Learn by doing

Last week I wrote about How to learn X? and this week is a follow up on the learn by doing series. In this article, I’ll talk about why I like to Learn by Doing and introduce #TPAPitchside 2020.

Pradip Khakhar

Why Learn by Doing?

As someone who has been in the position of a student and professor. I’ve seen and experienced both sides. Last week, I talked about looking forward to French class in secondary school and how the vibe of the class changed when the teacher changed.

As many of you know I have a full-time job (which I love and have an awesome boss I work with. If your reading this boss – your awesome) however, I also teach at a local university for about nine years now and over the years I have tested different teaching techniques and materials and here’s what I found:

  • Students can read, listen or watch videos anywhere. If you don’t interact with the student why are they in class. They can read, listen or watch videos at home.
  • When introducing new topics provide an opportunity for students to ask questions, and provide them with meaningful feedback.
  • Gear the knowledge that you share towards helping students learn a new skill that they can apply in the real world.
  • When the students start applying the skill in the real world be there for them, providing support and coaching.
  • Help facilitate group discussions, peer learning, and a sense of community and cause in the class.

In my opinion, when you shift the mindset to Learn by Doing, the students start to appreciate the class, subject, and your role. Here’s what I mean. Traditionally, education was about someone standing in front of the room and lecturing for a period of time, then they would ask you to go to page X in your textbooks read the chapter and answer the questions at the end of the section.

Be Practical

To an extent topics need to introduced and discussed, I find that setting practical exercises can be more rewarding, for example:

  • Bankruptcy – I ask students to complete a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition
  • Contract law – I ask students to draft or review a sample contract
  • Computer aided legal research – I ask students to write a memorandum of law based on a fact pattern

In the above examples, it is important to share the theory behind the respective subjects. However, the end result or skill the students learn is relevant to a potential job the student may do if they worked in one of the areas of law.

Run small experiments

Over the years I have been running small experiments during meetups, corporate training and while teaching at a local university. Here’s what I’ve found;

  • Tweak how you deliver your message, for example, to show how important communication is and how easily the message can be misinterpreted I did a simple exercise using lego.

    I asked for two volunteers and asked them to sit in opposite directions so they cannot see each other.

    The only way for them to communicate is to talk. Both volunteers were each provided the same set of lego pieces and the task was that one person will build something using the lego pieces and talk to the other person.

    The other person would use the verbal directions provided and try to build the same lego model as the first person.

    This exercise has become very popular as the audience can see what both volunteers are building (the audience cannot provide any direction). At the end with the big reveal, we can see how closely their lego models matched.

  • After each event ask the audience what they liked about the session and what they didn’t often you’ll get some very useful feedback that you can incorporate into the next session.
  • You cannot please everyone, some students will be very appreciative and eager to learn more and maybe someone might complain that you have a British accent and they had a hard time understanding you (Only has happened when the student didn’t like their grade).

Introducing Pitchside 2020

This week I am super excited to announce Pitchside 2020 – Learn by doing is a one-day event for Product Managers designed to step up your product management game.

Pitchside 2020: Tickets go live on Monday, October 28, 2019. Click To Tweet

What we will cover

The goal of this event is to help Product Managers develop the skills and mindset to collaborate and communicate effectively in cross-functional teams. Combining lecture-style teaching, simulated exercises, and conference-style talks to create a learning environment where you can practice your new skills.

This is a full day event starting at 9 am EST and finishing at 6.30 pm EST, with six sessions:

  1. User research and (interactive) customer discovery interviews
  2. How to validate ideas quickly and effectively (interactive) mapping ideas to a MVP
  3. How to build a community around your product or cause
  4. Negotiating in a cross-functional environment (interactive) – simulated negotiation
  5. Collaborating and communicating with the design team
  6. Collaborating and communicating with engineering

The schedule and what we cover is subject to change.

Pitchside 2020: Tickets go live on Monday, October 28, 2019. Click To Tweet


Tickets will be available to buy Monday Oct 28, 2019.

  1. Online only. A recording of all sessions, slide decks, and handouts. $95
  2. Early-bird, Full day event (Limited availability). Buy your ticket before Dec 31, 2019. $195
  3. Regular ticket. Full day event $295
  4. Regular ticket + Dinner. (Limited availability). $395

What’s next:

We have an amazing line up of speakers and topics for Pitchside 2020, starting:

  • Monday, Oct 28th – Pitchside 2020 event page will be online and tickets go on sale
  • 30th Oct, Noon EST – Announcement of speaker 1
  • 06th Nov, Noon EST – Announcement of speaker 2
  • 13th Nov, Noon EST – Announcement of speaker 3
  • 20th Nov, Noon EST – Announcement of speaker 4
  • 27th Nov, Noon EST – Announcement of speaker 5 and 6

Wanna get involved?

What do you think, let me know your thoughts? does this concept interest you, or do you think it will be a fail? would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Feel free to reach out via social or using the form below. If you’d like to get involved let me know, how you can help.

Posted by Pradip Khakhar

Hi, I'm Pradip Khakhar. Product Manager and Founder The Product Angle.