• Vernon C. Lindsay, PhD

Ultralearning Instructional Design


Before reading this post, take a minute and think about something you have always wanted to learn.

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Your time is up! What have you desired to learn, but for multiple reasons, never made the time or financial investment to make it happen? Write it down.

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Now, I want you to ask yourself why did you want to learn that skill or topic. Were you motivated by money or something intrinsic? Your what and why are the critical starting points to begin every learning adventure.

If you need more time to think about these questions, wait, and then proceed to read this blog post with an open mind.

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Are you with me? I am going to ask you two more questions, and then we will explore the topic of ultralearning on this last Friday of Black History month in 2020.

Do you think it is impossible to learn a new language to a level comparable with a native speaker in three months? Is it absurd to believe that a person can earn the equivalent of a four-year undergraduate degree in one year? If you've answered yes to either of these questions, you have not considered ultralearning.

Ultralearning is a combination of intense self-guided study strategies to develop skills and acquire knowledge in a brief period.

Imagine learning the four-year curriculum of a major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in one year. This achievement is possible through an obsessive approach to reviewing archived lecture videos, completing class assignments, reading recommended texts, and taking advantage of other resources.

If you're not convinced, this is possible. I understand your skepticism. If someone claimed the ability to finish an undergraduate degree in one year, I would not believe it without seeing a transcript or performance results on an assessment.

Continue reading for more evidence of seemingly impossible learning accomplishments.

Scott H. Young wrote the book Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition and Accelerate Your Career. In the book, he describes his experiences with finishing the requirements for an MIT computer science degree in a fraction of the expected time and learning multiple languages in one year. Young accomplished these learning feats without enrolling in school.

The strategies Young shares in his book are adoptable by anyone, including you, with discipline, a caring mentor, and a burning desire to master a subject or skill. You have to commit to learning about how others learn a given topic. This idea of learning about learning, meta-learning, is in itself a tedious, but a necessary first step in the process of mastering a difficult subject.

Derived from ample research and his experiences, Scott H. Young suggests that ultralearning involves specific self-directed learning techniques that begin with clarity around a learning goal and doing the research on how others have learned the desired subject or skill. After learning about learning, you should proceed to engage in direct practice, seek critical feedback, and experiment with creative applications.

Without awareness of this term utlralearning, I began an intense project to advance my knowledge and skills in the field of instructional design.

Since September of 2019, I completed twenty-three LinkedIn Learning certified courses in topics relative to instructional design. I also enrolled in a four-month online course led by a seasoned instructional designer with experiences in higher education and the corporate sector. Last week, I earned a continuing education certificate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after finishing their Instructional Design and Foundation online course offered through Coursera.

With the awareness and abilities I gained through ultralearning instructional design, I created a portfolio. The samples in my portfolio reflect my fifteen years of teaching experience, combined with my understanding of instructional design to this point. It also includes examples of my video editing skills and blog that are valuable in relationship to instructional design.

I am excited to share these services with my employer, other schools, and businesses. In my portfolio, you will find examples of courses I have created for higher education institutions and corporate enterprises. View my exciting new portfolio made public on my website Wednesday by clicking here!

The need for new delivery methods of information is rampant in the education and business fields. Higher education institutions need online eLearning course options to reach students around the world. Businesses want cost-effective blended learning training programs to teach employees new skills and to improve job performance.

The educational theories and practical applications I acquired through ultralearning instructional design have put me in a position to create an additional strand of income. There exists a surplus of remote freelance opportunities for instructional designers with schools and businesses. Sites such as Indeed, Upwork, and LinkedIn advertise new positions every week.

The road to mastery in instructional design is a life-long commitment. Despite completing over twenty courses on LinkedIn's Lynda learning platform, earning a Master’s track certificate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and finishing an independent course led by my instructional design mentor, I realize there is much more to learn.

I am committed to the process of personal development.

If you’ve ever wanted to pick up a new skill or enhance an old one, I suggest you consider a self-guided ultralearning approach. You don’t need to invest thousands of dollars or dedicate four years of your life to earn another university degree. Your learning goal will require discipline and other resources.

Find a mentor in the field and create a study plan. Yes, you will need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Expand your professional network through social media platforms. Make a schedule that empowers you to invest consistent effort and energy into developing your desired knowledge and skills.

I discovered the book, Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career, on Audible this month. Since downloading it to my iPhone’s library, I have listened to it three times. I am finding the learning and study strategies relative to my work of teaching medical students how to learn and in my attempts to improve as an instructional designer, writer, and capoeirista. It is also helping me to encourage life-long learning habits in my children.

By now, you know Young’s book helped me write this blog post!

Now, do you remember today's opening questions? I asked you to think about something that you have always wanted to learn and why—remember, clarity around what and why can help you discover a pathway to your learning solutions.

You should buy Scott H. Young’s book, Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition and Accelerate Your Career. The findings presented in the book can help you to begin learning a challenging subject or continue with life-long learning projects. Evidence of this claim is valid through my instructional design portfolio.

If you work for a school or own a business with interests in my services, please contact me. I am happy to consider how I can enhance your training or educational needs.

Thank you for reading, and have a productive week.

#instructionaldesign #ultralearning #personaldevelopment