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  • Writer's pictureIan Gibbs

Optimising Your Learning: Three Essential Concepts to Bear In Mind

Whether you're studying for exams, learning new skills for your career, or simply broadening your knowledge, learning is an essential skill.

Nevertheless, learning can be challenging, and it's vital to understand how our brains work to optimise our learning techniques.

So in this weeks blog I'd like to explore three essential concepts you should consider when trying to learn something new or helping someone else to learn.

Limited Input

The truth is that your brain can only cope with a limited amount of new information at any given time.

And when I say limited, I mean about 3 to 5 new things at once.

If you try to take in too much, you can quickly become overwhelmed - your thoughts become fuzzy and it can be challenging to retain information.

To avoid this, you have to introduce new knowledge gradually.

Start by breaking down the subject matter into manageable chunks and focussing on one concept at a time.

For example, if you're learning a new language, focus on learning just a few specific phrases or grammar rules before moving onto more advanced topics.

Too much in one sitting is just asking for trouble.

This approach will give your brain enough time to process and store information without getting overloaded.


Multicoding is the practice of using various methods to receive and store ideas.

This could include traditional methods such as reading, listening, watching videos, or more creative ones like doodling, singing or making 3D models.

But the more you use, the more you help your brain to create stronger connections between its different parts, which can improve our memory retention and recall.

So, if you're learning about a new process at work, in addition to attending the training day or reading notes, you could try summarising the new ideas into a doodle format or record an audio of yourself explaining them.

This works because it allows you to engage with the subject matter in different ways, helping you to remember it more effectively.


Finally, one of my favourites.

Vocalisation is the process of putting new ideas into words and discussing them with others.

When you explain a concept to someone else, you are forced to clarify your thinking and organise our thoughts logically.

This can help you identify gaps in your understanding and reinforce your learning.

Furthermore, discussing ideas with others can expose you to new perspectives and ideas, deepening your understanding of the subject matter.

So, if you're learning about a specific historical event, you could discuss it with friends or family members to gain new insights and perspectives.

Effective learning is crucial to our personal and professional growth, and understanding how our brains work can help optimise our learning strategies.

So the next time you're studying or helping someone else learn, evaluate these three concepts of limited input, multicoding, and vocalisation.

Are they being used or abused?

By doing so you can ensure that new information is being taken in more effectively and retained for longer.

That's what Learnability is all about.

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