The Power of Random Acts of Learning

by Race Bannon on June 20, 2013

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Sometimes it’s just fun to poke around various places to see what we can learn. Sure, learning that has a specific objective makes sense most of the time, but there are occasions when random learning suits a purpose.

Why pursue random learning? Often we get stuck in a learning rut. We investigate only those few subject areas in which we have significant interest. That’s logical and as it should be most of the time. However, there is tremendous power in random learning.

Random learning forces us out of our subject area comfort zones. It brings us to information and ideas we might not encounter otherwise. This broadens our educational horizons and keeps us open minded.

Stumbling upon interesting facts and ideas stimulates our thinking. We never know when something will act as the catalyst for a deeper understanding of a topic or a completely new path of learning we might not have anticipated.

All knowledge is interconnected on some level. So when you expose yourself to random learning there’s a good chance you’ll identify those connections in ways you would not have otherwise. This sort of holistic educational approach allows us to find more ways to interconnect our knowledge and thus make it more useful in our daily lives.

There are many benefits of random learning, but how do you do it? Here are some of my favorite ways.

  • Wikipedia’s Random Articles. Go to Wikipedia and click on the Random article link on the left side of the page. You’ll be presented with a random article from the online encyclopedia’s vast repository. I do this almost daily and am often fascinated by what I learn about things I would never have naturally sought out.
  • Six Degrees of Separation. Pick any online information source. Let’s take an online article as an example. Read it. Then find something within the article you can search on or a link you can follow. Once you do that, find something within the next source to do the same thing with. Keep going until you’ve visited six new sources.
  • Fact Me. This site contains interesting facts compiled by Sunil Nagaraj and presented in concise daily chunks. You can even have random facts automatically emailed to you.
  • Daily Knowledge Tree. A blog that presents you with a short daily post from which you can learn something new.
  • Poke around on refdesk.com. Check out their Fact of the Day, Site of the Day, Thought of the Day, This Day in History, and other snippets of interesting information.

Do you have specific ways you like to pursue random learning? I’d love to hear about them.

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