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Well, I have been starting habits of self studying (for the purpose of self improvement) and was making some progress (two months so far). However, one thing I'm not able to do well is blog about my progress learning.

The situation for me is usually like this on weekdays:

  • I study before and after work when I reach home
  • About 30 mins before sleep time, I decide to blog.

But my mind tells me that by blogging, I will lose 1 study session, thus "slowing" my learning progress. Even though I'm going to blog about what I have learnt for the day, which can act as a review as well as getting public feedback (if any for a hardly known blog), it still; feels like lost time. So instead I tend to study more and sleep.

So how useful is blogging about ones' learning as compared to using it as 1 more study session? What kind of return on investment is there that I might be missing in my cost-benefit analysis?

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I don't think I know something unless I can explain it (to a real person or to a «rubber duck»). So yes, blogging is definitely useful, even if you have zero visitors — it's a way to check that your knowledge «compiles». –  Mischa Arefiev Feb 27 '12 at 11:53
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@MischaArefiev +1 for rubber duck, and for knowledge that compiles –  sq33G Feb 27 '12 at 13:05
    
@MischaArefiev: Please post it as answer, it'd be the best answer (at least by far). –  Gigili Feb 27 '12 at 15:21
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"The best way to learn is to teach." (Frank Oppenheimer) –  WalterJ89 Feb 29 '12 at 12:56
    
I was wondering..If I were to do a brain dump of what I learn. Sometimes I could write stuffs exactly as how the author of a book writes it (because I find his way of saying it is easier to remember) even though it's just a few sentences. Could I be sued? It can be pretty troublesome if I lift a definition from a book and have to cite the source everytime when I'm simply just blogging for learning purpose when the post contains content of my own understanding and some key passages from the book. –  snowpolar Mar 11 '12 at 6:06
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15 Answers

up vote 26 down vote accepted

Having been on the instructing side of academia for a while, I students all learn differently. It takes a lot of nerve to even write a personal account of what you are thinking about. Blogging takes that to another level.

One of the hardest things to learn in any subject is how to intelligently expresses and explain your beliefs. Keeping a journal, rewriting notes, blogging are all examples of the necessary practice needed to excel at communicating. Additionally like most forms of practice it builds confidence and character.

The added benefit I see in blogging comes not from the first post, but the active reflection on comments and learning to maturely respond to comments. This is why I encourage classes to work together in creating a private wiki of the knowledge they are learning in my courses. I find it builds a community around learning and encourages intelligent communication among peers.

Do the blogging and with your readers.

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I would like to hear perspectives from others on this since I've not yet gotten around to trying it myself. I can't speak to the effectiveness as part of the learning process, but I've read that there are other reasons to blog about what you know besides just helping yourself learn. The reason that most comes to mind is to establish a professional web presence that you have full control over. Future employers will google you, and you want what they find to establish your credibility and knowledge of a field.

For this to work as intended, though, you need to probably write higher quality material less frequently than a 30 minute brain-dump exercise would allow. If I were just going to do a 30 minute brain dump, I'd write anonymously or just on my own computer. The internet doesn't forget, so I wouldn't be publishing garbled crap on a regular basis anywhere with my real name attached.

I maintain a private wiki on a domain that I own to host my meeting notes and class notes. It's not a perfect system, but it has been useful several times to be able to access my notes and their revision history from any internet-enabled device. If you want to get into an online writing habit but won't be producing stuff you want the world to see, many cheap webhosts have pretty painless automated wiki setup (usually equivalent in difficulty to deploying wordpress on your own domain).

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It depends on how you define learning progress. If the goal is to learn something more deeply, writing about it does help. If you want to learn more things less well, skipping a reinforcing step makes sense.

I don't know if I would blog about something I just learned either. Depends on how good it would be.

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I think you should try it and see the results for yourself - study yourself and know the things that work and the things that don't; and have fun with it.

Personally, I learn best when I add what I call the 'human element', which means that I need to talk with people about what I learn, share the knowledge and ask questions, that's why I love Stack Exchange (I'm still new to it though).

Now back to your question.

If you have readers to read and interact with you through the blog, I think it's a good idea, but it's not easy to have that, especially if you're just starting. - I also think that the blog is great when the topic is subjective enough so that people would have different ideas/thoughts to respond to your posts.

A private blog could be useful if you plan to go through your posts by the end of each week or something, you need to try it and see if it works for you. (if you decide to try that, I would recommend writing very short summaries, so that when you go back to your posts, you would try to recall the details instead of just reading them - this helps a lot)

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I have heard this a lot, for example from Tony Robbins, that it is a good thing to be learning material as if you intend to teach it to someone else. You appear to obsorb material far better if you know you have to be teaching it to someone else.

If you see blogging about what you learned as a method to teach it to someone else, it could be very beneficial to you. You have to have a very deep understanding of the material if you want to teach it.

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Even without comments from people reading your posts, the act of blogging (I find) helps me internalize, and often clarify, the knowledge I've picked up.

The obvious bonus of having an easily searchable, taggable, accessible repository of what I've learned or discovered is what sold me on blogging.

And the ability to write decent English is a highly desirable skill, at least according to Joel (see the subheading "Learn to write before graduating"). The only way to get or stay good at this is to force yourself to write, and a blog is a decent medium for that.

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I think it is matter of personality as well. Some people love when they can present their skills and love writing about their new knowledge. I tried to write my own blog, but I found out, that I don't like it. I like to study, to know something new, to practise it, to talk about it with colleges, but I don't like to write my blogs. It was just next MUST thing in my life, and that made me more hurry. If you enjoy writing, write. If not, don't do that and spend that time with something you like to do.

For revising I use Anki, there I have all the stuff which was new for me and I want to remember it. I think the internet article can make you more popular, or in the other hand, it can point on things you don't know properly. Writing about stuff you are good at, and you work with it longer time, is great, it can help another people. Revising stuffs from one day study (or one week study) is not complex, has less information value and is more prone to mistakes.

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Yes for me. Sometimes I blog about stuff to offload it to a place where I know I can get it later and I don't have to memorize it.

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Blogging about what you're learning about is so completely useful. I've been doing it for a while, and here are some of the advantages I've come across:

  • If you can get the right community to read your blog posts, you can get a lot of awesome feedback. They can point you to resources, and point out places where you may be fuzzy on the concept.
  • It helps you clarify your thoughts, writing for an audience. Things you might not have looked over again are reviewed as you double check the content of your posts.
  • You have a quick resource to turn to, should you ever need to look back over the contents of a class.
  • It helps people who teach or write teaching materials to see where someone might be struggling.

If I had to choose, I would choose blogging over one more study session. My mind is more focused when I'm blogging. When I'm studying, if I'm tired, or distracted, or the material is boring, there's the risk that I'm not taking in anything extra.

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In late 2003, I read a great article by Louis Freznel on [almost] this exact topic, entitled "How To Teach Yourself Almost Anything".

In it he makes the following points:

Clearly identify what you want to learn. Write it out.

Write some learning objectives for yourself...

Identify some initial resources. Start with books at the local bookstore or go to www.Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble at www.barnesandnoble.com...

Check out online sources. Do one or more Web searches, or go to relevant company Web sites. You may run across an appropriate tutorial, white paper, or application note that will give you what you need...

Organize your materials. Lay them out, mark them up, and then make an outline based on your objectives...

Dig in. Set aside an hour a day or whatever you can to go through the materials...

And he concludes with the most salient point, in my opinion:

Write a paper or article or teach what you have learned. You have to know it to write it or teach it. There's no better way to learn for yourself than to have to explain it to others.

What you write can say a LOT about you - your interests, your views, your skills as a writer (eg, early writing will typically not be as good as later writing since you are getting more practice, and - hopefully - improving).

Even if no one else ever reads what you wrote, you'll know you did, and can come back and review it/reference it/revise it later.

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I find it very useful to set my mind straight before writing a large assignment. It trains you ability to structure and point out your "pearl of wisdom" more explicit. So in the end I think it will save you time in the long-term.

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If I understand the question correctly, you want to know whether you should study the theory or put it into practice. Right?

Studying is important because you learn new stuff, you gain new perspectives, you learn from the mistakes of others...

With blogging: You practice creating value. Which I find really important. Right now you may feel like you aren't doing a good job. But if you keep persisting, it will pay off! You will form your own opinion about the stuff you learn, you'll think more critically and you'll learn to write for an audience.

So do both!

Just remember, A wise man is worth nothing if he doesn't provide value. Blogging can be your way of providing value.

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Blogging about what you are learning is extremely useful if you want to understand the topic better. As it has been mentioned here already, explaining a topic in way that others can understand it forces you to understand it better.

But what if you are incorrect, and you publish false information about a topic? This is another advantage of blogging about it. Because your blog is public, there is potential for you to receive critique and instruction from someone who may know better.

Your blog is also valuable as a study journal of sorts. If you organize it well, you will be able to refer back to posts you've made and make valuable connections to future studies. Then you can document those in the blog posts and link posts together.

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Yes. I found some unexpected consequences. By blogging about a topic I was learning, I found that my blog posts were being picked up on Google and that people would often correct me and offer new and more elegant solutions to the problems that I had solved.

Also, once or twice my blog entry became number one hit on Google for that topic and many people interested in that topic posted in the comments, almost forming a community around the blog entry.

Just writing down the topic will clarify it in your mind, but writing it in a blog entry will expose your efforts to public scrutiny. All good stuff.

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I do this and it helps to an extent. You won't remember every fix or detail you come across. Why not write them down? Not only are you leaving instructions for yourself if you ever need to come back to it, you are opening up the solution to the internet as well.

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