The purpose of taking any course, whether online or in a school building, is to learn — and currently, the most popular online course in the world is meant to teach its students how to do it. A neuroscientist and a teacher have teamed up to bring the online world a “general introduction to the art of learning,” according to John Markoff of the New York Times, and the course has become quite a hit.
Aptly titled, “Learning How to Learn,” the online course was created by electrical engineer Barbara Oakley and neuroscientist Terry Sejnowski, who is the director of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory in La Jolla, California at the Salk Institute for BiologicalStudies. Earlier in December, a survey of the fifty biggest courses available online revealed that this class ranked the highest. The website for the Online Course Report released a report that stated:
“The MOOC Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects covers a number of learning techniques that are utilized in a wide array of fields. Subject matter includes learning about the two main (and very different) ways in which our brain learns, as well as how the brain tends to “chunk” information. The course is geared towards anyone who is actively seeking to learn new skills or information, and who is ready to assess and improve the way they learn. While educational theory is covered, the course also covers a wide number of practical learning tips. To date, the course has garnered more than one million enrolees, only the second MOOC to achieve this benchmark in history.”
As the New York Times explains, the course is meant for those who wish to improve their performance of learning. It works by using what we know about how the brain learns, according to Dr. Sejnowski. Coursera explains that the course makes it easy for students to access the learning techniques that are invaluable for mastering sports, art, science, music, math, literature, and many other areas of learning.
Students in the course find out how two completely different learning modes are used by the brain. They are also taught how the brain stores large bits of information. Lessons in how to deal with procrastination, how to increase memory, and how an individual learns are also included.
Since its creation last year, almost 1,200,000 students have signed up to learn how to learn.
The course is offered through Coursera by the University of California. Coursera was founded in 2012 by Stanford computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. In just three years, the platform has grown to partner with over 130 higher education institutions worldwide to offer roughly 1,500 courses.
Since debuting as a course platform, Coursera has begun to offer course sequences and certificates to certify completion, including allowing users to show their accomplishments on social network profiles such as LinkedIn.