Innovations are the engines of progress, and knowledge is the engine of innovations. No one would dispute how new knowledge is important for self-improvement, especially in such a field as computer engineering. Sometimes it’s not enough just to finish an online IT course. What is more crucial is what you have learned and how you apply this knowledge. So we will talk about five principles of how a software and computer engineers can get and use new knowledge for their everyday tasks.
Principle #1: The best way to understand something is to explain it to others.
Let’s imagine a situation in which you have to get into a new aspect of your professional area. Your usual steps would be: to read a professional book; to visit such websites, as Stack Overflow, or GitHub; to check a forum for developers; and look at something similar. It now seems that you’re done and you know everything you need. But what is the best way to check that you really understand everything from your new field of study?
The first option is to ask yourself different clarifying questions. But to be honest, not very many developers can do this right. The second option is to complete some sort of certification. But this option is most of the time only applicable if you were studying some large field of study or were involved in a long-term course.
One more option is to tell or to explain to someone, for example to a colleague, the new knowledge that you have just learned. In such a case, you can quickly discover any gaps in the knowledge of your new topic. It’s a really useful tool to organize such types of meetings and internal seminars/lectures in any type of IT company. Btw, Softheme regularly organizes such types of meetings when one developer shares his knowledge with others.
Principle #2: IT is like a sport – you have to practice all the time.
The IT world is changing very quickly. All the time some new innovations are appearing. New technologies, programming languages, protocols, software, and hardware are constantly being launched on the market. In IT you can’t be on the sideline. If you’re not actively following the latest tech trends, then you’re not a part of this big sport.
The only right thing you can do in this situation is to be learning new things constantly. This doesn’t mean that you have to learn new things every day. You just need to spend some of your free time finding something new. For example, you can attend a free online IT course, or some different IT events, conferences, seminars, and so on. Everyone most choose their way of acquiring new knowledge that fits them the best.
Principle #3: Knowledge can be washed away, so refresh the learned material from time to time.
If you are not using some knowledge in your everyday tasks, then you can easily forget it. This is just the nature of the human brain. It’s not enough just to learn new things, but it’s also necessary not to forget the ones that you have already learned.
In the process of learning new things, you can reach a peak all of a sudden where you stop the learning process. Normally this peak comes at the moment when we think that we know enough about this field. For example, it could happen after completing a test or receiving a certification. After this our knowledge could be washed out if we don’t use it. If you don’t refresh the learned material from time to time then, at some point you can forget all the things that you have learned.
The best solution for this is to take certification exams regularly, for example once in two years. In this case you review the learned material and can understand how well you remember the technologies or languages that you have learned some time ago.
Principle #4: IT sclerosis at 30 years?
This one is quite similar to the previous one. Almost everyone can imagine a situation when you have to learn some technology really well for resolving a task. After some time, let’s say couple years later, you have the same task, but you don’t remember the technology and how you resolved it. And you might think that you have some kind of IT sclerosis. This is fine if the resolution can be quickly found in some source and you remember where to find it. But it could be complicated if you need to checkout numerous resources or even to complete some tests in order to find a solution.
The best solution in that case is to note everything you study. You can maintain a personal knowledge base where you can quickly find the needed information and answers to questions that you have already found answers to.
Principle #5: No one is interested in the topic, and of a sudden everyone is asking about it.
Sometimes something magical happens when you’re learning new things. For example, you just stumble across some new interesting material and decide to study it. It is important to mention that this topic is not new for the industry and is not being tracked at the moment. Then after one week, suddenly a colleague or a client is asking you a question about this topic that you happened across. And you’re able to answer them even without taking the time to think. As a result you’re getting a promotion or a new task just because it happened and you knew the answer to that question.
At any moment magic could happen, but let’s say that everything has a reason. Just don’t forget to learn new things and improve yourself constantly, and such magic could happen even more often.