, in general, are usually haunted by the scratch mentality and creative guilt. You see developers who always say they like creating from scratch, but really what I hear is “I like wasting time, reinventing the wheel and actually not creating something useful or beautiful”. The thing is that everything was created on top of another and so there truly cant be anything from scratch. The only justification I believe for doing something from scratch is to get an understanding of a concept and it should only be done once or twice in any given area and not something you do for every project. It is more efficient to build a framework or library to aid you in developing patterns rather than starting from HTML, CSS, and JS scratch for all your projects. Creative guilty is something that results when an artist or developer believes that in order to be original, they must never draw inspiration from other people's code or design. I won't even waste time stating the disadvantages of this concept because all creation draws inspiration from several other things which actually makes it original in itself. Back to Copycat Approach. It is self-explanatory so I will just give examples: A UI designer can trace out other people's UI until there can confidently create theirs, a developer can draw code from open source GitHub projects until they can release their own projects. This is one approach I often take and I find myself creating unique products easily and fast. Also drawing inspiration from other people's work is a profound pattern of learning especially at those moments of epiphany when you can finally say “Ohh!, I get it now”.

3. Plug & Play

Basically, plug-and-play learning is usually found with people who require fast results, they do not have the time to go through all the intense subjects a particular skill. They just need to know where they can input their problems and how they can get solutions in the form of output easily. For example, developers who use frameworks and libraries are not always lazy people, they might just need to meet up with a deadline, so they don’t have the luxury of taking tutorial courses on Udemy on how to make a slider when they can just use Swiper slider. A UI designer might use an already existing UI framework to generate a new and unique UI style guide. I am also very guilty of this because it helps a lot in solving problems quickly and I sometimes go back to understand the solution I had previously employed.

4. Subject Matter Expert

This is not common to me, because when I started to learning web development in school, there really no subject matter experts with time to answer all my questions, so I resolved to use library books and youtube videos, but recently in business I have begun to see the need to consult with people who are already excelling in the field of web development and they are usually excited to help if you will respect their time of course. They provide shortcuts and alert you of mistakes they made when they were in your shoes and I believe it is one of the best learning patterns to adopt. The only problem I have with it is that some people use it as an excuse not to take responsibility for their learning, saying things like “ How can I learn when I have nobody to put me truly”, meanwhile YouTube is there to help. In cases where a subject matter expert is very needed, one must find any means to get through to them.

5. Project-Based Learning

It involves learning a skill or concept by taking on or while taken on a project which requires that particular skill. For example, one who wants to learn to be a web design can decide to build a charity donation website for a local charity organization. It also happens when you find yourself in a project that requires you to learn something.

6. Passive Learning

Here the learning activity is usually done to supplement other learning patterns. The student is usually consuming the lessons in an attentive manner rather than actually practicing. For example, listing to JavaScript-related podcasts, watching a YouTube video while eating, or daily reading medium articles that are usually short and in form of tips and tricks. This pattern of learning usually happens when you become what you become very committed to what you are learning and decide to maximize every possible time so as to gather more knowledge on a subject matter. One of the great benefits for me is that it can help tie the knots together of every other pattern of learning as you begin to see things you didn't see while busy attempting to do the hands-on practice.

7. Learning by Teaching

Have you ever come to the realization of something you didn't know you knew when you are teaching someone and they believe you have known it all your life but actually you just thought of it while teaching. This I believe is one of the core reasons people go into teaching, they are actually after total mastery of their field, this is because writing and speaking all forms of teaching provide a means for one to recollect and reprocess his or her thoughts. Also teaching others can provide a source of motivation and a sense of purpose and can also enforce a form of discipline of the teacher who does not want to disappoint the students, so they work hard to get even better at their craft. For me, I believe this is the best kind of learning.

In conclusion, recognizing these learning patterns can help anyone adjust. None is the worst, none is the best, just take what you believe would work better for you and go create awesome things after learning how to.

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