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Google It: Learn by Asking More Challenging Questions

Google It:  Learn by Asking More Challenging Questions

I have always considered myself fairly tech savvy, but over the last year, I have had to learn more technological skills than ever before.  I had to teach myself advanced Microsoft Word skills in order to prepare a near-perfect dissertation.  And most recently, I taught myself how to setup a website, to blog and podcast, and to embark on a self-publishing adventure.  What made all of that possible?  It came down to asking enough of the right kind of questions and becoming a better googler!  If I can do it, you can too 🙂

learnFreeImages.com/ Chris Baker

Getting Burnt by What You Don’t Know that You Don’t Know!

Throughout my life, I have continually been caught making mistakes because I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  My first classic memory of doing this is writing an entire paper in high school on “Dorthy Day” not realizing that Dorthy is actually spelled Dorothy.  How was I supposed to know that?  I didn’t have any friends with that name and the even though I had watched the Wizard of Oz numerous times, I only heard that name, I didn’t read it.  As you can imagine, my teacher indicated that I should have known. I should have looked that up.  Why would I look up something that I didn’t know what wrong?

Doctoral Student Template Woes

Some things continue to plaque us throughout life.  Over the past five years, I have been a doctoral student and my university graciously provided me with a 67-page template to follow for my dissertation.  Sounds great right!  I thought so too until I had my first real formatting review.  I thought I was good to go, followed all the rules, and would surely get a glowing report.  That’s not exactly what happened.  In fact, I received a response informing me that there was a template and that I should use before submitting any further work.  WHAT?  Are you kidding?  I have spent months trying to perfect my work with this template and it looks like I didn’t even use it?  What was going on here?  I needed to get to the bottom of my template woes and fast!

Word Document Section Breaks

I must say, I have had the honor of working with awesome IT staff over the last several years.  One of them (Cheryl) introduced me to the concept of section breaks in Word documents.  This means that you can divide a Word document into parts and the different parts can follow different rules.  I needed to learn about this when I was working with APA (American Psychological Association) style formatting and teaching students how to set up their papers correctly.

The problem I ran into with my dissertation template was that I did not realize that there were numerous section breaks set up that followed different rules.  I had accidentally removed one of the sections in the beginning of the document.  This caused all the sections to bump forward and created a huge mess.  Section four was now using section three rules and section five was using the section four rules etc.  Once again, I was making mistakes because I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

4 Tips for How You Can Learn New Things Too

I am certain that I am not done learning things the hard way.  However, I have started to change the way I think and am now teaching myself privately before showing the world my faults.  Here are 4 tips that will help you learn new things too.

  1. Finding the Easier Way.  So many times we start to tackle a new project and think to ourselves, “This is way too hard, way too much work.  There has to be an easier way.”  You’re most likely right, so start Googling and see if you can find a better solution.
  2. Asking the Right Questions.  Sometimes the question is so complicated in your mind, you feel overwhelmed and don’t know what to type into a search engine.  When this happens, go for short simple sentences.  I encourage you to try something like, “Microsoft Word section break help.”
  3. Using your Learning Style.  We do not all learn the same way.  Personally, I prefer visual demonstrations and hands on learning opportunities.  Therefore, YouTube video tutorials are my friend.  Check out this tutorial on “How to use Section Breaks in Microsoft Word 2010.”  If you learn a different way, look for resources that meet your need.
  4. Accept NO Excuses.  Most of us have much more potential than we give ourselves credit.  I am a nurse and a teacher, not a technology expert.  Nevertheless, using primarily free online resources, I now have a website, a blog, a podcast, multiple social media connections, and am writing a book that I intend to self-publish.  If you have always wanted to learn something – it’s time- DO IT!

Reflection Questions:

  1.  What are you struggling with right now, that you need help learning?
  2.  Which of the 4 Tips are you going to try this week as you work on learning something new?




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