How to Growth Hack the Learning Process

We live in ‘The Era of the Growth Hacker.’ Whether you call it growth hacking, hustling, finessing or whatever else word you can think of, it’s all the same thing: maximizing the number of opportunities to provide the most gain. Partly spawning from the gig economy, so many of us have found ourselves enveloped in, we’re now at a time where literally everyone has the ability to pick up a side hustle, including college kids.

The fall of 2016 saw 20.5 million students expected to go to college, an increase of almost 30% since the year 2000. And while we usually consider millennials as the generation most in touch with technology, they’ve since graduated, leaving Generation Z at the throne.

Generation Z has had the internet available at their fingertips before they could even walk. Desktops, laptops, and tablets were standard tools in their classroom as much as pencils and paper were in the past. For them, technology has always been a part of the learning process, and that expectation has carried on into the college age.

The majority of students are now implementing digital tools into their studying routines, with that number expected to increase as GenZ keeps matriculating. Additionally, the tools of yesteryear such as note cards, quizzes, and homework are entirely online, having everything available anytime.

Yes, with all the numerous innovations in EdTech, students can find the right tools to make studying more streamlined and efficient. And as the generation that’s had products like Uber and Venmo be as commonplace as virtual tutors and online editors, they’re able to capitalize off their learning styles to provide a tremendous amount of personal success.

Find Your Fit

The first step in growth hacking the learning process is to figure out what type of learner you even are. The most common identifier of this is VARK, which stands for Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic. As the golden standard used by teachers all over the world, VARK is a method that has helped identify the best learning styles for students over the past few decades. It keys in on the particular strengths individuals use to pay attention, retain, and recite information, which has yielded great success.

Visual

Visual learners tend to utilize charts, graphs, maps, and diagrams to understand things. Their strong suite in terms of thinking stems from their visual cortex, where the goal is to be able to literally visualize information. For them, physical cues and great organization are what provides the best resources.

Auditory

Auditory learners understand best by listening. They’re usually the best at reciting lectures, as well as oral exams. The core of this learning style is to listen and repeat terms, as well as pick up on changes in tones or manner of speech. Noted as being great storytellers, they’ll talk out loud to themselves when trying to complete a task.

Read/Write

While read/write is sometimes nixed from the list, these learners use reading and writing as their primary tool to learn. This includes rewriting passages from textbooks, writing glossaries, or reading notes over and over again. The core of this style comes down to the written word as the best method of retaining information.

Kinesthetic

As a kid, everyone thought they were a kinesthetic learner, only because it involved interaction. Usually described as “hands-on learning,” this style has the person using physical demonstrations or activities to learn. While they usually don’t fit the mold for traditional online learning, they excel in areas such as lab experiments, demonstrations, or creating real-life materials (I.E.: Engineering students soldering together switchboards.)

A Note About Your Learning Style

While you may be reading the above and thinking “Well, I’m definitely this one, but sometimes I use that one,” these identifiers aren’t set in stone. For some subjects or applications you may excel in one arena but use a completely different method in another. However, they’re mostly relative in taking things in.

For example, in college, I was great at writing down lecture notes and would constantly rewrite textbook entries/definitions, but I also talk out loud when I write essays. Additionally, I’ve found visual information most helpful in the math and science. It’s most likely that you’re a mixed bag as well, which can bode well in trying to maximize the strengths you’ve adapted to.

Taking Advantage of The Tools You Have

Since we’ve developed a pretty good grasp on where your strengths are, we’re now going to get into how to utilize them to collaborate with others. As technology has enabled us to share information with ease, you’re now able to find others with similar learning styles that can help you fully comprehend certain subjects.

Let’s say for example that you’re a great visual learner. You have an excellent knack for being able to put together beautiful charts and graphs, as well as highlight key points and draw out pictures. While you’ve gotten this process down pat for your Marketing or Engineering classes, you’ve been struggling with how to study Spanish.

Fortunately for you, there’s probably someone else out there who’s a great visual learner for languages. They’re able to illustrate flashcards with physical items you can associate with words and have a talent for making vivid scenes into stories.

By seeking out someone who’s learning style is similar to yours but has found their niche in another subject, you’re able to collaborate and trade notes so you both can be successful. As you both have the same skill set, the process of working with one another becomes much easier to comprehend the material at hand, which saves you both time and energy in trying to capture your methodology.

As we stated above, sometimes your strengths lie in different areas of learning, but that can also be great in trading. While you may not exactly be the Michael Jordan of studying (that is, your exceptionally great at everything, but not the very best at just one thing), you’d be surprised as to what you can offer.

For example, if your best skill in a lecture is writing detailed notes or mumbling key points to yourself, recording this and listening back could help you as well as someone in your class that’s an auditory learner. They could additionally use your notes as a reference, making your skills a valued asset from the first day of class.

Once You’ve Found Your Niche, It’s Time To Find Your Market

Buying, selling, and trading notes have been a commonplace on college campuses since before computers were even developed, but now technology has helped accelerate the practice tenfold.

And with current college kids so adapted to making money online, we’ve provided a few examples on how you too can capitalize off of this.

Trading/Selling Notes

As one of the oldest practices available, trading and selling notes is one of the most popular hustles in the game. We all know at least a few people who either missed a class here and there or just only showed up on exam day, making these a material that’s always in demand. Even if that’s not the case, some people just don’t like taking notes in class (or aren’t very good at it), so they could potentially utilize someone else’s to reinforce the material at a later date.

Finally, one of the most popular types of notes traded online is for the subjects of science, engineering, and mathematics. These require an incredibly keen sense of attention to detail, which for “big thinkers” or creative folks, they might miss the mark. While they can come up with abstract or imaginative ideas, they don’t always have the means to fill in the details, which is a great avenue for those that can.

Peer to Peer Session

While some people think you have to get straight A’s or be at the top of your class to be a tutor, that’s not always the case. In fact, being a successful tutor isn’t necessarily about how well you know a subject, but rather your ability to relay it to others.

Learning occurs in baby steps, where if you can get someone to understand the concept at hand, filling in the gaps becomes much easier. However, the quality of a tutor in this instance is contingent on their ability to understand concepts in their own learning style and then relay it to others. After all, the best tutors can convey a subject to having others grasp a universal understanding.

For example, let’s say I’m a tutor that’s an excellent auditory learner. Any lecture I’m able to recite front to back, and oral/written exams are my high point. My best match to tutor someone is a person that struggles with essays or paying attention in class (I.E.: a visual learner). This is because my strengths in terms of being able to recite information into words counter their ability to learn with pictures. Now, if I wanted to go the extra mile in helping them, I could easily take the words/subject at hand and ask them about how they visually picture each thing. From there, we could have them paint a full picture in their head of how all the events/concepts are orchestrated.

To master the peer to peer sessions, you first have to be able to master your own learning style, as well as figure out how it can translate to working with others. This is considerably one of the harder ones to truly be amazing at, but it can also be one of the most lucrative routes financially.

Ability to Draw or Organize Infographics and Study Guides

It may sound silly, but a lot of people are absolutely terrible at organization. Not in the sense of lacking comprehension, but in the manner that they don’t know how to consolidate material into a visually digestible form. Even though we consider this a strength for visual learners, almost every other learning style (aside from kinesthetic) can benefit from this skill as well.

As a talent you potentially have that others don’t, people love one-stop shops for information. A well-designed study guide or infographic can help cut out the clutter for them, as well as hones in on the key points. Additionally, these can be excellent supplemental materials for courses as well, especially for auditory learners.

While developing the skill set to make these requires a lot of time and effort, the rewards can be a fruitful hustle.

Trading Recordings of Lectures

Even though this is literally something anyone with a smartphone could do, it’s a great time-saving technique for a variety of learners. Especially ideal for auditory, listening back to lectures helps pick out useful terms and concepts a professor relayed. This tool can also be great for visual learners who listen back and come up with visual cues, as well as for read/write learners, who can tune in and write down the points they find imperative.

The market for trading these materials isn’t nearly as strong as written notes quite yet, but as EdTech has been evolving, don’t be surprised if a market for it comes sooner than you think.

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Final Thoughts

One of the most beautiful things about growth hacking the learning process is the two-sided equation of making money while simultaneously making our time more efficient.

EdTech is eventually going to expand to a point where our learning techniques are going to become more streamlined in our day-to-day. No longer will we have to rely on the monopolies at hand that dictates to us a limited supply of resources to learn, those defeat the purpose of what learning is actually about.

Forcing people to buy certain materials, read specific books, and go about learning in a manner that is basically driving a certain revenue stream is very soon going to be an outdated practice. After all, your education isn’t defined by the books you read, the lectures you attended, or the test scores you achieved…it’s defined by the mental skill set you’ve acquired through knowledge. One that will leave an indelible impression upon you for the rest of your life.

In the end, this is an exciting time for anyone who cares about learning. We’re entering an era where we have the most knowledge of not only how to learn, but what to learn with, and how those tools can be used to collaborate (as well as make some extra money).

As Mark Twain once famously said: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” And with a number of resources we’re able to collaborate with today, imagine how much more true those words will ring into the future.


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