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Leveraged Learning

How the Disruption of Education Helps Lifelong Learners, and Experts With Something to Teach

By Danny Iny
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  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Leveraged Learning by Danny Iny

Leveraged Learning (2018) provides a six-step process for designing and implementing an optimized method of learning or teaching any subject. Drawing on recent advances in the field of education, its lessons are equally applicable to those pursuing traditional, newfangled, or self-led courses of study – no matter whether the aim is personal, professional, or academic advancement. 

Key idea 1 of 9

The content of leveraged learning begins with knowledge – but it doesn’t end there.

What makes food taste good? Much of it comes down to how the chef layers certain fundamental flavors like sweetness, sourness, and saltiness. 

Education can be similar. A leveraged learning program consists of six layers of education that a teacher, course, or self-led learner fuses together into an optimal blend. 

Let’s start at the bottom. The first layer is the most obvious one: the content of the program. Of course, this will vary greatly depending on the subject matter, students, and program objective. A college-level class on medieval European history will have vastly different content from a web-based guitar class!

But some general lessons do apply to any leveraged learning program. 

The key message here is: The content of leveraged learning begins with knowledge – but it doesn’t end there. 

Whether you’re a graduate student attending an MBA program or a professional practicing Spanish on the Duolingo language-learning app, ask yourself this: Why are you actually learning? The answer is probably that you want to acquire some sort of knowledge. 

The knowledge could involve declarative memory – the ability to memorize information, facts, and vocabulary. For an MBA student, that’s memorizing the meaning of “ROI.” For somebody learning Spanish, it’s the translation of “hola.” 

Another type of knowledge is linked to procedural memory – the ability to memorize the steps of carrying out a task, like preparing a budget. Procedural memory normally goes hand-in-hand with declarative; you can’t create a budget if you don’t understand financial terminology. 

Either way, some sort of knowledge is fundamental to learning new subjects or skills. Knowledge is, in fact, the foundation of education. But the whole point of learning is to build something on top of that foundation. That usually means being able to do something with your knowledge. And whatever you do, you want to do it well.

That MBA student might be learning about entrepreneurship because she wants to start a successful business. And the Duolingo addict might want to learn Spanish to have fluid conversations with people in Latin America. 

Of course, that requires learning a lot of words in Spanish. But it also means being able to use those words – not just with basic fluency, but with a high level of mastery. 

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