Learning How to Learn from an Android Dev Perspective

The Android ecosystem is evolving fast. In a world where every person has at least a phone, for mobile developers, being up to date is important.

The objective of this article is to show you some tips you can apply in your professional career to learn and continue growing as an Android developer.

This article is inspired by the Coursera course, Learning How to Learn, by Dr. Terrence Sejnowski and Dr. Barbara Oakley and the book A Mind for Numbers by Dr. Barbara Oakley.

Focus on process not product

One of the first problems developers get into, is finding time to learn and practice. Everybody has different life styles and important things to do besides coding. At the time we want to practice something or learn a new thing, something important arises. And that’s how procrastination kicks in.

One way to avoid this is by learning to focus on process not product as Dr. Barbara Oakley mentions in her book A Mind for Numbers. Product is an outcome, for example, learning how to use Jetpack Compose. Process means a flow of time and actions associated to getting that product. For example, I’m going to spend 30 minutes doing this Jetpack Compose codelab.

By focusing on process rather than product, we allow ourselves to relax into the flow of work and not in the pain on getting the product done. One great way to focus on process is to focus on doing a Pomodoro, a 25 minute timed work session.

Practice makes permanent

But only doing one Pomodoro session is not enough. After a couple of days it will be difficult for you to find the information on how to set a theme in a Jetpack Compose app, unless you practice and repeat at least a few times. Practice the topics you want to learn in order to build and strengthen your ideas.

A technique that helps with the practice process is called spaced repetition. With this technique, you practice what you want to learn, but you need to space this repetition out. So instead of spending one whole evening reading documentation and working on codelabs, is better to spend 30 minutes each day doing the same. Some day you read an article, and other you do some code practice. After a few days, you will have the main concepts in your long term memory.

Recalling what you have learned

Other technique you can use to make sure you are understanding the topics is by recalling what you have learned after a study session. For example, you just have finished a codelab, instead of rereading the codelab, you look away and recall all the steps you did and important things you learn. You can repeat this over the next days. By simply practicing and recalling what you studied you will learn far more and at a much deeper level.

What motivates you?

And finally, you don’t need to learn everything and try to keep up to date with everything. Start with something that motivates you, for example, in my case is Jetpack Compose. When you find something you are really interested in, learning is way easier.

And try to don’t over-learn. Continuing to practice after you have mastered something can become a waste of valuable learning time. Instead you can take a break, or choose something else that interests you, and start doing research about that.

Sometimes we just need to take a pause and learn how to learn. This can help us to keep up to date with technology. I totally recommend the Coursera course, Learning How to Learn, by Dr. Terrence Sejnowski and Dr. Barbara Oakley and the book A Mind for Numbers by Dr. Barbara Oakley.

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Jimmy Morales

Jimmy Morales

Lead Android Developer @ XumaK. GDG Guatemala co-organizer. I love to give tech talks and share with local community.