Many heads learn better than one

Learning better together

Last week, I had two very powerful experiences in the theme of learning. The first one was at work. At Accuteque, we are encouraging our team to engage in the space of Cyber Security, and many in the team have taken up the opportunity to sign up for the foundational “Certified in Cybersecurity” offering by ISC2. The cohort who are working toward this certification is a varied bunch — ranging from system testers, business analysts, project managers, test automators all the way to enterprise architects. As this is a new field for many on the team, we have set up an informal study group that meets online at lunchtime twice a week — yesterday was the first session. The second experience was a similarly online study session over a video call that I had with my niece who is in India.

learning together

Learning experiences

In the session with my work team, the group had a common study objective — we are either preparing for, or have just completed, the same certification. There was a common subject matter, which create a space for people to ask questions, discuss concepts and gain more confidence in their endeavours. The ones who had gone before made themselves available to share their experiences. The study session with my niece, on the other hand, was very different — she was working on fluid dynamics and I was studying concepts of defining secure requirements for software applications. Although I have “gone before” in terms of high school physics, it has been almost three decades, so I didn’t have a lot to offer in terms of subject matter (beyond a love for the subject of physics in general). We both needed to have a deeply focussed block of time to study and agreed to hold each other accountable for the duration.

But what both sessions shared was a space in which we came together to learn — our focus was not on completing tasks or generating ideas, but to take in new knowledge and incorporate it into our existing understanding of the subject. Each person was learning at their own pace and in their own style — reading, viewing video tutorials, writing notes — doing it with even one other person created a space where learning became the norm. Studying deeply technical concepts — whether it is fluid dynamics or secure software — can feel like a lonely endeavour if you are not in a classroom scenario. Having a study group, a study buddy, or even a “body double” — someone who is in the room doing their own thing while you’re studying — helps keep the focus on the learning activity and a sense of safety that you are on out there on your own.

learning for success

Setting up a great learning environment

So here are my tried and tested tips to set up a great learning environment at work:

  • Make learning the norm — valuing learning can become the norm when leaders who may not be formally enrolled as students are openly enthusiastic about concepts they have learned and share their challenges and triumphs.

Learning together - Tanu, Pournami & Olivia

I’d love to hear what other practices you find useful in creating a space for continuous learning. I’m planning to make the intercontinental study sessions with my niece a regular occurrence, just like the study group at work. Stay curious!

 

This post was originally published by our Head of Quality Assurance Tanushree Parial on LinkedIn here

April 28, 2023

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