It’s generally agreed that people learn things in different ways. Some people prefer to watch how something is done, or listen to an explanation, others prefer to read instructions or a book. I’d always put myself in the latter category. In the past, whenever I’ve needed to learn something new – be it studying for a degree, professional exams or taking up a new hobby, my first instinct was to reach for a book. When I was studying law I made copious notes, and my revision tactics were to write out those notes, time and again, condensing as I went. I had friends who surreptitiously recorded the lectures or read their notes onto tapes that they played back (this was in the old days of cassettes – remember them?). But, that never worked for me. I was strictly a ‘words person’.
Different learning styles
There are many theories about learning styles. In fact, do a Google search and you’ll come up with anywhere between three and nine different types. One of the most common seems to be VARK (visual, aural, read/write and kinetic). This divides learning styles into four broad categories: visual, aural, verbal, physical. There are lots of online tests you can take to find out what type of learner you are. Obviously, this can be very helpful as you can match your course, content or teaching method with your preferred style. It’s useful for teachers too, as they can use different tactics to motivate their students.
There’s an old English adage (proverb) that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. So, when I first decided to have a go at expanding my knowledge of WordPress beyond uploading blogs posts, clicking ‘publish’ and hoping for the best, my first inclination was to download an Idiot’s Guide to WordPress on my Kindle. And there it stayed for a couple of years. I’ve never managed to get past the first few pages. New tactics were needed!
As one of my new year resolutions, I resurrected my intention to master WordPress and began to look around for resources. I’d read (of course!) many good things about free or very low cost online courses, like Udemy and Coursera. With the new year comes new year sales, so what better than to take advantage of a substantial discount on Udemy and sign up for a course. I was sceptical, to say the least, about whether I would be able to actually learn anything by watching and listening to short video lessons.
I quickly became addicted to this new-to-me method of learning. Turns out it wasn’t even that difficult. With my two-screen set-up I could have the lecture playing on one screen whilst following the instructions and tinkering with my own hobby website (dare I sneak in a link here?). Within five days I had built a fully-functioning WordPress site and gained a new hobby. There’s still a long way to go, but I’ve got new courses planned to expand my knowledge even further.
Never stop trying
The message of my story is that first, you’re never too old to learn something new. And, second, even though you may think you could never learn something in a different way, try it. You might just surprise yourself. As Roy Bennett is credited with saying, “Never stop dreaming, never stop believing, never give up, never stop trying, and never stop learning.”