June 17, 2020

Learner Spotlight: Sharlyne Slassi on Her Approach to Learning

Life’s thrown us a curveball. But it’s also provided an opportunity. People, generally speaking, have more time on their hands. You can binge-watch an entire series, check off one-by-one the books on your ‘to read’ shelf, conquer a home DIY project, etc. You can also learn something new and grow as a person. 

Every option is valid, but if learning and development is something you want to tackle, then we’re here to help you. So we’re sharing a series of learner spotlights that uncover what some of our users are getting up to during the lockdown. 

I virtually sat down with Sharlyne, Product Designer here at Learnerbly to get some insight into what she’s been tackling during the COVID crisis.

Sharlyne’s key takeaways:
  • If lockdown frees up some mental space, you can use it to focus on that thing you felt you never had time for.
  • Experiment with your approach to learning and development to discover what methods and mediums make things sink in best for you. Some people need structure, and some require a relaxed approach. Test and explore for yourself to find your personal solution.
  • Choose something you enjoy, not something you feel obligated to learn.
  • Whatever you choose, dive in and do it! Sometimes you have to leave theory and reading to the side so that you can try your hand at it. 

What have you been learning lately?

React JS! It’s part of our frontend tech stack at Learnerbly. It’s not a characteristic of my role per-se but having this skill set allows me to better understand the work of my colleagues and to pitch in on certain tasks when I’m able. I’m around code — so I wanted to learn it. 


Why did you choose this time to tackle this specific learning goal?

Before lockdown, I didn’t feel I had the mental capacity to learn this properly as there was always something else that took priority, personal or professional. I’m lucky and privileged to feel that I have the space and time to learn this now.


Was it always the plan to learn something during lockdown?

Nope. I bought an Xbox and had a mental list of movies and tv shows to catch up on. 

Now we’re a month into lockdown, and my console currently sits in the poor financial decisions box. I will probably get round to sinking time into a good game, but I’m happy with what’s happening right now learning-wise.


How have you found focusing on one topic rather than multiple?

It’s easy because I enjoy it. Otherwise, it would be hard to motivate myself to work on it. If experience has taught me anything, it’s that spreading myself too thin does more harm than good. If I take on too much at once, I find I have to go back and relearn things. This is especially true with coding because it requires so much practice.

My day-to-day job has taught me the art of breaking things down and being purposefully focused. Here, it’s focusing on learning more React. 

This time has also helped me understand my learning style and what motivates me to learn. I’ve found that I’m much more of an on-demand learner where I learn at a time of need. Then what motivates me to dedicate more time to learn something is if I feel that what I’m learning is killing multiple birds with one stone.

So practically speaking, whilst learning more React, I’m also pushing production code, making improvements to the platform, and gaining more experience working with a real codebase, all in one go.


Is remote learning what you thought it would be?

Yes, I feel that I have more alone time to dedicate to this and I’m less self-conscious! So I’m more comfortable making a lot of mistakes, correcting them and then learning from it. Being at home also allows me to go with the flow. I learn when I have time and when I want to, I don’t put myself on a schedule; otherwise, it can start to feel like more work on top of the work I already do. I want it to be as exploratory as possible. 

How do you structure your learning? 

Often when we think learning we think about it in a more structured fashion, whether it be attending a course or class, or reading a book cover to cover, as typically, that is what we’ve grown up doing through the educational system and for many that is how we define learning. We box it into that environment.

But in truth, we learn all the time whether consciously or not, structured or not, so being sympathetic to that notion and reflecting on our own preferences helps shift our mindset to widen the scope of learning beyond a school’s walls.

My approach is a relaxed one, and so my structure is loose. It’s more about tapping into how I feel and asking myself —  is this something I really want to do now or would I rather do something else? When it starts feeling like I have to do it, it’s usually a signal that I need to take a step back and focus on something else for a while before returning to it.


What would you tell the furloughed workers who are about to use Learnerbly’s platform?

Experiment. Experiment with your day, experiment with your routine and experiment with how you like to learn. Figure out what works best for you. Maybe it’s not sitting down watching someone speaking on a subject — or maybe it is. Maybe it’s more ad-hoc, or maybe you crave more structure. Eventually, you’ll get a grasp on what approach keeps you interested and learning.

Also, this might seem obvious but don’t pick any skill or topic just because you need to learn something. Have fun with the process of finding that thing you like and want to learn more about.

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