Don’t learn the book, just do

[Photo by VJL]

Mindy McAdams tells the tale of a student who recently came in wanting to become an independent video journalist. The problem: She doesn’t know a lick of HTML.

See her advice to the student.

Some like to take the tack of sitting down with a book and going chapter-by-chapter. Well, feguddaboutit. If you want to learn HTML/CSS, Flash, databases or any other technology, you have to set a project goal for yourself:

-I want to shoot a video about a local character and upload it to a blog.

-I want to start a blog about college baseball.

-I want to make a Google Maps mashup of local Indian restaurants by hand.

-I want to display the results of a database of politicians on the Web.

-I want to make a Soundslide about the local dog park.

Take that goal, and then use that book selectively to find the skills you need to accomplish what you want to do. If not, it’s like trying to memorize the user manual of a video camera instead of just running around filming interesting stuff.

If you try to swallow that whole book in one shot, there’s a good chance you’ll kill your enthusiasm and never learn.

Author: Danny Sanchez

Danny Sanchez is the Audience Development Manager at Tribune's and Danny has been with Tribune since 2005 in a variety of editorial, digital and product development roles in Hartford, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. He has also previously worked in the newsrooms of the Tampa Bay Times and The Miami Herald.

3 thoughts on “Don’t learn the book, just do”

  1. You are so right about just doing it–that’s how I’ve learned almost everything I do on the Web (as a freelancer, right now, the Web is about 35% of my business).

    I’m about to venture into video territory. I’ll just shoot it, see where the editing goes and learn as I go. I think this is the best time in history to be a writer-journalist-content provider (and in my other life, poet!)

  2. you’ve got it, Danny! as with most things nowadays, the manuals give you far more information than you need to start. Almost all the new stuff is hands-on-take-in-small-bites. Your idea of setting a goal, making a list of things to check off when completed, is kind of how I learned to do Power Point. The next steps–like embedding video, if needed–will come later.

    For the student, though, the thing is to just do it. When she graduates, who knows who will want the skill, but she will at least have had some exposure to how to do it.

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