In part I of this 2 part series, I presented you with tools for finding content, developing memory and learning more about how to learn.  This week I have focused on tips for learning collaboratively and also some ideas about unlearning. Because sometimes the hardest thing is to let go of what we think we know. To keep it simple, I’ve included the links to get you started. Try them and let me know how you go. I’d love to know what works for you and what other ideas you have. Pop them in the comments below this blog. 

Build or join a community of practice.

A Community of Practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. A CoP can evolve naturally because of the members’ common interest, or it can be created deliberately with the goal of gaining knowledge related to a specific field.  These could be accessed via facebook groups, linkedin groups, a related professional association or you could create your own.

Ask the crowd.

When NASA was looking to enhance predictions of solar flares and develop a smartwatch app for astronauts, it reached out to communities of practice online using Freelancer to request submissions for designing the app via a $1500 contest and grabcad to find out what 5 million mechanical engineers and designers might think. Other useful sites for crowd sourcing innovation and problem solving are innocentive – a network of smart minds and training services; topcoder to design and build software with crowdsourcing, and kaggle the place to do data science projects and explore projects created by others.

Go to a MeetUp.

Go to a meetup on your chosen topic of interest, or to one which presents a contrasting view to a topic you are interested in but know nothing about. Not only will you meet new people and build your network, you’ll learn while you do it. There are meetups which focus on all sorts of topics and remember, you don’t always have to focus on work related topics. When you learn something new, you strengthen your brain and that will help with work learning, too. My personal favourite is the IDeL Meetup where I always learn something new and people are generous with their knowledge and time.

If there are no meetups nearby, look on your local government website, Time Out and your local news hubs and libraries for talks, groups and tours in your local area. And if you don’t find what you want, why not start one yourself!

Try Working Out Loud.

This is an approach built on collaboration. Working Out Loud is a way of building a network or circle of people who can support you and help you reach your goals. It’s a two-way approach because you give back to the group through your own learning and experience.

Curate your content.

Set up a collection point in OneNote, Evernote or on Google Alerts and curate multiple sources into one place to allow you to better organise and curate your content from multiple courses and channels. You can also use an app like Feedly which is a news aggregator which pulls together news feeds on the topic you’re interested in.

Challenge your thinking.

It’s easy to fall into the same old thought patters so why not challenge yourself to think differently? Expand your thinking by listening to TedTalks or podcasts from experts.

Different ways to approach learning a specific topic.

You don’t have to attend a course to learn something new. The traditional methods of research and learning are still valuable. Reading, watching videos, researching online and in libraries are still important learning tools. To help you retain what you’re reading, you need to apply it quickly. Now, you might not be ready to do that in the workplace, so you could create a mind map, teach someone else, or test yourself by applying it to specific problems.

For example, when you need to teach the information to someone else, you work harder to chunk the information down into smooth flowing and manageable bites of learning. So, you’re thinking more deeply about what you’ve learnt. You aren’t just reading to remember; you are reading to share and apply. And if you can’t explain what you’ve learnt, you haven’t understood it well enough.

How to unlearn things.

Often, we need to unlearn our old processes or learning so we can replace it with new learning. It’s every bit as difficult as breaking a bad habit, because that’s essentially what you’re doing. There’s some good information in this Ted Talk from Greg Tehven which will shed some light on the process of unlearning.

One of the biggest elements in unlearning is disabling the triggers which make you act or think in a certain way. For example, at tea break you scroll through social media only to surface an hour later! There are a couple of tools which will help give you some control over your time and your triggers. Blocksite is a Chrome extension and also available for Firefox. It automatically blocks websites of your choice and disable any hyperlinks to them. So, if you can’t automatically get to the site, your brain will need to stop and think about it. This is a great way to give you back control over your mind and actions. If apps are your problem, try AppDetox for Android or one of the many alternatives for iPhone.

Apply these ideas to quickly and easily master your learning. I’ve found them very useful.

Now, I’d love to hear how you go with these tools so please let me know. And if you know of a tool / tip which I haven’t included, please share it with us in the comments below.

For tailored ideas on sourcing particular content or insights, email me. I’d be pleased to help you.