Hacking Education

Oh, this is good.

Robert Cooney (@EMEducation) of Better in Emergency Medicine recently featured this TEDx talk by Scott Young in a post called ‘Hack Your Education‘.

Scott studied business for pragmatic reasons, but was always interested in Computer Science. Through the use of cognitive science principles and effective productivity techniques, in combination with free online courses, Scott gave this talk while well on the way to completing the equivalent of a four year computer science degree from MIT in just one year. That’s right, just one year.

Some lessons for us all:

  • traditional ‘go to the lecture’ teaching is inefficient — there’s the commuting times, being stuffed in a crowded noisy lecture hall at inconvenient times, and the limited opportunity to interact with teachers. Lectures suck up time, can’t be revisited and the real learning happens afterwards when the student has to ‘nut out’ the things they didn’t understand for themselves.
  • Scott did his assignments question by question, checking the model answer after every question. Much like the LITFL case-based Q&A approach, this active ‘test yourself then get instant feedback’ is critical to reinforcing learning.
  • Scott watched and listened to lectures at one-and-a-half speed. I must admit I tend to do this for podcasts too, unless there is real fast talking. Scott claims this approach alone allowed him to cover 4 months of lectures in just 2 days!
  • If you want to be productive, analyse where you REALLY spend your time — a time log will dispel the myths we all have about what we do with our time.
  • Learning is lifelong — by hacking education we can make it easier for ourselves during school and after school.

Go on, get hacking!


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