Learning Skills For the Information Age

Information age learning

We need to understand the three principles of processing information:

  1. Volume: The sheer volume of information is increasing exponentially. Every two years, the amount of information doubles and soon, that will double every six months!
  2. Velocity: Not only is there more information, it is coming at us faster and faster, which compounds the Volume problem.
  3. Value: Someone has to assess the value of this information – determine what is important and what isn’t. This takes time!

In another article “Techniques on How to Read Faster and Understand what you are reading” I shared the idea of Schema and how a simple word like “laundry” could help you “connect the dots” in an otherwise confusing text. Once you get the Schema, and your brain knows what it is looking for (something we call “Purpose”), the dots line up and the puzzle pieces come together almost instantly! Schema and Purpose establish the Value of the information you are processing. If you know your Schema and know your Purpose, you will be better able to deal with the Volume and Velocity issues. Let’s look back at a real event where Schema and Purpose would have helped before, and certainly helped after a tragic event.


September 11, 2001, saw America under attack by terrorists. Almost all the information that could have given clues to government officials on what was being planned was easily available. However, with the Volume and Velocity, it was almost impossible to attach the proper Value to the information being processed. Most of the data looked like that “Laundry” paragraph earlier. Unfortunately, it took airliners crashing into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania, for someone to get the epiphany “Laundry!”

Many who remember those events, will recall that officials had most of the dots connected by that evening – even the names and pictures of some of the hijackers. Once they had Schema and Purpose, the information was quickly and easily assimilated.

This is a heartrending example, but like Howard mentioned earlier, it’s the “pain” that makes it stick. The key to finding Value is Schema and Purpose. As you read with Schema and Purpose and know that it is about “Laundry” when you start, you connect the dots quickly.


If you know more than others, you tend to have more options, opportunities, and, of course, more income. A physician certainly has a greater income than a laborer, and why. Because the physician has accumulated more knowledge that has value in our society, he/she has a more valuable position and is thus rewarded for the knowledge he/she is able to apply to help others. People who know more have a strategic advantage over those who know less.

If you are able to read more, better, faster, you can have a strategic edge. The edge will be determined by the value of what you know and can apply. If you read a lot of junk, you might be entertaining at party or in a trivia contest, or even have a crack at Jeopardy, but those opportunities are very long and narrow. Hopefully, you will focus your reading on those things with are valuable and profitable.


Howard mentioned earlier your “brilliant brain.” It might sound facetious, but it is true, and I can prove it. Consider this:

  1. I don’t know anyone who had to send his or her child to remedial Nintendo class.
  2. I don’t anyone who had to hire a Game Boy tutor.
  3. As far as I know, Xbox had never had to “dumb down” any of their games.

We know the capacity exists to learn quickly. When children get a new video game, many usually have it mastered in a few hours. How? They use Schema and Purpose, and they don’t even know that they are doing it! Their memory banks from previous games provide excellent Schema and, of course, they have a lot of “Purpose.” Why should it be any different for adults, who have greater Schema and even more important Purpose.