Tag: self learning

Modern Ekalavya Learning Technique 2 – Selecting a Learning Path

Modern Ekalavya Learning Technique 2 – Selecting a Learning Path

With an attention span of a fish, we can hastily abandon the course we have selected. It’s not a surprise that just one course would not suffice for learning that skill. We would not require a 4-year bachelor’s degree otherwise.

Many of the MOOC platforms have already started curating individual courses into learning paths. These learning paths help you master the skill in a much more comprehensive manner. I have tried out Lynda’s and Coursera’s learning, and they seem to be good enough to pick any skill. We could even apply those skills immediately after we have completed the learning path. Even Marketing guru in his article talks about the importance of MOOCs not just only for adults but for children too.

Suppose you want to learn Machine Learning. Without a doubt, Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning course is good to start. However, when you register on Coursera, you will notice that it will ask you about your learning goals and suggest you a learning path accordingly. In the learning path I have chosen, there are three courses I need to complete. You can select Python or R Machine Learning paths depending on the skill you want to specialise.

Ekalvya was clear he wanted to become the best archer in the world, and he would not have done it without setting up strict learning path. He stuck to his path no matter what for years together.

In today’s world, the learning paths should not only contain courses with skill you want to learn. You also need to keep yourself updated with where all you can apply this skill you have acquired. For example, if you are want to become a data scientist, you also need to improve your visualisation skills or presentation skills.

Once you have completed a course, you need to apply them. Platforms such as Kaggle or KD nuggets help us with that. May real life problems are put up as competition on these platforms. Also, Kaggle now has Kernels and forking which can help you get started quickly.

What are you waiting for, choose your learning path on Coursera and create your account on Kaggle and start participating?



Modern Ekalavyas Learning Technique 1 – Start with Why

Modern Ekalavyas Learning Technique 1 – Start with Why

Coursera has more than 8 million registrations, edX has more than 3 million, and Udacity recently crossed the 2 million mark. While these numbers seem staggering, the course completion rate tells an entirely different story. Across all MOOC platforms, the course completion rate stands at a measly 7%. Much research has been done to identify the reason for this abysmal completion figure, and methods to control the dropout rate. Some research indicates the lack of motivation or a healthy “why?” being the primary reason for the low completion rates. The lack of negative repercussions of abandoning a course midway also contributes towards the dropout.

Think about college. If you quit college midway, you have to enrol again to finish your course. However, with MOOCs, you do not have any penalties for abandoning a course. Enrolling again is easy, and many courses are not even time bound. Even if these courses are time-bound, they are generally spaced out enough for someone to finish them without experiencing a time constraint.

Companies have tried experimenting with various fee structures, but they do not seem to have any impact on the completion rates. This pattern appears to extend to my professional field too. For example, I interact with many professionals who want to switch to analytics, but the average tenure in the field is small. What could they do better? As in the example above, people need to start with their “why?” – Why do they want to switch to analytics? If a better salary is the sole motivation, they might want to reconsider their decision. Anyone who intends to shift to analytics needs to have a love for playing with data, so he or she can use that data to help solve business problems. Simply taking a course does not transform someone into a good fit for a new domain.

Ekalavya had an unshakeable urge to gain mastery over archery, which is why he did not give up even when Dronacharya rejected him, and instead, found his unique way of training himself. Much like Ekalavya, if we are resolute in our determination to complete a MOOC, we will reap benefits quickly, and who knows, we might even master it without having to lose a thumb!

If you want further motivation on starting with “WHY?”, Simon Sinek’s TED talkperfectly explains it. You can also visit his website for further reading. Also, if you like to read his book, you can purchase “Start with Why” on Amazon.

Modern forms of Ekalavya’s learning technique

Modern forms of Ekalavya’s learning technique

Ekalavya from ancient history proves that self-learning is the best form of learning style.

Dronacharya (also Guru Droņa) was a master of advanced military arts and was the preceptor of Kauravas and Pandavas in the epic of Mahabharata. He also is known to be a teacher to Ekalavya but by indirect methods.

Ekalavya approached Guru Droņa to learn the art of war from him, and the Guru rejected his request. Deeply hurt by the rejection, Ekalavya did not give his resolution of learning the art of war.  This situation gave birth to one of the oldest forms of self-learning.

Ekalavya took the mud under the Guru’s feet to the jungle and made a full statue of Guru Droņa. It was a symbolic gesture to follow his knowledge and footsteps. With Guru Droņa statue placed under a tree and with a high amount of self-motivation, Ekalavya practised every day for many years. He chose archery as his focused art of war and gained exceptional prowess. He was even greater than Guru Droņa best pupil, Arjuna.

During that time, there was a ritual of Guru Dakshina. It was a form of paying respect to the Guru for his services. I could not even imagine why Guru Droņa could ask such a Dakshina from a self-taught learner like Ekalavya. Guru Droņa asked Ekalavya to cut his right thumb as Guru Dakshina. Eklavya with a smile cut his right thumb and handed it over.

What Ekalavya did was great. In today’s world, we do have many good sources to learn. Not as difficult as learning from a statue. And definitely, does not involve cutting our thumb as Guru Dakshina.

What are the modern forms of self-learning? 

With access to every information at our fingertips due to “Internet”, we now have access to YouTube, MOOCs and mobile apps that can help us learn anything we want.

We just need to have the self-motivation to learn and even stronger reason of why we want to learn.

Of course, we cannot deny that a mentor/guide/guru would improve our learning. But, let’s face it, racing against yourself becomes of more importance than learning either from Guru or being self-taught. And there is a good chance we might not find the right Guru at the time we require him. And then there is a way that involves the exchange of massive wealth to gain knowledge.

The question you must ask yourself is whether you learn something to satisfy your Ego or you want to learn it because you decided to improve yourself. Once you have this piece figured, you need to find a way to avoid distractions.

How to avoid distractions?

With many resources we have, we also double the distractions. It’s not like the forest Ekalavya practised. The environment was conducive for his learning. Yes, the environment is the answer. We need to create our environment, a system to stick to it to gain maximum from self-learning. Also, it’s a known fact that you must have a defined objective of what is the intended outcome you want from learning something.

Once your system is in place, it’s easier for you stick to it. You gain momentum when you begin to results you could not imagine. You may face down times, but it’s important to get back up and start learning again. You might not be able to make enough progress for 100 days in a row, but you need to keep your senses open, as the world has its way of getting the answer you need when you need it.