Ahura’s vision is to foster a world where ten times more people are educated and positioned with a more vital purpose to take on the most critical challenges faced on the planet. We pursue this vision every day through our commitment to understanding human reaction to digital content and applying it to unlock the next evolution of education online.

The “How I Learn” Campaign is just one of many efforts on our part to understand how people learn. The first portion of this campaign will focus on getting to know the Ahura team and the experiences and practices that have guided them along their lifelong learning paths. To kick things off, we get an inside look into how our very own Francesca Sta Maria “relearned how to learn” during her first year in college.

We know that different people learn in different ways, yet it seems that contemporary approaches to education do not account for these differences in learning styles or preferences. Francesca’s experience with education is representative of many people’s in that she was taught a one-size-fits all approach to learning very early on. She was raised in a household that placed great value on education, but she was taught that “you have to memorize everything and that’s all there is to learning”. This is the same mindset taught to many students growing up. It tends to work for people in the short term but it does not facilitate true long term learning. 

This method of brute force memorization tends to meet its limits when students begin learning higher level concepts in high school and college. We discover that the same basic memorization tactics that carried us through most of our schooling won’t work anymore, and that transition can be difficult especially when we have little to no information on how to go about doing things otherwise.  

Luckily for Francesca, her entire first year of college was dedicated to helping her and her classmates avoid the difficulties associated with this transition. She attended Minerva University in San Francisco, a new non traditional college built on the science of learning. Her entire first year focused on re-learning how to learn. Essentially, her classes and assignments were geared towards providing her with an understanding of how learning takes place in the brain and how to use this information to inform her approach to education going forward.

It took a full year of slowly implementing and experimenting with different strategies and practices to figure out the combination of tools that worked best for her. After that first year, Francesca developed what she now calls her “Learning Toolkit”, a set of best learning practices based on her first year findings that she calls on whenever studying a new subject. In her words, armed with this toolkit, she can now approach any learning opportunity and say, “If I follow this little regiment, I’m for sure going to be able to master this topic in X amount of time” with complete confidence. 

One of the first strategies in Francesca’s toolkit has to do with changing the format of the content (i.e. text, videos, podcasts, etc.) she studies based on the time of day she is studying. In the mornings, she likes to focus on reading, annotating, and taking notes. She likes to do these things while she has the most energy and focus early on in her day. In the afternoon when she is a bit more tired, Francesca prefers to view videos. She still has the energy to focus and engage with the content, but she finds that it’s much easier for her to do so with videos than with text at this time of day. Finally in the evening, Francesca prefers more hands-on practice with whatever she’s learning. Her energy is at its lowest at the end of the day so she needs to engage in study activities that keep her focused and allow her to code switch often to avoid getting too bored or tired. 

This is what works for Francesca. What works for you? Share with us down below or with your own response to this week’s topic. We’d love to hear from you!