In this post, we’ll cover:
When you’re learning, it’s easy to just consume content and feel like you’ve checked the box. “I learned something today! Great, what’s next?”
But learning isn’t just about consuming. In order to integrate and retain information, you want to actively learn, and even more importantly, actively create.
Creation is important for three reasons when you learn something new:
When you talk about what you’re learning — whether through writing, video, or some other format — you remember it better. Forcing yourself to re-articulate ideas in your own words helps integrate your thinking.
More importantly, when you’re talking about the things you’re learning, your network sees it, and it becomes a part of your reputation.
Proof of learning is really important. When the world around you knows what you’re learning, you get credit for it in the way the world measures you. When people know you’ve learned about certain topics, they’re going to measure you based on your knowledge of those topics.
TK Coleman calls this practice “learning out loud” — the art of sharing what you’re learning, as you’re learning, and then creating around that acquired knowledge. You don’t need expertise to be “qualified” to talk about a topic — as soon as you’ve learned something, you’re qualified to pass it forward by sharing it with the rest of the world (and more importantly, your own network).
The best way to learn is to learn actively, share the things you’re learning, and document your process of knowledge acquisition, one step at a time.
There are a few different ways you can integrate active creation into your learning process. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through how to get started with each one!
Proof of learning is really important. When you’re learning something new, your ability to think, create, and work improves with the new knowledge you’ve gained. However, that doesn’t mean the world around you can see it yet! Creating proof of learning whether blog posts, videos, social media threads, or podcasts enables you to communicate your interests, your knowledge, and how you might want to create value for other people.
When you’re learning in public, you’re able to both learn and create at the same time. Publicly sharing what you’re learning holds you accountable for actively engaging with information, and for following through with your study. At the same time, talking about what you’re doing helps you stay aware of your growing knowledge, instead of passively consuming and forgetting.
And when the world knows about what you’re learning, people will take notice of the interests you have and the skills you build. You’ll be able to make network connections around your areas of interest, and perhaps even land opportunities in your field of choice. Learning in private expands your mind; learning in public expands not only your mind, but your field of opportunity.
Now that we have that out of the way, here are our top 4 favorite ways to actively create and learn in public!
Blogging is one of the best ways to document what you’re learning, and translate your consumption into creation. It’s also one of the best ways to retain information.
When you sit down to write about something, you’re forced to organize your thoughts in a clear and concise way. As the adage goes, clear writing means clear thinking. Written thoughts are the most organized and the most articulate — and because you’ve taken the time to sit down and write about the topic, and think about it deeply, you’re much more likely to remember it.
Blogging is also an easy way to build a portfolio around your learning. Think of each blog post you write as a portfolio piece, and your blog page as your portfolio showcase. If someone goes to your blog, they’ll see everything you’ve learned about and documented — and you can send people links to blog posts as proof of your knowledge on a topic.
If you can get your work published on a third party-site (especially a publication on the topic you’re learning about), you can build an even stronger reputation.
Each time you learn something new, you can write another post and add it to your portfolio — and build credibility in a variety of topics over time.
In the same spirit as a blog post, a video allows you to build a portfolio piece around a specific topic. In a video, like a blog post, you can outline and document everything you’ve learned on a specific subject.
There are a few key differences between a blog post and a video:
There are a number of great examples of people creating vlog channels that serve as portfolios. This one, Joseph Rodrigues’ channel, is a great example of using videos to summarize what you’re learning as you read.
Twitter can be one of the fastest ways of documenting what you’re learning. Because it’s a platform designed to capture people’s thinking in real time, it’s very conducive to sharing your initial insights after reading content on a topic.
There are two ways you can use Twitter:
Here’s an example of a quick insight + link:
And here’s an example of a longer-form breakdown:
Twitter is also great for networking purposes. Because it’s social media, it’s intended to facilitate connections — and some fields and industries (e.g. tech, crypto, education, startups) have strong communities on the platform. Sharing your learning on the platform — and engaging in conversations already happening in existing threads — is a great way to not only share your learning but also build network connections.
There are a number of accounts on the platform that are great examples of this, including David Perell and Alex and Books.
However, all these same principles also apply to other social media platforms. You can use the same steps on LinkedIn, Facebook, or any other platform that feels relevant.
One of the best ways to demonstrate your knowledge on a topic is to put it into practice — not just by talking about it, but by showing how your knowledge can be put to use in the real world.
Projects work best as portfolio pieces for harder skills and more tangible knowledge — things like technical tools and knowledge of systems.
For example: if you were learning about cryptocurrency, a great way to document your learning would most likely be a blog post or a Twitter thread — but if you were learning about programming, a great way to demonstrate your knowledge would be by building something.
Alternatively, if you’re learning about design, you might write a blog post about some new design principles you learned — or you might put the principles you learned into practice and create a set of designs. Even better, you could design a line of tshirts, set them up on a platform like Zazzle, and create an e-commerce store.
Here’s the thing about projects: demonstrating theory (your knowledge on a topic) is useful, but demonstrating tangible and measurable accomplishments (things you’ve built and results you’ve driven) is always more valuable. Somebody who’s running an awesome t-shirt store signals stronger skills than somebody who’s just written blog posts about design.
Whenever possible, take opportunities to put your learning into practice.
There are many different types of projects you can build: websites, e-commerce stores, tech tool integrations, apps, courses, e-books, etc.
Next time you consume content — a stand-alone article or podcast, or a deep dive into a topic — create a piece of content (or a project!) around what you’ve learned.
Document the new knowledge you’ve acquired, publish your finished overview, and share a link to the finished product on social media.
If you’d like us to see (because we’d definitely like to see!), tag us in your post at @EdvoOfficial.