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How it Works

Explanation, Expectations and Demonstration

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In this webinar

Dr Justin will explain how the course was designed and the key principles and approaches that were considered. Watch this webinar if you are interested in learning more about how the course works and how it is different to other courses.

Duration: 45 minutes


Many of the methods used in conventional learning are based on outdated or inaccurate interpretations of research. Furthermore, there is very little research that considers the practical aspects of learning under real-world pressures, from a learner’s perspective.

The uniqueness of the iCanStudy approach is fundamentally due to a combination of the following:

  1. A strong focus on the learner’s perspective (rather than the institution or educator’s)
  2. A practice-first approach instead of overly theoretical or abstract ideas that are common in academic research
  3. A complete re-conceptualisation of learning based on only the most recent research, instead of simply iterating on existing norms and conventions
  4. High frequency feedback and optimisation based on heavy interaction with real learners using our approaches for real challenges

This combination has unintentionally led to a novel and unconventional approach to learning while abiding by the principles and findings of latest research in learning science, without many of the limitations that are increasingly found with traditional methods.

Most learning tips and techniques are either isolated and unsustainable, hard to use in different contexts, or simply do not stand up to real-world demands.

We have carefully combined, modified, and developed multiple techniques and strategies to produce a flexible and adaptable learning system that you can use for most kinds of learning.

Our learning system is designed to exploit the way your brain tends to work (based on the latest research). Unlike many conventional methods of learning, our system works with your brain, instead of against it.

The result is:

  • More confidence with learning
  • Better retention of newly learned information
  • Deeper understanding and greater ability to apply information for complex problem solving
  • Faster skill development
  • More enjoyment of learning!

While it sounds too good to be true, it is a predictable outcome from a system designed purely based on what works, with everything else surgically removed, and then optimised for several years across thousands of students.

For a more comprehensive overview of the principles we considered when designing the program and a history of our development, please read the Report on Learning below.

The iCanStudy program implements the following core aspects:

  • Intrinsic cognitive load optimisation through self-regulatory practice.
  • The usage of note-taking to facilitate beneficial cognitive processes, as per cognitive load theory.
  • The combination of techniques in a full system whereby each technique complements or enhances other techniques.
  • Development of high procedural, conditional, and declarative knowledge competency through the strategic implementation of interleaving and efficient encoding or re-encoding activities.
  • Development of self-sustainable learning behaviours (sometimes referred to as sustainable learning in education) through experiential learning cycles and direct training in meta-learning (learning metacognition), improving monitoring judgement accuracy (with respects to cue utilisation), and cognitive-generic skills instruction.
  • Facilitation of early-stage higher-order thinking skills and attainment of higher-order learning as a priming step for creating broad knowledge schemas.
  • Facilitation of growth mindset development and highly critical reflective practice (designed for a positive expected value of marginal improvements).
  • Improving focus and attention management.
  • Improving time and task management.

Supplementary concepts and techniques are omitted in this list for conciseness.

The iCanStudy program is a cognitive-generic skills training program. This means that the skills that are developed are highly transferrable across multiple disciplines and fields of knowledge.

In much the same way that reading and writing skills, arithmetic skills, critical thinking skills, planning and organisational skills, and problem-solving skills can be applied across different disciplines, the skills we teach around learning are a highly specialised and comprehensive system of tools that learners can apply and modify for different needs.

The following domains are considered an ideal fit whereby almost all techniques will be applicable:

  • Science
  • Humanities and arts
  • Business
  • Medicine
  • Political science
  • Theoretical mathematics
  • Philosophy
  • Art history

The following domains are considered a good fit whereby many techniques will be applicable, but a few will require modification or are unnecessary:

  • Engineering
  • Coding and programming
  • Music theory
  • English writing

The following domains are considered a partial fit whereby some techniques will be effective, but many will be unnecessary or require modification:

  • Second language learning

The following domains are considered a poor fit whereby most techniques will be unnecessary or require modification:

  • Performing arts (e.g. drama, music, dance)
  • Fine arts

The program is designed with busy individuals in mind. It is recommended that at least 2 to 3 hours per week are available to spend on course content. There is minimal benefit from spending more than 10 hours per week on course content, as improvements will be significantly limited by the amount of skills practice.

There is an expectation that members will practise the skills they learn regularly on top of the time spent working through course content. However, as the new skills will replace existing techniques and approaches, this should not add significant additional time compared to the existing time you are already spending on learning.

For example, if you spend 20 hours per week on learning, you may spend 2 hours per week learning new skills, then replace 10 hours per week with new skills. 

Therefore, you would spend 22 total hours per week engaging in either learning or the iCanStudy program:

  • 2 hours of iCanStudy content
  • 10 hours of old methods of learning
  • 10 hours of new methods that have replaced old methods

The rate of progress and improvement for an individual following a schedule like in the above example would be significant.

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Technical overview

For a more in-depth overview of the iCanStudy learning system and its theoretical basis, please refer to our Report on Learning below.

About the report:
This report outlines the basic principles we have found pertinent to practical learning skills development and how the iCanStudy program is designed around each consideration. It is also a reference document for those wishing to learn broadly about some trending topics within the learning science domain.

Updated: August 2022
Cite this report as: Sung, J (2022). Report on Learning: A Practical and Learner-Centric Perspective. iCanStudy

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