There’s a common misconception floating around in organisations that if people weren’t great students at school, they won’t be able to continue learning well into adulthood or pick up the skill again once they start work.
We’re happy to tell you that this just isn’t true! Whether you were a top student at school or not, everyone can become a highly effective lifelong learner – it’s all about developing the right learning habits.
Here are 13 habits of highly effective learners that keep them learning new things, expanding their knowledge and developing their skills throughout their lives.
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1. They accept that they will never stop learning
Successful learners know, accept and enjoy the fact that learning never truly ends. There’s always something more to learn, some new experiences to try and skills to improve. When learners accept that their learning journeys are never completely over, they are more motivated to continue learning new things each and every day.
2. They don’t cram
Rather than cramming all their learning into one night or researching their assignment over a fraught couple of days, lifelong learners have the habit of stretching their learning out over a few weeks or months. Little and often is the key – it keeps them from getting bored and they see knowledge acquisition as more of a lifestyle than a finite task.
3. They approach learning reflectively
In other words, they understand that they have individual strengths and weaknesses, and they react to them when they affect their learning. Imagine a learner who knows they struggle with mathematics. They’ll be happy to go over the mathematics part of their eLearning course again in finer detail because they know they need to go the extra mile to master it – rather than ignore it and fail future tests!
4. They put in the effort
It stands to reason: the more effort learners put in, the more they’ll get out of their online learning journey. You wouldn’t expect to pick up 1kg weights and win a bodybuilding competition – you’d go all-out and train with 80, 150 or 200kg weights.
5. They visualise the goal
Sure, lifelong learners are successful because they recognise that learning never really ends. But here’s the trick: they visualise goals along the way. No one learning goal is ever ‘The End’, but each eLearning module might be a goal, or they think of completing a development stream of online learning as a great goal to aim for. It helps to break their lifelong learning into parts – and parts are often more manageable than the whole.
6. They seek out learning
Successful learners don’t wait to be told what to do or handed their syllabus on a platter. They go out and actively work to learn new things. If they spot a gap in their knowledge, they set out to fill it. They hate not knowing things!
7. They participate and collaborate
Like #6, effective learners involve themselves in what’s going on in their learning environment, whether it’s in a classroom or on their Learning Management System. We’ve talked about the importance of collaboration before and it’s definitely a habit of successful learners that we should all try to replicate.
8. They mentor others
Lifelong learners understand the importance of collaboration and sharing knowledge, so they’re happy to mentor and advise other learners. Not only does it make their colleagues happy, but it reinforces the learning content.
9. They see problems as challenges
Most people realise that they’ll encounter problems and difficulties throughout their learning journeys – the difference is that effective learners see these as challenges to overcome, rather than difficulties to stop them in their tracks. To successful learners, every challenge is an exciting opportunity to grow.
10. They use all of the learning tools available
Books, videos, podcasts, eLearning modules, Learning Management Systems, group study sessions… Effective learners know what works to get them learning and having fun so they make sure every learning journey includes these things. They organise everything they need to successfully accomplish their goals – they know where to go to get all the information and how best to use it.
11. They’re okay with failure
That’s not to say they accept failure – they accept failure happens but they’ll keep going and keep trying until they’re successful. Failure is just another learning tool they keep in their armoury, after all.
12. They leverage technology
If you’re going to be learning throughout your life, you may as well make it easy for yourself, right? Exactly! Effective learners use all the tools at their disposal – including technology. Whether they’re learning formally with an eLearning module or doing their own independent research, online learning is an excellent way of making the most of technology.
13. They enjoy learning
Rather than seeing learning as boring, dull or a drag, successful lifelong learners enjoy learning new things and developing their knowledge. Of course, they can’t expect to love their learning if it’s poorly designed, badly delivered and terribly tedious