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“Learning How to Learn”: Brain, Memory, and Focus

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Nowadays, there is a large number of opportunities to learn about almost any topic online –even for free. Although anyone can upload content and it is sometimes hard to verify their expertise on a certain topic, there are also reliable websites committed to online learning. One of them is Coursera, which offers courses created by renowned universities from around the world[1]. You can take most courses for free without getting a certificate, whereas if you want the certificate you have to pay a fee.

There are some advantages to studying online and on your own:

  • You can handle your available time
  • You can adapt the course pace, even read or watch the lessons over and over again
  • You can learn about any topic you love, with no need to leave your house (or couch)

Of course, if you really want to complete the course, you will need a bit of willpower, since no one will control you. On the other hand, some may want to learn, but they argue, ‘It’s been so long since I left school… I can’t study anything.’

Well, one of the courses included at Coursera can help you put your mind to work again: “Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects.” It comprises four modules:

  • What is Learning?
  • Chunking
  • Procrastination and Memory
  • Renaissance Learning and Unlocking Your Potential

The course helps you understand how brain and memory work, why it is so hard to focus when facing a tough subject or something we dislike, the techniques we can use to enhance focus and productivity, and the importance rest and exercise have in improving our performance.

The teachers –Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski– have a deep insight into the subject, and their dynamic videos and simple comparisons make the course completely pleasant and educational.

Besides, they offer tips and interesting data, based on the latest research, which can bemental-2301393_1920 applied to many areas of everyday life –it is not only destined for students and professionals. One of those tips has to do with focus: taking short breaks is a good idea to encourage focus when we are working with challenging and demanding tasks, instead of spending endless hours on them. The Pomodoro technique, for example, involves removing all distractions and completely focusing over 25 minutes, and then taking 5 minutes to do something different.

An interesting detail included in the course is related to the way we highlight when studying a text. Dr. Oackley says that it is as if making lots of motions with your hand fools you into thinking you’ve placed the concept in your brain. Instead, she suggests trying to look for the main ideas before making any marks, and keeping it to a minimum: one sentence or less per paragraph.

You can learn anything‘ is the main idea of this course, which has become the most popular, according to a recent article that appeared in The New York Times.

What do you think? What subject would you like to learn about? Your opinions and suggestions are welcome! Did you enjoy the article? Like it and share it with your friends! Thanks!

Do you need a translation? Click here to find out how I can help you meet your linguistic needs.


[1] You can also find free courses in other websites, such as Khan Academy, edX, MIT, Udacity, Schneider, Code Academy, etc.

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