November 22, 2022

Project-driven learning and learning-driven project

Project-driven Learning

When I start working on a project to achieve some objective, solve a problem etc without thinking about learning something specific. Learning in this case is a by-product of the project. I do all that is required to make progress in the project, figure stuff out by Googling and looking for answers elsewhere. All of this contributes to the learning around different domains that the project touched upon.

Eg. for Design System at work, some of the learnings would be type-scale, colour shades, creating a colour palette generator in Figma etc.

Project-driven learning would also need some sort of reflection time in order to consolidate and structure the learnings. Without this, the things I learnt would be in my subconscious without there being any way to reference that later, and also no way of measuring my own knowledge.

Most of the projects we do in our profession would fall under this category. They are driven by business or user-problems. We learn as a by-product of completing the project, or when we figure things out after being stuck.

Learning-driven Projects

This is when a project is specifically targeted towards learning a new tool or skillset. This would require a lot of time-management, task breakdown and PM skills. This is not an organic project where the requirements of the project would guide the way.

It would take a lot of planning and efforts to structure such projects in a way that make them organic. That could mean defining the project goals, creating a universe to offer some context to help make decisions etc

Eg. Creating 10 type posters in Procreate to learn – Procreate, Type Poster making. As another example, I designed and developed my website in Webflow in order to learn some additional skills with Webflow. This was a project driven by the intention of learning something new.

Similar to my website, most other personal projects may fall under this category. They are driven by the curiosity to learn about a new technology, a new tool. A successfully published project is a tangible result of the learning process, trials and errors that went into it.

Learning something without applying it to a project is more often than not a futile effort. This is one reason project-driven learning can be useful where learning is a consequence of the the project through the journey.

When learning is attached to a project, it has some context. Without one, anything learnt exists in silos, without a host if you will. And those learnings will perish soon.

Often times we observe after going through an entire course, that we are not able to replicate the lessons learnt in a project. We eventually have to look things up again.

This is probably why a lot of coding bootcamps, schools model their courses around learning-by-doing – where you can see the results of the code, tinker with it and observe the results.