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Blog: 6 creative ways to make learning stick

‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn’
Benjamin Franklin

These words ring true when it comes to successful learning. Have you ever studied for hours on end and found that nothing really seems to be going in? Well, it might be because you aren’t approaching learning in the right way, or learning in a manner that will help your brain to absorb information, and retain it.

Don’t despair, there are actually plenty of ways to make learning more memorable. We’ve covered some of them below and included some handy tips to help make your learning stick and enable you to ace that exam.

  1. Become your own mentor

The Karate Kid had Mr Miyagi and Luke Skywalker had Obi Wan Kenobi but for the lone e-learner, the equivalent to perfecting kicks, punches and Lightsaber play can become a daunting task without the aid of a mind trick or two.

Create a character that motivates you, questions you and pushes you towards your desired end. Do you respond to the soothing tone of a soul singer or the rasping rollicking of a Drill Sergeant? Adopt a persona when memorising important chunks of information that are vital to the topic being studied and say them out loud. Morgan Freeman listing the finer points of the importance of character development in novel writing might resonate.

  1. Break it up and repeat

The mind needs a rest from information, so short sessions of learning with breaks as respite (as opposed to hours of cramming) tend to work best. If you try and study hard for a long time, you get tired and your mind starts to wander, meaning you’re less likely to remember anything.

A study conducted by professor Alejandro Lleras from the University of Illinois psychology found that “Constant stimulation is registered by our brains as unimportant, to the point that the brain erases it from our awareness”. Brief mental breaks will help you to stay more focused.

The study also found that allowing people to take two brief breaks from their main task allowed them to stay focused during the entire experiment.

Crucially, the effectiveness of this approach lies in what the learner does during those breaks away from the material. So, revisit pertinent material and corresponding notes made. Sit mini mock exams and test yourself regularly. The old adage practice makes perfect suitably applies here.

  1. Stories

Children learn so much simply from the stories they get read, but stories aren’t just for kids. Stories resonate with everyone, and as well as being enjoyable, they can help provide you with clever ways to remember information.

When you learn chunks of information without anything to connect them to, naturally they will be harder to remember. The link learning method involves making simple associations between items on a list, linking them with a vivid image containing the items.

If possible, make a up a story that helps you to remember what you need to learn. You will be amazed at just how easily you remember and recall information. Check out this article for some handy tips on how to learn via stories.

  1. Mobile apps and learning games

There’s an endless selection of mobile learning apps that can help you to study. They can help you to learn bits of information in a more engaging way. A lot of learning apps are specially designed so that you are more likely to remember what you’ve studied. So find an app that suits your learning style and get studying.

  1. Give the performance of your life

How does the actor remember his lines and why are some actors better than others? The key to a great performance surely lies in the depth of application during preparation for a role. Make emotional connections to the material and become actively involved in the learning. Ask yourself, why are you learning? Being interested in the subject might not be enough. Bring your learning to everyday aspects of your life by taking it with you when shopping, exercising and seeing friends.

  1. Discovering your strengths and weaknesses

Sportsmen and women often visualise a great performance and they have answers to the questions they posed to themselves? Where might I trip up? What can I see going well? What are my weaknesses and strengths? This is all about goals that you set yourself in the process of conquering a topic of study. Dedicate time to achieving specifically set goals and reward yourself. Today is the day I learn about…and if I do, that cupcake is mine.

Learning anything should never be a chore. Learning can and should be fun and the long and winding and often obstacle ridden path to making what we have learnt stick needn’t be a completely lonely one.

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