3 Learning Techniques for Staying up to date with new Technologies


(This blog post is the subject of a talk Alejo is presenting at Austin on Rails, Feb. 24th).

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

There’s never enough time to learn everything you want. And it always seems like you already have things to do in the time you do have.

So, what are 3 learning techniques that can help us optimize our learning?


Podcasts are great to listen while you’re cooking, eating, showering, commuting, walking the dog, going to the bathroom, getting ready to sleep. Basically, there’s always time for a podcast.

The Bike Shed and Giant Robots by thoughtbot

(The Bike Shed is my favorite one. They’re 9 episodes in, and in the first one they introduced me to Sandi Metz’ rules, which I still think about constantly. Giant robots is not very technical, but provides great insights into the culture and vision of one of the best Rails consultancies out there.)

Ruby 5 By Code School

(Big emphasis on what’s new this week in Rails. Really condensed.)

Ruby on Rails podcast by Sean Devine

(The original one. High level/low level, there’s content for everyone)

RubyRogues by DevChat.

(Aaron Patterson, David Brady, James Edward Gray II, and Peter Cooper as panelists in the first episode. Cool episode about Service Oriented Architectures at Square)

Remote Book Clubs. Everyone reading a different book.

When there’s a new and complex subject you want to learn more about, what better way than to do it from all angles possible? But you might be thinking, I don’t have the time.

This is why we’ve formed a remote book club, where everyone reads a different book on the same topic. Then, we all write summaries and do a small workshop on Google Hangouts to share what we learned.

The amount of insights you gain from approaching the same problem from different perspectives is incredible. Get 3 or 4 people together, and give it a go! You’ll read 4 books with the time cost of 1.

Build up a learning streak.

I’m on day 15 of spending 30 minutes every day learning Angular.js. There are days where I’m not in the mood for learning at first, but I’ve made a commitment to myself to keep this up for at least 21 days.

Inspired by a Jerry Seinfeld, who used to write an X on his calendar the days he wrote at least one joke. This commitment to building a streak technique, is a great way to keep yourself learning.

The more people you can involve in your commitment, the better. At our company, there are many of us doing 21-day challenges to learn new stuff. This helps build a culture of learning, where we encourage and keep each other accountable.

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