MOOC Feature: Barbara Oakley’s Learning How to Learn

My love for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) stems from my discovery of the online learning platform, Coursera, during the second semester of my sophomore year.

I was so excited that in the months following my discovery, especially given that it was free, that I took more online classes than I did real classes. I signed up for way more than what was a realistic work load. Some were boring, some required a lot of work, some I just downright didn’t understand. For the most part, I was a lurker on the threads and watched the videos and attempted a quiz once in a while to gauge my progress.

But there was one course I took eventually that I would recommend to anyone. It’s called “Learning How to Learn“, hosted by Barbara Oakley, a professor of engineering at UC San Diego. She is also the author of an amazing book that I read after the course ended, “A Mind for Numbers“.


The course blends techniques applicable to any facet of learning with interviews with clever and successful people (such as chess masters, memory masters, multilingalists, etc.) and examples of how these techniques can be utilized in everyday life.

Essentially, there are two modes of thinking in which the brain operates, “active” and “diffuse”, and two types of memory, “working” and “long-term”. The course focuses on how we can take advantage of our natural mechanisms.

She offers strategies against our biggest enemy, procrastination, and introduces methods like the “pomodoro technique” and “chunking” to improve our efficiency and memory and allow us to see the big picture.

Check it out! The next session begins on May 23th, 2016. I highly recommend it, because you can literally apply these simple strategies to anything. Plus, it’s free!

Are you a LHTL alumni? Share your experiences in the comments below!


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