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Learning By Doing

DZone's Guide to

Learning By Doing

The best way to get experience is the best way to learn about new technologies: Make Shia LeBouf and Nike proud and just do it.

· Agile Zone ·
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I’m often asked ‘how do I learn [insert something new here]?’, or ‘what approach do you use for learning something new?’. You can learn many ways, we all have different styles of learning so you should experiment to find out what works for you

In software development, learning by doing should never be ignored as a useful technique. It’s one thing to learn something at a high level by listening to a podcast, reading something online or in a book, but the next step if you really want to learn the ins and outs is to do it yourself.

Here’s an example of why this approach is valuable. You overhear a guy talking about how a machine is turned on: ‘to turn on the machine you press this button’. Some time later someone else asks you how to turn on the machines, and remembering the conversation earlier, ‘you press this button here’ – the other guy presses it, and nothing happens. Huh, what went wrong?

If you’d tried to turn on the machine yourself earlier you would have found out, probably by trial and error, that there’s a key and it needs to be turned to the ‘on’ position before you press the button. There’s no way you would have learned this just by the earlier conversation, but if you’d tried to turn on the machine yourself, if the key was in the ‘off’ position then the button wouldn’t have worked and so you would have started to investigate further, get the manual, or go and find the other guy and ask some questions.

This is rather contrived example to make a point, and how much detail you need or want to know about any given topic of course varies. However, in software development, I don’t think anyone would argue that you don’t learn to program by reading a book; you learn by doing, you learn by writing code. Go write some code, you might learn something.

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Topics:
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