Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Deterministic v/s Random learning

The selection between the above two choices is very subjective and i will not get into the debate of trying to prove which one is better than the other. Rather I would like to concentrate on the advantages and drawbacks of these.

Deterministic learning is the way to go when your goal is a deterministic and time bound one. For example if you are preparing for GRE, you clearly know the list of the words that you are supposed to know before appearing for the exam and you also know the high density words which you are suppose to concentrate. Hence you take the list of words you have, divide it by the number of days you have for the preparation, And your list is ready. But this kind of learning is limited in scope and may not help you in the long term. On a positive note it is easier to measure your progress and this method can be highly effective when you are exam oriented.

Random learning is the way to go when you have the long term perspective in your mind. If you are not learning words for the sake of an examination but rather for better understanding of the language and for better communication, then random learning can be of great advantage. There are various ways in which you can learn the words randomly, which i will discuss shortly. The advantages of random learning is that you can make use of the small amounts of time(brakes) also for learning and that it is an unending process(you can keep learning until you desire to). Random learning gives you exposure to various fields which you might not have known priorly. When you are using random learning technique you should not stick to any particular resource and you should make use of every resource that you can lay your hands upon. The drawbacks are that it is very difficul to judge your progress and working in groups may not be that easy.

Deterministic learning is like an incremental learning, with every passing day you know that you are completing the list of words which you are supposed to know by the end of the stipulated time. Random learning is like a jig-saw puzzle though it appears hugger-mugger with every passing day the tiles coincide with each other and bigger picture starts becoming clearer as you go. My suggestion would be not to use one and discard the other, but rather a healthy mixture of the both. The optimal strategy would be determisnistic learning wherever necessary and random learnig wherever possible.

For this having a clear understanding of your requirements plays a major role. Be clear with your requirements. If you are preparing for GRE and you want to learn 1200 word in 100 days, then the minimum number of words you need to learn per day would be 12. So if you take 30 minutes to learn 12 words then spend an equal amount of time in random learning. Though you may not be able to appreciate the advantages of the random learning initially with respect to learning your wordlist, as the time progresses it becomes clearer to you

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