In a world that’s changing rapidly, the ability to learn a new skill as quickly as possible is becoming a necessity. To remain valuable in our economy, therefore you must master the art of quickly learning complicated things. If you don’t cultivate this art, you’re likely to fall behind as technology advances. With the Fast Track Project, my mission was to help interested individuals speed up their learning process and master any skill in less time.
I conducted the Fast Track project, learning the problems and empathizing with individuals who wanted to improve their personal and professional growth. Decades of learning strategies were also captured from best-selling books and tailored to solve the purpose of this project. I then wrote a book that serves as a complete roadmap to mastering skills the right and rapid way.
Since the completion of this project, numerous testimonials from users have been stated, declaring the straightforward application of Fast Track. Readers can combine the love of knowledge and self-improvement while learning mental models to help them to thrive in the new economy.
Hi, I am Zamai! I created and worked on the Fast Track Project. The goal of this project is to show people how to learn rapidly and acquire skills in less time. I enjoy reading and thought of ways to speed up your learning process and master any skill in less time.
The initial questions that ran through my mind were: Is it possible to pick up skills at a rapid pace? Is there a template which young and ambitious people can easily adapt and learn in a fast and more fun way?
A mentor once said, “There is a hard way and an easy way to learn something. Always try to find out the easy way and save yourself the stress.” This case study expands on what Fast Track is, and the results of the project.
I am a user researcher for this project. I led all of the interviews, the end-to-end process and came up with the deliverables.
Even though this started as a personal project, the information was shared with young people and unsurprisingly, they all faced the same problem. The problem of learning at a slow pace.
Overall, the project took a total of five months i.e., 20 weeks. This involves a breakdown of:
Discussing the project: 2 weeks
Recruitment of potential users: 1 week
Studying and taking notes from relevant books: 7 weeks
Survey and interviewing users: 2 weeks
Deliverables and user-testing before final launch: 8 weeks
RESEARCH STATEMENT AND GOALS
The Fast Track project was to find and create open loops and life hacks to studying and mastering any skill. Learning a skill involves observing and practising this capacity to manipulate a specific set of symbolic information related to that skill. As a UX researcher, I wanted to understand how anyone can learn anything and develop skills rapidly if given the right set of tools and principles.
What were the goals of the research project?
- Develop a roadmap to mastering skills the right and rapid way.
- Compile practical hacks with detailed steps and examples to help speed up your learning process
- Create a handbook on mastering new skills in an easier way
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY, ANALYSIS, AND SYNTHESIS PROCESS
For this project, I decided on two different methods to fit the timeline and maximize its impact:
- Studying selected previous books about skill mastery and optimized learning
- Surveying the prospective and final users
In a world where information is the new currency, reading is the best source of continuous learning. Books give you the freedom to roam the expanse of space, time, history and offer a deeper view of ideas, concepts, emotions, and body of knowledge. This was the basis of using the first method. It is also a form of qualitative user research. Books were selected based on genre, popularity, and relevance to the project and the problem it solves.
These books include:
- A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley
- Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- Limitless by Jim Kwik
- Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa
- Sword In The Stone by T.H. White
- The First 20 Hours by Josh Kaufman
- The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
- Ultralearning by Scott H. Young
These books were studied to narrow their lessons, experiences and merge their ideas into a single handbook. To get the most out of this research method, I read to absorb. This was done by summarizing the key findings from the selected books. This process distils the ideas from the book into their essence, their applications, and solutions to the user.
For the second method, the survey was a series of open-ended questions to enable participants to express themselves while sharing their input. Some of these questions include:
- Have you acquired any skills or learned something new recently? How did you do it?
- Did you have any challenges learning it?
- What could have been the solutions to these challenges?
- What do you think it’s the best way to learn rapidly?
- What do you think are the important things to note if someone wants to learn skills very fast?
- If you want to study and enjoy a book that will help you learn and develop skills faster, what should the book contain?
The full survey is still available at https://bit.ly/ZamaiFT
RECRUITMENT CRITERIA AND PROCESS
For this study, we started with individuals who were already looking for ways to better themselves.
Some of my recruitment criteria include individuals :
- Currently learning a skill or needs to learn a skill for career advancement
- Struggling with his or her learning processes
- Seeking ways to improve themselves professionally or personally.
- Enjoys stories and loves to read
I used the following tools for recruitment:
- WhatsApp for direct messaging and calls
- Survey monkey (Now Momentive) to create and collate the survey questions and answers
Three user personas were created from the recruitment and survey process. I chose to create personas because I wanted a better understanding of who would benefit from the Fast Track project and why. These personas also enable me to avoid biases and assumptions during decision-making, and what should be prioritized first.
These user personas were:
Client Persona 1: The Busy Executive
ABOUT: The busy executive works the typical 9-5 and needs to learn skills for career development. He is looking for storytelling, concise words and how it’s done in a solution that deals with rapid learning.
Client Persona 2: The One-Man Business
ABOUT: The one-man business works remotely either as a freelancer or entrepreneur. He needs to learn skills for smart work and boost his income streams. He is looking for illustrations for technical stuff, and real-life stories for non-technical stuff in a solution that deals with rapid learning. Mental notes and YouTube videos/articles will also be appreciated.
Client Persona 3: The Solo Leveller
ABOUT: The solo-leveller loves to read books and learns skills for personal development. She is looking for detailed steps, anecdotes and valid examples with pictures from a solution that deals with rapid learning.
OUTPUT AND DELIVERABLES
The main deliverable – a book was created with the personas at its core. To boost the experience of the users, this book is divided into three sections called “laps”:
- The first lap (The Tools) which highlights the fundamentals and tools needed to start mastering any skill.
- The second lap (Depth: Deep Work and Deliberate Practice) which explains how to break a skill to simple forms and know the true form of practice.
- The final lap (Feedback and Progress Report) which shows how to stay consistent, get the right feedback and maintain a system that fast tracks anything you want to accomplish.
A cheat sheet was added at the end of each chapter. This cheat sheet consists of a checklist of to-dos when learning your skill and adopting the Fast Track. The book will be published very soon on Amazon.
During the course of writing the book, I also continually shared my findings in an email newsletter and one-on-one conversations with friends while asking for feedback. Furthermore, I created a user journey map which transformed into the outline of the book.
In addition to the deliverables, I presented the book to real-life users from different facets of life including a portfolio manager, a software developer and a communications associate. The book presentations were taken very well, and I felt empowered to use the insights to further iterate on the project before the final launch.
IMPACT OF THE FAST TRACK PROJECT
Since the completion of this project, numerous testimonials from users have been stated, declaring how simple and straightforward application of the Fast Track book. Readers are able to combine the love of knowledge and self-improvement while learning mental models to help them to thrive in the new economy.
On a larger level, research helped me realize the importance of diligently researching for your users and adopting a design-thinking approach
Finally, the project moved from a personal objective to a more user-centric mindset and the excitement of conducting research with the aim of solving problems for a target audience was fulfilled.
REFLECTIONS, CHALLENGES AND NEXT STEPS
What went well:
- People were excited about the results of the research and ready to apply the steps in their own life.
- Additional tools like storytelling, diagrams, chapter summaries and checklists were employed in the final deliverables. This makes the project more appealing to visual learners and users with short attention spans.
- Constant and iterative feedback and user-testing was done throughout the project. This shows I truly wanted to know how this project can provide a solution to a real problem that the users are having.
In sum, the Fast Track project is usable, equitable, enjoyable and useful.
The research methods took longer than expected. It also took a while to satisfy the needs of the final users. Nonetheless, the users will be put front and centre even if it starts as a personal project
I am now following up on some pain points with ideation and usability testing:
- More audio-visual aids will be needed to communicate the results. These include videos and podcasts. This will boost inclusion and accessibility to other users who prefer other modes of learning, apart from reading.
- Accountability tools will also be needed to ensure other potential users maximize and enjoy the user experience of the Fast Track project.
I will continue to validate the customer journey map with more interviews and feedback from the final product.