• Dan Chamorro

My Weekly Full-Stack Developer Journey — Week 1: Learning to Learn




This week, I mainly focused on how to learn and retain the knowledge I acquire. One huge problem I had was the ability to retain what I have learned. Going through Lambda School was amazing and I was introduced to so many concepts, languages, and frameworks over our 8-month full-time curriculum from 11 am to 8 pm all while running a business and a family.




But the big question was how much did I remember? Although, I keep my Github very green(which means I code every day), I found myself still going back to google to get answers that I think I should have already known. I would find myself reading the documentation to a package and the package would mention something like pure functions. I’d say to myself, wait what’s a pure function again? or when trying to test my Redux knowledge, I’d say wait what does dispatch do again? It was clear to me that just going through the learning process with no study plan was a terrible idea.




Spaced Repetition



After researching the best way to retain information I came across the above video about spaced repetition. Oh, how I wish I knew about this nine months ago. The concept is simple, you study things you want to learn and retain, in intervals of time just before you are about to forget what you've learned. Our brains will forget things that we don't deem important. But the more we see or do something, our brain recognizes the importance of it, thus keeping it in memory longer. This is great! But how do I implement this?


Flashcards


Flashcards

In comes flashcards. Flashcards go hand in hand with spaced repetition. But before I went out and bought a hundred flashcards, there had to be an app for this right? Yep, hundreds of apps. After reviewing a bunch of them I settled on two.


CodeCode Ninja



The first one is called CodeCode Ninja. This app is specifically designed for programming and as far as I can tell it’s the only one of it’s kind. With this app, you add the code, then choose parts of the code that you want to remember. As you progress through each card, the ones you got right you see less often and the ones you didn't you see more often. This is exactly what spaced repetition is about. I use this app exclusively for code review. The next app I use is…


Brainscape


With Brainscape, I use this app for remembering concepts and definitions. You can build your own cards and add pictures to them as well. This app also follows the spaced repetition model.


Conclusion


Now, when I learn something new I add it to my flashcards list. Every day for one hour I review my flashcards. Sometimes if I'm somewhere and I'm bored or waiting in line, instead of playing a game on my phone I pull the apps up and start my flashcards. I now feel more prepared than I ever been on my road to becoming the best full-stack developer I can be.

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©2019 by Dan Chamorro.