13 votes

What are the single best resources for learning something new?

When learning something new, often available resources are lacking in some departments - whether they're missing information, poorly written, or tedious and dry. But occasionally, some content just stands out as above and beyond the rest, serving to not only make the learning process enjoyable but also to kindle interest in further exploration. What is that for you?

This could encompass everything from computer programming to literary criticism, and could be in the form of a website, book, video tutorial, or the like.

9 comments

  1. [2]
    Akir
    Link
    Talk. To. People. Bring them in and involve them in what you are doing. There's a reason why society employs teachers. People are social creatures, and we learn from others. If you can find...

    Talk. To. People.

    Bring them in and involve them in what you are doing.

    There's a reason why society employs teachers. People are social creatures, and we learn from others. If you can find someone who is familiar with what it is you are trying to learn, weather you are paying for a class or have just found an enthusiast on the subject, you will have a much better grasp of the subject.

    Imagine for a moment that you are trying to learn carpentry. You can begin on your path to mastery by practice, sure, but if you have someone along the way to help you on your journey, they can see what you're doing from a different angle and can help you to find ways to deal with deficiencies that you may or may not have even noticed.

    The very least that you should do is to find a community of people who are interested in your topic and ask them what they recommend to help you learn. They have been where you are and they can show you the shortest path to bring you where they are now.

    6 votes
    1. Micycle_the_Bichael
      Link Parent
      I'm going to try to come back and write a better response than the short comment I am writing here. I keep trying to write out my thoughts on why this is such important and good advice and I can't...

      I'm going to try to come back and write a better response than the short comment I am writing here. I keep trying to write out my thoughts on why this is such important and good advice and I can't stop going on tangents about more and more ways talking to people helps if you want to learn something. If you are trying to learn something, try to find a community. From my personal experience, I wouldn't try to use reddit for this. But Akir's advice is such good advice.

      I say this as someone who has had to learn 8 different programming languages for work and has tried to learn a handful more just for fun, but I've also had the same problems with knitting, painting, musical instruments, re-learning higher level maths, card games, gardening, fermenting foods, cooking, and every other hobby I've tried to pick up in my life. It is so much easier to learn from people you can interact with than any video or book or website. Again, in my personal experience, this advice goes triple for people with ADHD like myself. A community will be able to help you learn in ways that match your learning style/needs in ways watching videos and reading books never will, and will bring you a lot more success than trying to force yourself to pay attention to a video, failing to pay attention because of how your brain works, and then getting frustrated and discouraged and quitting.

  2. [2]
    petrichor
    Link
    I'll kick this off with Interneting is Hard, which I think is the single best way to learn modern HTML and CSS. It's succinct yet comprehensive, covering everything from semantic HTML to Flexbox...

    I'll kick this off with Interneting is Hard, which I think is the single best way to learn modern HTML and CSS.

    It's succinct yet comprehensive, covering everything from semantic HTML to Flexbox (and importantly, Flexbox before other types of positioning). I can't say enough about it. Whether you've never touched an HTML file in your life, or learned web design in the early ages of the web and want to see how times have changed, I recommend giving it a whirl.

    4 votes
    1. Akir
      Link Parent
      Honestly, this just brought tears to my eyes. The world actually is becoming a better place!

      Flexbox before other types of positioning

      Honestly, this just brought tears to my eyes. The world actually is becoming a better place!

      1 vote
  3. Rocket_Man
    Link
    I think @akir hit the nail on the head. But to make their point a bit more abstract people need a map. The internet can tell you about pretty much anything but you need to know what you're looking...

    I think @akir hit the nail on the head. But to make their point a bit more abstract people need a map. The internet can tell you about pretty much anything but you need to know what you're looking for. Therefore some type of map or guidance on a topic is essential.

    In my opinion this actually expands beyond just learning and into problem solving in general. If you don't have a way to see all the possible bases of knowledge and tools in-front of you then it'll potentially be harder to accomplish your goals.

    To bring this back to Akir's point, experts are great at this. A teacher knows more about what knowledge is available and what tools are good for what.

    3 votes
  4. floweringmind
    Link
    Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex...

    Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge.

    https://aquadzn.github.io/learn-x-by-doing-y/

    2 votes
  5. gpl
    Link
    These lectures on General Relativity by Frederic Schuller are hands down the best lectures on the subject I have seen.

    These lectures on General Relativity by Frederic Schuller are hands down the best lectures on the subject I have seen.

    1 vote
  6. mrbig
    Link
    Professor Gary Hardegree free introduction to symbolic logic is by far the best introduction to logic I have ever encountered, and I even took the time to send him an email to thank him for the...

    Professor Gary Hardegree free introduction to symbolic logic is by far the best introduction to logic I have ever encountered, and I even took the time to send him an email to thank him for the influence he had on my life. It is targeted towards philosophy students but requires no background knowledge.

    This course is severely underappreciated and is in my view much superior to any paid alternative I have encountered.

    He just knows how to teach building from simple examples with a very accessible language. There are no jumps, he assumes nothing, things progress in a very natural fashion that is suitable for self learning.

    https://courses.umass.edu/phil110-gmh/MAIN/IHome-5.htm

    1 vote
  7. protium
    Link
    I think that best is very subjective when it comes to learning, it's very dependent the person and why they're learning something. When learning for personal enjoyment I've find that I retain the...

    I think that best is very subjective when it comes to learning, it's very dependent the person and why they're learning something.

    When learning for personal enjoyment I've find that I retain the most information when using a structured outline. So for topics I'm interested in like psychology I often look for syllabi from universities and try to follow whatever text gets assigned. It tells me a) this text is good enough for this professor, and b) what about this subject is most important. Also I find that taking and organizing notes makes broad concepts much more approachable and helps with rote memorization.

    For learning skills in life, i think that trial and error can an extremely efficient way to learn something if you're in a controlled environment. For software development, having several different lower level environments allows you to learn from all your mistakes without risking any real damage to a production environment. Obviously reading documentation helps avoid a lot of pitfalls, but I still think the skills gained from struggling with something can be valuable.

    @Rocket_Man makes a really good point on learning how to learn something. Often the hardest part of gaining a skill is finding what prerequisite knowledge you need. It reminds me of the five orders of ignorance I was taught in one of my software courses. Being aware of the fact you might not know how to learn something makes research a lot more tedious, but hopefully helps you gain a better understand of the topic as a whole.

    As for specific resources, if you're trying to learn C the book, The C Programming Language, is one of the more accessible ways to learn language in my opinion.