Coursera offers a free online class called 'Learning How to Learn' that gives you the tools to master any topic

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  • Learning a new topic, whether for a career move or an academic test, is no small feat.
  • The free and popular Coursera class "Learning How to Learn" makes the process easier and teaches students about the science of learning.
  • By understanding the underpinnings of how your brain works, processes information, and builds memory, you can successfully learn any subject you want.

If you want to learn it, chances are you can find it online. Taken by more than 1.8 million students from 200 countries, one of the most popular online classes doesn't teach skills like how to program and analyze data with Python or the basics of intellectual property law and policy.

Instead, the Coursera class called "Learning How to Learn" invites students of all ages and educational backgrounds to pause before diving into those other classes. It wants to reframe your entire thinking about the process of learning and set you up with the most effective learning techniques - so you can master literally any topic.

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This 2018 best-selling class is offered by McMaster University and UC San Diego and taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley, an engineering professor at Oakland University, and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, the computational neurobiology director at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

With videos, exercises, and bonus materials, it takes about 12 hours to complete and has flexible deadlines so you can make it work with your schedule. Those 12 hours offer a toolbox of actionable strategies and a lifelong understanding of how to take on topics that can help you complete your degree, make a major career move, or simply enjoy learning for the sake of learning.

When people have trouble mastering a new subject, they often attribute their frustration and difficulties to their own intelligence or the subject matter itself. "I'm just not smart enough or cut out for chemistry (or finance or literature)," you've probably caught yourself thinking as you struggled through a class.

What's more possible is just that you haven't been properly trained on how to learn. This class introduces you to the two learning modes the brain uses and how it processes information. Other topics include illusions of learning, memory techniques, dealing with procrastination, and best practices for mastering tough subjects. By learning about the science of learning, you can apply the approaches to become better at anything, be it art, math, science, languages, or sports.

Coursera

The class is organized by week, with each week covering a set of different topics. The videos, which can be downloaded, include scripts, interactive transcripts, and subtitles.

There are also optional further readings and interviews if you want to dig deeper into each week's topics, as well as a discussion forum to engage with your fellow learners. And if you're still itching to immerse yourself more in all things related to learning, the instructors send out a weekly newsletter of recommended books, videos, articles, and learning resources.

Like most of Coursera's offerings, "Learning How to Learn" is completely free to audit. You can access all the materials, but you won't receive a grade. To officially complete the course and receive a grade and Course Certificate, you'll have to purchase it for $49.

Enroll in "Learning How to Learn" at Coursera here

Browse all of Coursera's online class offerings here

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