If a learner is going to take a course, they want it to be engaging and, most importantly, to remember what they learned. This is where accelerated learning techniques come into play. They fuel and organize learning so that learners get the most out of the material they need to learn, and they are better able to recall, utilize, and critically evaluate what they are learning.
If you want to get the most out of things you learn from books, courses, or any other source of learning, this article is for you!
Let's start with an explanation of the accelerated learning cycle and then, the best part, the techniques for accelerated learning.
If you want to become a super learner, keep reading this post.
What is the Accelerated Learning Cycle?
Before you take any steps to learn any new material, it will be beneficial to you to understand the bigger picture. The accelerated learning cycle is an idea that comes from having an encouraging and challenging learning atmosphere. It utilizes learning through many senses to engage and intrigue learners from the beginning of the learning process. It also incorporates demonstration of mastery of material and consolidation of whatever a person has learned.
Long story short, you need to learn how to learn. We will help you with that.
Phase 1 – Preparation
As the learner, you may not expect to have to be the one who gets you ready for a lesson. That’s supposed to be the instructor’s job, right? Not necessarily. You’ve got a lot on your plate, especially if you’re an adult learner, anything from sick kids to a messy house to work responsibilities. During the preparation stage, you are the one responsible for bringing your thoughts to focus on the lesson.
Be intentional in taking time to physically close your eyes, breathe deeply, and then begin to focus on what learning will take place in the coming minutes. Set a timer for this activity, and permit yourself to think just about the task in front of you so that you are fully engaged in it. The more concentrated and focused you are on the lesson, the more quickly and efficiently you will learn. Divided attention means, in the end, that you spend more time and energy on the learning task than is necessary.
Phase 2 – Connection
During the connection phase, you begin to think carefully about the topic you’re going to learn from a broad perspective. You’re orienting yourself to the learning. You understand why this learning is important and how it will be useful. Additionally, the expected learning outcomes are clear to you, and you comprehend what you are expected to be able to do by the end of the lesson. You will come back to these expectations throughout the lesson, and especially at the end of it, to ensure that you have mastered the lesson material successfully.
Another key feature of this phase is that you connect the material being taught with what you already know. If, for example, you’re learning about endangered languages and why they are important in a chapter from a textbook, take time to think about any news stories you’ve heard about endangered languages or any facts you have learned in life about a language that few people speak. If you are from a group of people whose language is endangered, then the topic is especially relevant for you.
Also, ask yourself why the material is important. A lesson in a new software program that you need to know for work will help you to become more efficient and productive in your work and perhaps help you to get that promotion you’ve been after. Any sort of personal connection you can make to the material will help you retain it better because you’re personally vested in it in some way.
If the course or lesson seems completely irrelevant to you, or you can’t bring any of your knowledge or past experience to bear on it, you’ll have to make connections for yourself. You can do this by writing down specific questions you have based on the expected outcomes of the lesson, which are often stated at the beginning of a chapter, module, lesson, or course. If you’re learning how a product is made, you might write down a question about how or where raw materials are sourced, for instance. You can also read headlines, captions, and look at graphics to learn what a lesson is about if it has text, and form your questions from that.
Look for the answers to your questions as you move through the material, and write them down. This helps you to stay active and participating throughout the lesson because you’re constantly looking for the answers to your questions. You may not always find answers to your questions, but, in many cases, the answers to your questions will be found, especially if you base them on the learning outcomes. This activity helps you to retain the most important information and to be prepared for exams.
Another idea is to visualize yourself being successful in the class, contributing positively to interactions in the class, and understanding the material well. Positive thinking has such a profound impact on how well a task goes for us. It can help you double your productivity.
If we feel that the material is boring, that we’ll never understand the instructor, that we’re too old for the course, or that we already know everything the course will cover, for example, we’re missing a prime opportunity to prove ourselves wrong and to learn important new information.
Phase 3 – Activation
In the activation stage, you’re beginning to have a sense of what the learning material is all about. You’ll likely be presented with just one or two learning modalities to help you learn the lesson, and it may well be up to you to come up with other ways to learn the material. For example, if you’re taking an online course, and the material is presented in a text format, and you find that you don’t understand some part of it, you can go online to see if you can find a video that discusses the concept in more detail. You might also try talking to people who are knowledgeable about the topic and seeing if discussion can help you better comprehend the material.
Think about the material from a variety of viewpoints and situations. Begin to construct your own understanding of it through perhaps journaling your thoughts about what you read, double checking if you’ve found any answers to your questions, describing what you’ve learned so far and reflecting on its importance, and thinking about its potential ramifications and what could come next in the learning.
Feel free to get creative, too! Create a physical model of your learning, such as writing the steps of a process out on different sheets of paper, and then physically walking on each step as you say it aloud. Or maybe you write a short story in which the elements of your learning are incorporated into the text.
Phase 4 – Demonstration
The demonstration phase is where you have the chance to show what you’ve understood from the lesson material up to a certain point. You may do this in a variety of ways, such as solving a similar problem to those you’ve been working on so far, or passing an assessment. You might also write a short summary of what you’ve read, synthesize and reflect on the main points out loud in a video or audio recording, make a presentation, or otherwise share what you’ve learned.
Ensure that you have some kind of guidelines to help you evaluate your learning if the demonstration of your learning does not come from the instructor. For example, were you able to recall all of the main parts of a process that you are required to know? Writing down some kind of rubric will help you to ensure that you review the material you don’t understand well the most intensely and will help you know what to pay attention to as you move forward.
Phase 5 – Consolidation
When you reach the consolidation phase of your accelerated learning, you bring everything you’ve learned together, and you review and share it with others. Additionally, you reflect on it, and determine what the next steps are to apply the learning or to delve deeper. Also, take note of new questions, and decide how you will use the learning once the class is finished. You might organize a peer support group among your classmates online so you can all share how you’re using what you’ve learned into your daily work and lives. You might work with someone else in the class or as a whole class to accomplish any of this.
18 Amazing Accelerated Learning Techniques
Now that you understand the accelerated learning techniques structure, it’s time to jump into the specific ways you can learn in smarter ways than you have in the past. These 18 learning techniques can help you master the material you want to learn so that you can retain and apply it to your work and life when you finish a course or lesson.
It’s time to become a master of super learning!
1. Break Down Complex Ambitions into Smaller, Achievable Goals (Proper Goal Setting)
You may want to become a world-famous mathematician, or a top programmer but, if you don’t set learning goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound, you’ll flounder around and likely never get anywhere close to your ambition of developing a theorem to change the world.
The critical part of maximizing your ability to learn is to break down each of your larger, more difficult-to-achieve ambitions into smaller goals that you can actually attain. Each step should be something that you can actually do that moves you toward your goal of learning what you want to master.
2. Maximize the 80/20 Principle to Concentrate on What’s Most Important
The Pareto principle says you’ll get 80 percent of your results from about 20 percent of your effort. This is applicable to a variety of situations, such as most of your sales coming from a few customers or 80 percent of written English coming from about 20 percent of the language’s words. When it comes to accelerated learning techniques, focus just on what is most important, what is likely to give you the most bang for your buck, to be on the exam, to help you change the world. You’ll be able to manage your time most efficiently when you apply this principle to your learning plan.
3. Learn how to Remove or Manage Distractions
Research has shown that, even though people are good at multitasking, they are less efficient. The American Psychological Association website states that, “[p]sychologists who study what happens to cognition (mental processes) when people try to perform more than one task at a time have found that the mind and brain were not designed for heavy-duty multitasking.”
Don’t let yourself be distracted by the sheer number of learning steps that you have to take to achieve your ambitions. In the moment, block out distractions, and focus your capabilities on working on just one project at a time to help you be the most efficient in your learning. Turn off your phone; stay away from social media; don’t do anything that will take you away from what you have to accomplish to reach your goal.
4. Practice What You Learn to Retain Information
Take charge of your learning by creating practical situations in which you are required to use the material you learn to test your ability to use it. This also gives you the opportunity to improve your skills in practice. You can’t get better at learning a language without using it. Take a look at Instagram, for example. There are many people who have accounts where they do nothing but try to speak in videos in a language they’re learning. They have created opportunities for themselves to use what they are learning in a practical way, in these cases, often without a native speaker around to help them.
5. Use mind Maps to Improve Your Retention Abilities
Utilize mind maps to help you solve problems and to deconstruct complex systems into easy processes. Mind maps are a graphic organizational tool to help you gain a more organized and practical understanding of just about any subject. There are a variety of tutorials on how to effectively utilize mind maps, and several apps are also available to help you create mind maps to organize your thoughts about any topic. Use mind maps to delve deeper into a topic, record your questions, and improve your understanding and retention.
If you need help getting yourself going in any learning project, if you need motivation, create a mind map to lay out what you want to achieve. An additional boost is to create a personal vision statement to help you stay focused on what you goal you have. This lines out where you want to be and gives you the guidance you need to navigate each choice you make about your life. It is something you can use to light your path in life and to help you stay focused on your goals.
6. Don’t Work too Hard – Take a Break to Refresh Your Mind and Body
You might want to do about three hours of hard studying, but you’ll likely find that your productivity will decrease after a period of time. The limit for people varies, but it’s typically a good idea to give yourself a five or 10-minute break about every half hour or so. Get up, and move around. Get something to eat or drink. Moving helps your brain recharge and gets the blood pumping so that you can get back to work and focus well.
One idea is to use the Pomodoro Technique, developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. First, determine what task you need to accomplish. Then set a timer for 25 minutes, and work on the task. Finish when the time goes off, and write a checkmark on paper. When there are fewer than four checkmarks, take a three- to five-minute break. Then set the timer for 25 minutes again, and repeat the process. When you have four checkmarks, take a break of between 15 and 30 minutes, and then start over with your checkmark count when you go back to work.
7. Collaborate with Colleagues to Assess Your Knowledge
Now, it’s time to take what you’ve learned and put it to the test. You want to make sure that you’ve mastered the material that you’ve been studying, so work with your friends and colleagues to ensure that you’ve done just that. You can work with others who have completed the course or who have similar knowledge to test each other on the material.
Having others who learn with you and with whom you practice your newly-acquired skills can help you retain information. You might have a game in which you test each other on the information, or you can have a study group or online group where you test each other on the information you’re learning. Having a sense of positive competition and/or collaboration can assist you in learning more information.
8. Use What You’ve Learned Regularly
When you have learned a skill and then feel that you’ve forgotten it, you probably haven’t. It’s all up there in your brain, ready to be reactivated. You can speed up the re-learning process by using exercises to recall the basics and quickly move on to more advanced material. You may feel like you’ve been out of the game for a while, but you’ll catch back on quickly by going over the fundamentals. Then you’ll be ready to get back on track and use your previously-learned skills in work and life. You will also likely update your skills and learn new information to help you be even more astute in the area you’re studying.
9. Create Metrics for Measuring and Tracking Your Progress
Throughout the learning process, create a system for measuring what you’ve learned. For example, you could say that you want to write an essay using a rubric from your course as a baseline for your skills. Then write another essay in the next month to see how you’ve progressed. Have your abilities to use better vocabulary and to write complex sentences improved? Is the essay more coherent and cohesive? Grade the essay yourself after you’ve taken some time from writing it, or have someone else who is a good writer take a look at it for you, comparing it with the first essay.
10. Choose Challenging vs Simplifying Things
When you’re learning something new, you may want to learn the superficial aspects of the information, the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, and then avoid delving deeper. Don’t avoid challenging topics just for the sake of saying you’ve learned fundamentals fast. Instead, take the information that you have to learn, and make it manageable by taking creating smaller goals to accomplish.
11. Use Sensible Highlighting
If you’re going to highlight an entire page of text, then, well, don’t. You want to highlight when you read just to bring attention to names, dates, key terms, and definitions. Highlighting doesn’t help you understand what you read. Instead, it helps you to recall information when you go back and review. When you’re studying for an exam or to try to remember information to test yourself, you’ll quickly see what you need to memorize later.
If you want to color code, then go for it. Maybe one color is for dates, another for names, and another for key terms, for example. However, it might be something that you feel takes too much time. You might also make just a dot in the margins of your text. These are easier to find quickly than just bracketing or underlining. The dots also encourage you to remember the information because it is not readily given to you the way information is if it is just highlighted, bracketed, or underlined. You are prompted to remember the context of what you’ve read as you scan near the dot.
12. Practice Re-Reading
Re-reading may seem like a waste of time, but, in fact, it is essential for learning quickly. If you are to learn the material effectively, re-reading is vital. Pre-read the information by scanning the headlines, titles, captions, making sense of graphics, and then read the first and last sentences of paragraphs. Then go through and read the text carefully. When you highlight or use dots, read the information around what you’ve marked, and a sentence or two before and after, to help you recall what you’ve read.
13. Make Keyword Notes
Super learning doesn’t happen by absorption. Find out what the keywords are that you need to know. You can do this by paying attention to italicized or bolded words in your text, asking your professor or fellow students, or talking to your department administrative assistant for copies of past exams, if they are available. Go to the library, and explore texts related to what you’re learning by looking in the indexes and bibliographies. Then search online for those terms. See what videos or articles come up. Then explore information related to what you need to know.
With the keywords, you can then simplify complex ideas down to words that you will remember. You can make mind maps related to each keyword to prompt you to remember the complex information related to each one.
14. Try Self-Explanation
Find practice tests, chapter check-ups, or previous tests from your department or other students who have taken the class; take any assessments you can get your hands on in order to see where you’re at in your learning. You can also make your own assessments. Read through the information required, or listen to the lectures, and make your own questions based on what you think is important. You’ll be able to quickly see what you need to work on so that you can best focus your study time.
16. Try Multi-sensory Learning
Learning new information shouldn’t come from all one learning modality, meaning, you shouldn’t just read everything or watch a lecture. Make your learning experience one that includes speaking, reading, writing, and listening. If you can make it kinesthetic (physical, or hands-on), in which you learn, say, by making a model of what you’ve learned about, then do so. You can also take a walk and listen to a lecture, or explain what you’ve read about for the last hour to yourself to see if there are any weak spots in your learning. This helps you create more physical and mental connections than if you just use one learning method.
17. Learn from Coaches or Mentors
Locate people in the field you’re learning about, and see if they would be willing to mentor or coach you, whether it is on a formal or informal level. Coaches and mentors are invaluable because they can help you determine what you’re doing right in your learning, and what you’re doing wrong. They have a level of experience that can benefit you in many ways. They can see the work you’re doing with an eye for detail that you can’t, and they can give you advice from personal experience on how to improve. If you can’t find someone, study those who are top performers in your field. Figure out what they have done to help them excel and what they have done that has held them back from succeeding.
18. Find your Right Learning Environment
Sometimes, learning in a new location can be helpful to retain new information. Once you find the general type of environment that you prefer to learn in, say, a place that is quiet but with subtle background noise, frequent places that fulfill those criteria to empower your super learning sessions. For example, head to the park if the weather is nice, or go to different hole-in-the-wall cafes to study. If you want to walk between locations, even better, because you’re giving your body a much-needed physical break, and you are refreshed for when you sit down to study again.
Accelerated learning techniques can help you learn faster, more efficiently, and more in-depth. They don’t necessarily mean that you will learn the information at light speed, but you’re more likely to learn the information that you want to know well and in-depth when you adopt these techniques, and they’ll keep you from wasting valuable time with other, less-productive techniques. Experiment, and play around with these accelerated learning techniques to improve your ability to study, and you’ll be pleased with the results.