Coursera MOOC: Learning how to learn

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Just started a new course on learning how to learn. Want to join me? Of course, there’s no time. It is like saying “I was too sick to go to the doctor” or as some physician colleagues tell me in regards to the always-despised EHR: “I don’t have time to learn how to be more efficient.”

My high-school son and I have taken MOOC (massive open online courses) classes; he is taking his second class on astro-biology (cool!). I have taken one on Machine Learning through Udacity.com and this will be my first on Coursera. These online learning platforms are revolutionizing education, and we need to pay attention. There are free versions (what we’re doing) and paid versions, for little cost, to receive a certificate, that require additional documented work for deeper learning.

I came across the “Learning about learning” on my social media feed. Knowing that what builds resilience for me, is feeding my voracious appetite for new ideas, new things to mull over and recombine. So, when reading dead-tree-based books at home (mostly sci-fi, admittedly, and sometimes non-fiction psychology) and listening to audible.com on my commute becomes insufficient, taking an online class seems to fit the bill. It is a multi-week course, with maybe an hour or so of video-based learning with associated transcript, and LOTS OF GREAT IDEAS.

Want to join me? It is a four week course, started last week. Or take the next cycle. The important thing is: keep learning something new. Juxtaposing unfamiliar ideas against your usual work often results in new recombinations, I find.

For example, some neat ideas from the course:  Salvador Dali used to hold a brush while falling asleep and when the brush hit the floor, he would awaken and write down any associations and ideas that came to him just as he was falling asleep. This is an example of unfocused (but likely more creative) thinking. The twilight of our consciousness taps into this free association mindset. Often that unfocused time allows ideas to recombine. This does NOT occur when focused on a particular task, as we so often do.

CMIO’s take?
1. Keep learning something new
2. Consider trying Udacity.com or Coursera.com for something you’ve always wanted to learn.

Author: CT Lin

CMIO, UCHealth (Colorado); Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

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