Are you an unhappy learner? Join the crowd.

Having been in corporate and higher education for most of my life, one thing is clear: The systems that have been created for learning – really from cradle to grave – have serious shortcomings. I know many dedicated instructors, teachers and administrators, but most of the infrastructure of learning in my country was created to establish order, bring efficiency, save money and do more with less. And, as Basil Fawlty says: “The hotel business would be great if it weren’t for the guests.” Ah, the human being. Always getting in the way of efficiency.

Just remember that in the history of time and into the limitless future, no person has ever been, or will ever be, just like you. You are a singularity. As different from another as a fingerprint. You are your own algorithm. No one learns exactly the way you do. Nor can anyone teach you in the way you can teach yourself.

So, given this truth and the ubiquity of consumer devices, mobile access and explosion of information on a daily basis, it is time that you took the reins of this sparkle pony. It’s your life and if you don’t take learning seriously, you will be waiting for us to give it to you. And we have organizations to run. Don’t trust our structures to create your competence. Pretend it’s your life.

Here are the nine principles that I feel learners need to adopt within any learning structure they find themselves in: school, university, corporate training, eLearning, MOOCS … you name it.

Know Yourself: What defines you as a learner? Do you know your learning style? What bores you? What makes you interested? Create a learner profile of yourself so you know what methods work best for you.

Create your own structure: If you are taking a Lynda course and find yourself mired in endless screens which have no real meaning to what you are trying to do at the moment: stop! Go back and look at the table of contents and make a structure with bookmarks that follows your line of interest. Also, use a tool like OneNote to create a series of resources, links, videos and tools that can help you.

Use tools that already exist to help you or create your own: Get busy and make some audio notes, YouTube links and Twitter feeds to your mobile Evernote. See what tools are already out there already created to help you. Download an app. If nothing does what you need, make your own. Many successful startups began with just a need to get something done!

Shift the control of the information flow to yourself: If you are in a class where the material seems unimportant, start asking questions to make sure you get what you need to understand during the experience. Don’t sit back and be passive. Be active and engaged. I know it’s another boring class or spacebar-spacebar-spacebar eLearning. It won’t be if you take more control.

Seek expert sources who give you access to information in real time: If you are stuck in the middle of a process and can’t move forward, find someone who can help. Either identify people within your company or school who can answer questions and are willing to use a chat with you when you need it, or find outside sources like Keen and LivePerson.

Find mentors: Find someone who has attained the goals you want and ask them to help you through the process. Find a person who cares about your success and set up regular times to meet with them. From Meetups to Hangouts to Cognibloom, they are out there.

Teach others as you learn: The more you know – and teach what you know – the better you will remember it and the deeper that knowledge will be. Mentor someone else, when you can. It’s one of the fastest ways to learn.

Seek currency, not depth of information at the start: Making sure you have the most current ideas, information and concepts possible are key to your success as a new learner. Use the Google! Find the Ted talks!

Partner and collaborate with technology: Don’t fight it, make peace with it. Understand that you need each other more than ever. Get ready for a new definition of that relationship. Wearable devices you can learn through are just around the corner.

Why don’t you think of some more principles that work for you? What are you listening to me for? Get out there and create your world of understanding. Because – school is out, and it’s your life. Power to the Learners!

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