How to learn effectively – Cone of Learning


Effective learning is a key ability to our future. For the most part of the day we are connected to the internet, where approximately 60% of information is a nonsense unsupported with facts. Every day we open ourselves to many unneeded incentives and while doing so, we acquire enormous amounts of needless knowledge. The ability to gather, select and use information in an appropriate context will decide who can do better in the market of the future.

Cone of Learning was developed by Edgar Dale in 1969. It’s puzzling that it’s not being taught at schools. Dale’s research aimed to check how much information do we remember after two weeks from exposition. The lower in the cone you are, the more passive and ineffective your learning style is. The higher you climb, the better stimulation your brain receives, which results in more effective learning.

Be done with ineffective reading

After two weeks we remember 10% of what we read. It means that 90% of information is not present in your long-term memory. Now, you should realize that the primary learning material at schools are still books. We are currently entering the age of pictures. Paper publications are getting replaced by e-books and audiobooks. Soon, the new generations won’t read at all. It’s crucial to rework the learning system for it to become adjusted to the changing reality.

If you can, replace books with audiobooks. Doing so makes you remember 20% of its content, which means that your learning effectiveness has risen two times. When reading, do it aloud and record yourself with a dictaphone.

Use images

Providing your brain with image or sound stimulus, you improve its effectiveness. One image is worth 1000 words. Use infographics – combine text with picture.

Now that you know it’s worth to read, record and listen to what you have learned, go even further and draw it. You can use Tony Buzana’s map of thoughts. Use simple symbols, which make it easier to remember extensive amounts of contents. Image the heart symbol and think how many emotions you can associate with it. You can use the same model in learning.

50% of what we hear or see is still remembered after two weeks. At this stage we enter the multiple intelligences level, where many of our senses are stimulated at the same time and the memory trace gets much more complementary.

Learn in an active way

Although 50% is an impressive result, you can still go even further. To do so, you have to start learning actively. Being active allows you to achieve 70%. While discussing something with other people, you stimulate your brain in a much different way. You put through everything that you have learned so far. If you don’t use your knowledge in an appropriate context it remains a dry information.

A similar mechanism can be observed in case of different behaviors. Saying that someone is stubborn – without providing a context – makes it impossible to tell if his attitude is positive or negative. A similar context is required for you to learn actively. Learn in a group, share your thoughts on what you have just learned and remembered. Summarize your experiences. If you want to learn, be a teacher and pass on the knowledge.

Introduce movement

Putting something into action and then talking about it is the most effective way to remember. It allows you to reminisce 90% of the processed information. This stage requires to use your body in the learning process.

It might sound paradoxical that the most effective way of learning is to use your body, which is not even aware of the memorizing process. Think about it: which school subjects are constructed in a way that allows you to remember all the knowledge they provide, till the end of your life? You can’t remember every single physics equation, every single capital city in the world or every single chemistry equation. However, you do remember how to play basketball, how to run or how to tumble. It seems that physical education is based on the most effective way of learning. When you actively demonstrate your knowledge, show it with your body, an ability to stimulate your brain appears, which allows you to introduce that real knowledge into your life. Muscle and reactionary memories are the most effective kinds of memory.

Information provided above can be used not only to teach yourself but to teach others as well. The ability to learn effectively can help you understand how to prepare a presentation which can be easily remembered by the audience for a long time. You will be a more effective seller too, giving your client an opportunity to fully experience and remember your offer.

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