Personal Learning Plans


Learn Anything: Hacking Your Education


Lesson Info

Personal Learning Plans

On the first step of course, to ask what it is that you want towler, right? And we've already talked about that if you want to, you can write that down, you don't necessarily have to fill these out right here in person on the second step is to ask, why do you wantto? I'm going to talk a little bit, but more about this in a few minutes with respect to the neuroscience of learning, but as I was saying, we knew that the context of why you learn helps us learn faster and more efficiently. Basically, the way that the brain works is that we have all these neurons in her head and the neurons work by firing and wiring together. So when you think of something or you're doing action, you're actually creating physical pathways in your brain, physical pathways and you're actually being created as you do things as you write things down, the actual process of writing down, why you want to do or why you want to learn something will actually help you understand it clear because there was a new physica...

l pathway in your room that says why you want to do that so it's creating that context that will help you stay motivated when you're outside of school, and this is what one of the reasons why people who are who are in school and for me why I was why when I was in school but I couldn't say much because nobody ever asked me why or if I even wanted to learn something right now that everyone's like you know do you want to learn trigonometry like why don't we ask the students that and if the answer is no maybe we shouldn't make the morning um it's ah I think we're going to talk more about this on the panel later but the question of you know should we make people learn things that are like considered public knowledge like you know right now we can you know we make high schoolers learn learn you know, four years of history and four years of science and four years of math well if they're not actually going to use that and they're not interested in it you know it doesn't really make sense to have them learn it you know or should we be letting them use that brain states in that time to do something there actually interested in that they could be more productive it's a it's a debate worth having anything so basically personal learning plans are like a life syllabus to create your own syllabus when you're outside of school and when I was doing this basically what I did was I would go to an old used textbook warehouse and I would buy like fifteen used textbooks for dollar each and bring them home and photocopy all the tables of contents all the all the indexes into tables of contents toe look at how the structure was laid out I had searched like you know, u s history course online and download like five or ten scylla by from colleges around the world and then sort of start start overlapping I'd look at what was similar, what was different, what was included in everything which I assumed was fairly important I should probably look at if I was going to win on that subject and then more interestingly look at what wasn't included what was left out of some things and start asking you know why? Why was why was this specific piece of knowledge left out of this course but included in that one guy that was also really interesting to me and then try and put together for myself of course plan that was well rounded and balanced and included lots of kinds of different information and knowledge that I found in different places from and the chances of putting that together, you know, started with what it what it is that I'm learning and why I want to learn it and eventually got to the point where it really looked like a some of us where it said ok on week one, I'm going to focus on this here's some of the reading and I'm going to do here's a list of the web sites and I'm going to go look at you know here's a list of the people that are in my network that are knowledgeable don't like but I can talk to about this that I can reach out to you and I can invite him to help me evaluate myself after this week on became a blueprint for how to go about, you know, learning outside of school and a very intelligent and effective way so the basic ingredients of a versa learning plan are what you want to learn why you want to learn it, what you're going to make once you learn what the actual outcome is beyond these beyond these direct learning outcomes of you know I'm going to be able to you know, explain the contacts for the civil war or whatever it is if it's us history what is it that I'm aiming towards? We know that we know that learning is more effective if you're actually able to create something with what you do like what alex was talking about yesterday you know? Am I going to curate an exhibit at the end of the project? I am I going to you know, you know, deliver a speech to someone I'm going to give a presentation about what I did am I going to make a mock up um I going to like, make a three d model? Will it make a video game about it? What is it that I'm striving towards? The end the nitty gritty of how you're going to learn it how you're going to dive into the subject um the resource is that you're going to find the videos that you're going to watch the people that you're going to talk to all those nitty gritty things that are that are included in, um in the worksheet that we have um who is going toe help you learn it where you're going to find mentors you know and that if you if you don't know where to start, I'd suggest going down to your local university and knocking on some professors doors the secret to universities that often office hours air open toe anyone right there's no locks on university buildings and for the most part, people who are people who got in the teaching profession because they want to teach are generally happy to share their knowledge that's what they want to do and so if you come, they're interested in your toe learn and say, hey, will you help me do this very specific thing? Will you help me evaluated paper that I'm going to write for myself? The answer is probably going to be yes, they'll probably take half an hour to sit down with you and read and talk through what you're working on and then the last thing is when you're going to love it so you can set out there's very very measurable goals of did I learn this outcome by the end of week one by the end of week too buddy end of week three on dh learning that that setting out those very specific metrics is the only way that you're able to value yourself innkeepers off accountable because that's something we've never done in school before I mean, I think it's something it's incredibly valuable both for self learning as well as for the things that we're going to do, you know, for the for the rest of our lives because you know, when you get when you get when you get into a job no one's going to hand you a paper and say here, right, this very specific thing on this race was a big topic will be like, hey, can you just research so unlike minds in algeria and then walk away and you're gonna have to figure out the scope of the project, how they want that information delivered how to keep yourself on track as you're doing that research. So yeah, I think I'm gonna skip the actual process of actually going through and creating a total personal learning plan and just leave people to do that with the worksheet because I want to get to some of the neuroscience content, but first I want to ask about what are their other questions we couldn't created about creating personal learning plans either here or online just like I guess when you're first starting like if you're trying online history or something and you don't really know where to start and I feel like your syllabus would always be changing and adding that happen does that happen to you? You know, always like adjusting and moving things that you want to learn first I mean, when you when you start yeah, but that's why it's helpful tio have examples, right? I mean there's very little knowledge for which there is no precedent. I'd say that most knowledge out there someone has already learned before someone has already documented how they've done it. Well so that's in the university course and you can go find that syllabus and look at what someone's actually done or if you know someone who's learned that you can ask them what their first steps where books were written for that purpose I kind of feel like kind of the opposite, you know, how do you filter you best way of filtering that information that you're going to use for? I think I think what lisa said yesterday about relevance is really important. Another very, very tactical thing that you can do is so in them in scientific journals it's uh so the j score case score uh one of the other it's some non non val before I am it's either j r k and it's basically a a measure of how many times your paper has been sighted on dso you get this number as an academic and how many times your work has been sighted right? So you know einstein's with relativity is like two hundred or something like really high and anything you know if you look at if you look in academic and you can go on google scholar and look up their their score and if their scores you know over like fifty or sixty you can see that like they're probably decently reputable because other people have said that their work which is a pretty good metric and that's something that you can dio um if you're looking at something that's not that's not scientifically published it might be you can usually like look through life very course catalogs of seeing what other books site that book on if that's the case it seems like it probably was a good village and released it was hopefully right right um of course you can't guarantee that but right it's a it's a metric do we have to confront a lie? Yeah about personal learning plans people are really eating this up we wanna definitely learned mohr question jack says is how often should you be starting new topics so our subject every week must be the uk every fortnight every month so say you're learning about chemistry? It just is it just opened in it. Are you going to do this for a week or from other single? Depends it depends how much time you're dedicating to it, right? You know, if you're going to spend an entire month doing nothing but chemistry and not working, then that's probably plenty of time on you could, you know, then it might make more sense to break down topics by day rather than by weak, but I think I think a week is a pretty standard metric because people are usually doing other things with their lives. Um, I would I would start there, but of course, if you're doing if you're doing more or less, I wanna just based on the amount of time that you're putting into it for that person, that the guy with the girl that has a lot of options in front of me there's so much they want to learn, then learn about business term of that we'll learn about that. How do you go from there? All the stimuli down too? I'm going to stop start here. I think you need to think about the topic that is, that is most relevant for you and will provide the most. Help in learning whatever else it is that you're going to learn is learning is an intuitive process, you're going to build on what you already know, right? So if you're going to, you know, if you were going to learn, you know, like the choice between, like, chemistry and physics and statistics and, like, abstract level math, like you probably shouldn't start with, like, abstract string theory, you know, maybe you should go back and start with statistics, because that might be helpful in understanding physics and chemistry and doing calculations. Now, the question here in your mission is earlier on your talk deal is how do you go about getting access from in university syllabus or silla? By this? This is from most professors just post them on their websites, just google, like, you know, biology, one o one syllabus, and you'll find links to dozens of them in google. I mean, I challenge you to do that right now, and you'll find them. Yeah, in fact, doc's wrote, so for example, if you want to learn about ethics and world politics, google ethics and world politics pdf and one of the entries should be to a cambridge love a city which is excellent, so there you go another thing you can do is no course catalogs are always free and open toe look at so you can look at the you can go find the actual course titles so if there's a particular of course and you want a particular syllabus from for a university you know go look at the actual exact name of course copy and paste that into google into men just like upend syllabus so it's like, you know, ethics in the modern world and the impact of like, gender on you know, whatever I don't know what it's going to be but you could you could find that very specific so this if you wanted to, um universities air pretty bad providing these of privacy information I know I've even seen and done this in the past that some universities you can you can find a list of a list of the students enroll in the course from the course catalog site on then you can usually use the university of search function to find their e mails so you could even email come bunch of current students in the course of me like hey, you know, can I have a copy of the syllabus for the course and like there's, I've done that before and gotten now we're hacking, so by that I mean it's not hacking in the sense that it's doing anything illegal just now but it's really like for most would have thought of that yeah, for the most part like you don't even need to do that is most president just have a copy on their web sites going you know students are dumb and like lose their coffees and need to go in print more all the time so I think that you had a couple of these prepared perhaps in the next couple of slides but maggie asked, is there a website or online community that you could recommend for a study group if it's relevant? I'm studying marketing or more specifically copyrighting so maybe we could take that as an example for a personal yeah, there are a couple of tools or that I was going to talk about one is called peer to peer university, which is a on example of a site where people get together to support each other in creating personal learning plans around different subjects you can post your president learning plan the ones in his p two p u dot org's p two p u that cool which is one example of that another is I've started to see people using asano which is ah task manager system at least I mentioned yesterday I started seeing people use asana for personal learning plans it's free for under thirty users you can invite other people who are part of your system to help do that as well um and is a great way to keep yourself on track so what is the what is the what is the first thing that you do when you want to go learn something google roll okay yeah and just see where it leads may pretty much anything else you guys to think about what I want to learn I guess yeah, I you know, identifying what isthe initially just finding out where the most effective resource is would be yeah, I do the same kind of normally when I think of when I want to learn something there's always like two or three other things I'm like thinking about the same time so kind of channeling like which one is the one I want to learn about most? Yeah, well, I'm glad that no one said goto a lecture because we know that school is not optimal for the way that your brain works and you might think that if you spent twelve years in school and gotten straight is that you know really effectively how to learn but in fact the habits that you've picked up in school are really standing in your way sitting in a lecture being passive is not how the brain works is not how the brain works. As I was saying earlier, learning happens at least in the sense of recall happens in the brain with neurons fire and wired together and that happens when you do something active the first rule of learning is that learning requires active participation listen to lectures is the is the first just the first bad habit eve picked up learning requires active participation and getting those neurons to fire and wired requires you to do something when you're sitting in a lecture the only thing that you're doing is writing down something right on dh taking notes is is not enough of a trigger for your brain to actually do do something you know you talked yesterday jordan about the requiring hands on participation and that's why it's because when you do something with your hands it's actually creating mohr neural pathways in your brain to help recall that um the second the second rule uh morning is that uh oh um we have several warning is that learning requires personal context you have to figure out how it applies to yourself the first thing that you want to do when you're learning something is to think about how it applies to you the way the way memories workers by contacts again the more connections that you can make is that makes it easier to recall um as you know, doing something with your hands is just one way to make connections but asking how something applies to you is another way teo do that are there other ways that you guys can think of making connections? Uh well I just I just found like relying on relying on past experiences and using that as a way tio just like bringing all of that back into like what's going on whether it's it's going to be exactly related but just anything that could like potentially maybe I remember that one time this happened and it can trigger more questions and feels well even you know the visual experience you know, we've kind of talked about me with jordan and the tactile you having to have your hands on it, you know, seeing something happened, you know, a lot of people there, you know, they may not be real good at sitting election listening to the auditory part, but you have seen it happen seeing a video of it seen a person demonstrated so one thing one thing we've one thing we've learned about learning in the last twenty years or so is that different that the whole of the idea that people learn best in different ways is actually a myth? There's actually if you're going to take someone who has some identifies as official are or is an auditory lerner and then I teach them in different ways the learning outcomes they're going to be the same. What is true is that people who learn who preferred alert in certain ways are going to have more fun doing it in certain ways and they're going to find it more enjoyable but the the learning is not actually going to be greater jordan you're going toe say something yeah is like if I'm in a lecture at the university um my mind is like kind of, you know, going all over the place and that's where like I'm not like taking in that information versus when I have the hands on it just makes me focus on that and think about that and then like you're saying and just it's way more beneficial and swimmer fought another way tio make connections is to draw inferences on dh synthesize information is what the technical term is for this between different things, so they've done studies where they have people on taking notes for example, it is something that, like we've all been trained to do we know that that actually doesn't help learn taking notes just about the topic I'm just writing down, you know, napoleon invaded so and so in such and such a date doesn't actually help you recall it, but if you're drawing inferences across topics that is what's going to help you recall information because it's going to create another neural pathway in your brain so it's you know napoleon invaded such and such and such a such a time at the same time that this happening that this happened in the other part of the world that is going to help you recall something not simply leaguers hitting effect um the third big rules learning is that learning requires making steaks and this this uh, this goes to an environmental context as well as to his subjects the civic context, so the more difficult it is the study, the better you're going to recall things in the end and then include stupid, artificial things like studying in a noisy environment, right? So if you go out and study in a noisy starbucks, and then your test is in a quiet room, you're going to do better on the test simply because you gave yourself more distractions when you were studying and that's something that you could do for yourself, you could create artificial distractions if you wanted to make it harder to study to make the information recall easier when the environment is easier. Um, obviously you don't want to make mistakes on the test, but making if you make mistakes while you're studying, it means that you're more likely to recall information, and this is why studies that they've done about how to study find that it's more effective to test yourself with open ended questions, then with like, like writing down information or matching flash cards, right? So instead of instead of making flash cards like match dates to events, I have a friend ask you, you know, when did this happen? And if you make a mistake on something, it means you're more likely to recall it correctly the next time, because that mistake has created another neural pathway in your brain is just one more piece that will help you recall that information as it fires and wires together. No question about that, you know, if that's what you're going to get next, but, um, it's a question from lord nugget, how do you make a disconnections or unlearn something? Because I understand that you can do that as well, from a neuroscience perspective. Um, the basic answer is that you have to make mork connections that are correct, then I mean, you can't really you can't really do a connection it's there, but you could make more connections that are correct, uh, that will hopefully overpower the connection that was made that was false, right on doing more of these things, getting synthesis, providing personal context, making mistakes are all going to help give you more context and make more connections that are correct and lead you to the right answer this whatever this is for sort of a number of these rules that learning requires taking breaks, one of the one of the most fundamental findings in psychology, and something we've known for almost one hundred years and it's true all across the world, is that the amount of time that if you take thirty minutes studying or you take fifty minutes to study take a five minute break and then today for fifteen minutes that taking a break in the middle will allow you to recall twice as much information simply by taking a five minute break then for studying for thirty minutes straight on we've known this for a long time it's true across all disciplines the break can be anything that does not require active engagement right it can be going to take a walk it can be sitting with your eyes closed for five minutes can be anything that's not doing what you were doing originally and I just allows your brain to process the information and sift through it the other thing that's that's really relevant about this is that the way recall works is that your brain recalls the inspiration for equal period of time uh after you review it right so if you learn something on monday you studying on wednesday when you're tested it on it on friday you're going to forget it by the next friday uh because you haven't reviewed it in that period of time um and the basic rule of thumb is that the information that the more the interval at which you go and return to study information we'll extend the period of time that you recall the information by that law on this is true for period of periods of up to about a year right? So if you study french uh, you know, very intensely for one day and then a year later do the same thing a year after that, you're still going to be able to recall the information much more effectively because you went back and studied athas intervals now, of course, going to recall it much better if you studied it very regular fifteen minute intervals every single day. But I generally you will. You will recall the information for unequal period to which the gap was between when you first learned it and first studied, um and that's that's, another very simple thing that schools could really use to change how they work, right. You know, if we had classes that were in for fifty minutes ago ts and then maybe came back later in the day after some time for a break, we would have more effective learning. So the last thing is that learning requires a growth mindset, and I mentioned this briefly on friday. I think getting feedback on how you learn is incredibly important, they found carol dweck is a researcher in psychology at stanford, took a group of four hundred fifth graders in new york and split them into two groups. They told half the group they were taking a nonverbal I q test, uh, and have to group the same and they after the test uh as they were handing back the grading papers they told half the rope you must have worked really hard at this they told half the group I'm you must be really good at this and just those you know, five words made an incredible difference in the students both motivation and outcomes so then they gave the students a choice of an easier or harder test most of the students were told that they were that they were that they had worked really hard had chose the harder test and most of the students who told that they were smart chose the easier test and this is because the students who were told that they worked really hard we're in a growth mindset they were under the impression that if they worked harder they could do better where the students you I have been told that they were smart had a static mindset they thought that they weren't going to get any better and they could prove their intelligence if they just did really well and this goes back to the whole idea of greats right? Getting in a says nothing about how hard you worked it says everything about how smart you supposedly are and this is why they're learning metrics of asking how the progress is on your learning is so important as opposed to just the learning outcomes the is ultimately how hard you work is a much better metric for your six that's on the line then what you're doing and so then so then the third trial is part of this study after they gave him the test given the feedback and lead them to choose ah harder easier test they gave the students another test of the same difficulty as the original test and amazingly the students were told that they were hardworking saw their scores increase about thirty percent of the students were told that they were that that that they were smart enough he really good at this so their scores decrease about twenty percent so just those five words of feedback had huge tangible outcome on the ability of the students to perform and take the test. So when you when you're talking with your peers or your parents or your accountability bodies or your groups asked them not to compliment you on your pure talent after the compliment you on the work that you did on the effort that you put into it because hopefully that can lead to greater learning outcomes that we have a couple questions for you coming in from on line first one from from our difference t with more eighty one dale is there in an optimal time to study, for example, first thing in the morning after exercise ah, I am I do not know I would suggest checking out the monetary science of morning book to answer that, um another idea I don't know another afternoon is testing for yourself like work do so you find out when you are the most creative wing in the most productive could be the morning could be afternoon tested do three different thing I think I think that thie researchers that senator and something is more about taking a break afterwards, I mean, obviously you want to do it when you're awake and when you're well rested, I know that they have done research about the college students who who stay out very late the night before a test, for example, on def, you haven't had time to process the information, it won't get into your head as well. I think it's around and you have to get around five or six hours of sleep before it starts really degrading the information on the ability that you're able to reproduce it with, um if you get if you get less than seven or eight, you're still able to perform at the same level just won't feel very good doing it. And what about, um from persephone? Is there an often optimum time after which to take that break? Fifteen minutes is about the optimum time that you wanna even if you can chuck learning into out fifteen minute segments and then take that break that's ideal, the other thing about brakes is that should revisit the material a disappointed which you want to recall it in the future, right? Or a point, a point at which that is equal to the point that you want to recall it in the future. We're just kind of hard to explain. But

Class Description

For most of us, getting a good education that prepares us for a satisfying, successful life and career means going to school and attending college. We pay our dues by sitting for hours in a classroom, doing the prescribed homework, and often paying tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of getting a degree from an institution of higher learning.

But that’s not the case for Dale Stephens, who decided at a young age that school and college weren’t for him. Instead, he embraced “unschooling,” which is self-directed learning based on curiosity, confidence and grit. Instead of blindly following what society and institutions say we must learn and how we should learn it, Stephens offers an alternative approach that is richer, more dynamic and geared to our unique interests.

Stephens is the author of “Hacking Your Education,” founder of, a highly sought-after speaker, and a successful investor and advisor. He and his special guest speakers will help you devise your own personal learning path, figure out your dreams and how to pursue them, learn to embrace your outsider status, and discover how to find meaning and purpose while also making a living.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Create a personal learning plan that defines what you want to learn, why you want to learn it, and how you will learn it.
  • Keep yourself motivated when you don’t have the structures of school.
  • Identify what your goals and dreams are and what you need to learn to realize them.
  • Connect with mentors and advisors who can help you on your educational journey.
  • Build a community with other “hackademics” to help you learn anything you want.
  • Create a portfolio to communicate your talents rather than a traditional resume.
  • Find a well-paying, satisfying job using subversive job search techniques.


a Creativelive Student

I'm not able to afford this class now but I saw the live view on CL and want to thank you! So many things I have experienced recently it was nice to learn that I am not about filters, time managing as innovators, taking smaller steps instead of reaching for long goals...chunking. Great course!