Coursera: Q&A with Dr. Barbara Oakley on teaching and learning tips
New course on Teaching Unusual Sense from Dr. Oakley, the instructor of the best-selling Learn to Learn course
As digital transformation rapidly transforms the world, learning has become a core skill – one that McKinsey calls “a critical driver of long-term career success.”
To help teachers equip the next generation of students with tools to learn better, Dr. Barbara Oakley today launched a new course, Uncommon Sense Teaching Part 2: Building Community and Habits of Learning.
The second course, which complements the first released last summer, provides neuroscience-backed tools and practical information to help everyone – from seasoned educators and instructors to parents – get the most out of learners.
We caught up with Dr. Oakley to find out how his new course can help teachers solve classroom challenges.
What can a teacher learn in your new course?
In increasingly diverse and often online learning environments, teachers strive to bring out the best in all their students, channel their abilities, and keep students engaged.
I truly believe that online education can help match and even surpass the results possible in a traditional classroom! In 2014, I started creating online learning courses because of my own experience. I wasn’t good at math or science, so I had to rewire my own brain as an adult to learn them! At that time, I remember wondering why no one had written a book or given a course on learning. effectively based on what we know from science about how the brain learns. Once I saw how many online courses learners could reach – over 3.8 million people have taken my Learn to Learn course – I knew I had to share some similar advice on how teachers could instill these lessons in their students around the world.
This new course, taught alongside Dr. Terrence Sejnowski and Beth Rogowsky, is based on my latest book, which was recently named one of the top ten books for educators. The cognitive psychology and neuroscience-related insights we teach will improve your teaching skills and, therefore, the way students learn. So all type of learner develops the ability to master anything – be it math, science, dance, literature or art.
Can you share some tips on how we can teach and learn more effectively?
There are a few key elements to incorporate into everyday life:
Students can be faster (“race car”) or slower (“hiker”) learners. So structure the teaching. Give hikers smaller information. As slower learners, they learn more deeply and often more creatively. Riders may learn faster, but also jump to conclusions faster and have trouble correcting themselves when they make mistakes.
Understand that the way we learn facts or information is very different from our knowledge of skills, such as learning to ride a bike. The first (declarative route) is primarily conscious learning, the second (procedural route) develops through practice and occurs unconsciously.
The more you recover what you have learned, the more you remember, learn and understand it. But don’t cram all the information all at once. Space it out and try to explain it to someone else.
Try the Pomodoro technique to learn more effectively. Avoid all distractions (including your phone). Set a time limit for yourself to focus fully on the task at hand. After the time is up, relax for five minutes and don’t scroll through the Instagram reels!
Does this course focus on in-person or online instruction?
Classrooms have changed dramatically today and are often mixed learning environments. So, you can use this course as a kind of introduction if you are new to teaching online courses. Observe the custom tone we use throughout. Or how simple visuals and animations convey complex ideas. Note how fun metaphors, puns, and analogies are great tools for keeping learners engaged. In addition, each module contains quizzes and additional readings to deepen your knowledge. and test your understanding.
How did the learners react to the course?
It has been wonderfully gratifying to know that many have found it tailor-made to perfect their teaching. and learning skills. As one learner put it, “How can you teach without knowing how learning works? It is also heartening to see that many have come away with inspiration, guidance and hope in these uncertain times – where the teaching experience itself has changed so much. This very evolution in our way of teaching led me to start working on another course. Online Teaching, the final course in this series, will be launching soon!
Complete Teaching Common Sense: Part 1 before enrolling in Part 2: Building Community and Learning Habits.