Just-in-time Learning Saves the Day
Right about now, you're starting to panic. Your boss has a request: The Web designer is on maternity leave. You're good with computers, so can you edit some pages on the company's Web site?
What do you do? Cross your fingers and dive in head first. That's the spirit behind Head First Labs, a series of irreverent tech tutorial books designed to help readers learn–and remember–new and complicated information by incorporating storytelling, unexpected images, and hands-on projects.
Published by O'Reilly Media, the books emphasize just-in-time learning, the idea of acquiring just enough knowledge to get by, where and when you need it.
Here's the core of Head First's philosophy: Sometimes you have to trick your brain. Because its primary goal is to keep you safe and out of trouble, your gray matter tends to favor the important stuff (Danger! Fire! Angry boss!) over what it thinks is trivial. The solution: Couple the information you need now with enough unusual images, piquant captions, and unexpected elements to kick those neurons into learning mode.
“When you learn just-in-time, you're highly motivated,” says research statistician John Cook. Because you're already under the gun, “there's no need to imagine whether you might apply what you're learning.”a
But what about those Web pages the boss asked you to edit? With the help of a Head First guide, you learn just enough to make the necessary changes without crashing the site. Your grateful boss rewards ...