When I was in college, I was often taught that the best way to learn is to teach someone else.
Now that I’m no longer in the classroom, I’ve learned that a shortcut to both — and to maximize effectiveness of your teaching, is to write.
When I write for the purpose of taking notes, to think, or explain something, my quality of my writing has a direct correlation to my level of understanding.
Writing to Learn on @yinadreamsofspace
Previously, I had an Instagram account focused on science communication called @yinadreamsofspace. I used it to share topics related to astrophysics and space exploration. It was related to my passion for space, and I used it as a platform to teach others, and myself, about space concepts.
I did this all through the writing in my captions.
Per The Learning Agency Lab, research has shown how writing leads to better learning — whether it be through note-taking, or even better, re-writing concepts in your own words.
This process represents more active learning rather than passive consumption, and practices memory retrieval as well as processing.
But how you write is important.
Instagram is not the best platform for text heavy posts, each caption has a character limit. At the same time, it represented a reasonable enough constraint that I could use to try and simplify a complex subject into the smallest atomic definition I could design.
Writing this way helped me learn more about space than I could have done through a sheer course alone that was based solely on consumption. By sharing knowledge through my own words on a social media platform, I was incentivized by my engagement to write in a way that was informative, as well as engaging.
It’s a kind of mental Catch-22: the only way not to have to write things down is to write them down so you remember them well enough not to have written them down.
This helped me remember and store these concepts in my long term memory.
This experience blogging about space was one of the periods of my life that I felt like I learned the most — and in a way, was one of the periods I felt the most alive.
It helped me realize the power of writing — what it can do for me personally, and how I can connect with others through my words.