I’m a huge believer in accepting multiple models as different ways of looking at the same set of data. It’s just simply different glasses to see different things through. One of the glasses I’ve been putting on more consciously is that of David Kolb and his model on experience learning. Read more about it here.
It follows a simple cycle: Experiencing -> Reflecting -> Generalising -> Applying -> (Back to Beginning)
Here’s how I go about applying it. I follow one of the wonderful tutorials from Apple on their iPhone development, focused on simply trying to step through the cycle and get some visible success (Experiencing). I then spend some time thinking about what new tidbit of information I’ve learned (Reflecting) and trying to come up with some way of fitting it my general mental model of how it works (Generalising). I then try it out on my prototype application to see if I truly understood it (Applying).
Having read about the model a while ago, I think there are a few key things to focus on when using this model:
- Keep it small – I could choose to run through all of the different Apple iPhone tutorials one after the other. This doesn’t give me any chance of reflecting, generalising or applying the material. Given my very forgetful nature, working with one tutorial at a time through this cycle is important. I try to keep this cycle in terms of a couple of hours, not a couple of days. Attempt to pick up knowledge incrementally.
- Rinse and repeat – Going through this cycle one doesn’t guarantee you’ll actually learn everything, or even anything. I’ve found I got to the end of doing something and didn’t have any general model. Iterating lets you mine and discover new lessons. I repeat the same exercise, and as I do, I notice I pick up different things.
Interesting it is these two aspects, incrementing and iterating that is at the heart of working in an agile manner. Notice how it’s all about learning then?