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Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

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About Course

This course gives you easy access to the invaluable learning techniques used by experts in art, music, literature, math, science, sports, and many other disciplines. We’ll learn about how the brain uses two very different learning modes and how it encapsulates (“chunks”) information. We’ll also cover illusions of learning, memory techniques, dealing with procrastination, and best practices shown by research to be most effective in helping you master tough subjects.

Using these approaches, no matter what your skill levels in topics you would like to master, you can change your thinking and change your life. If you’re already an expert, this peep under the mental hood will give you ideas for turbocharging successful learning, including counter-intuitive test-taking tips and insights that will help you make the best use of your time on homework and problem sets. If you’re struggling, you’ll see a structured treasure trove of practical techniques that walk you through what you need to do to get on track. If you’ve ever wanted to become better at anything, this course will help serve as your guide. This course can be taken independent of, concurrent with, or prior to, its companion course, Mindshift. (Learning How to Learn is more learning-focused, and Mindshift is more career-focused.) A related course by the same instructors is Uncommon Sense Teaching.

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What Will You Learn?

  • Explain the difference between focused and diffuse modes of thinking.
  • Explain what a chunk is, and how and why you can and should enhance your chunking skills.
  • Explain how working memory and long term memory differ from one another.
  • Describe key techniques to help students learn most efficiently such as: the Pomodoro, metaphor, story, visualization, deliberate practice, and interleaving.
  • Describe actions that hinder students from learning most effectively, such as procrastination, over-learning, Einstellung, choking, multi-tasking, illusions of learning, and lack of sleep.
  • Describe the most important aspects of proper test preparation.
  • Explain the importance of “mindset” in learning.

Course Content

Week1: Focused and Diffuse Modes
Although living brains are very complex, this module uses metaphor and analogy to help simplify matters. You will discover several fundamentally different modes of thinking, and how you can use these modes to improve your learning. You will also be introduced to a tool for tackling procrastination, be given some practical information about memory, and discover surprisingly useful insights about learning and sleep.(Please note that this module should only take about an hour--the extra time quoted relates to purely optional activities.)

  • 04:00
  • Terrence Sejnowski and Barbara Oakley–Introduction to the Course Structure
  • Welcome and Course Information
  • Guidance in Applying for Continuing Education or Professional Development Credit
  • Using the Focused and Diffuse Modes–Or, a Little Dali will do You – Video
  • What is Learning? (Video)
  • Get to Know Your Classmates

Procrastination, Memory, and Sleep



Week 2: Chunking—The Essentials
In this module, we’re going to be talking about chunks. Chunks are compact packages of information that your mind can easily access. We’ll talk about how you can form chunks, how you can use them to improve your understanding and creativity with the material, and how chunks can help you to do better on tests. We’ll also explore illusions of competence in learning, the challenges of overlearning, and the advantages of interleaving.

Seeing the bigger Picture

Week 3 Procrastination
In this module, we talk about two intimately connected ideas—procrastination and memory. Building solid chunks in long term memory--chunks that are easily accessible by your short term memory—takes time. This is why learning to handle procrastination is so important. Finally, we talk about some of the best ways to access your brain’s most powerful long term memory systems.


Week 4: Renaissance Learning and Unlocking Your Potential I
In this module we’re going to talk more about important ideas and techniques that will enhance your ability to learn. You’ll also discover how to more profitably interact with fellow learners, how to recognize your own strengths, and how to avoid the “imposter syndrome.” Fighter pilots and surgeons use checklists to help them with their critical duties—you can use a similar checklist to help you prepare for tests. Ultimately, you will learn more about the joys of living a life filled with learning!

Renaissance Learning and Unlocking Your Potential II

Summary of the Course

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Student Ratings & Reviews

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2 years ago
This is an amazing course. The design, flow and videos help gain understanding of the content in a seamless manner. The learning is highly engaging because of the simplicity of concept and the clarity of ideas provided right from the beginning of the course. additional content makes the learning more fun and exciting. The best part of this course is that one can apply the learnings of this course to anything and everything that you are learning or wish to learn. This is must do course for anyone who wants to keep learning in this journey of life
2 years ago
This course was eye-opening. I learned so many great techniques that I can immediately incorporate into my daily life. Thank you so much to the creators of this course for such invaluable information. I think as life long learning advocate, I recommend this course to anyone whether you are in corporate, fresh graduate or a student.

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