Learning How To Learn : Course Experience

The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10 thousand other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe.

What is learning? Well basically, forming and consolidation neural patterns.

Recently I took the course “Learning How to Learn” on Coursera. I really wanted to figure out the best way to enhance my learning. And this course has been really helpful. It provides you with the right tools and tips to construct your own learning schedule. Methods shown in the course are scientifically proven and helps you understand your brain better.

Here is a quick summary of what I learned in the course :

WEEK 1 :

There are two modes of thinking :

  1. Focused Mode
  2. Diffused Mode

Focused Mode is where our mind is concentrating on following neural patterns that it is already familiar with and Diffused Mode where our mind is sort of relaxed and is ready to find new neural patterns.

Why we procrastinate?

Studies have shown that we procrastinate because when we are about to start a task that we are uncomfortable with our brain activates the parts that correspond to pain and thus wants to stay away with it.

Solution? Well, just get started. With practice this feeling will go away.

Don’t think too much and just “eat that frog”.

WEEK 2 :

Chunking : A chunk is a small interconnectable piece of information that you can learn at a time.

Basic idea behind chunking is to get a bigger idea of the topic that you are going to study and divide it into meaningful chunk. These chunks then get interconnected to to help brain learn effectively.

Mastery is just the art of increasing the number of chunks that you can interconnect.

Personally, I feel chunking is a great way to tackle procrastination too.

Illusion of competence :

When you are done with learning a topic. Force yourself to recall it.

What motivates you? Having a feeling of motivation and excitement towards learning helps the brain learn more effectively as feeling motivated releases dopamine which causes happiness.

Overlearning and Einstellung :

One should be beware of overlearning i.e repeating several times topics you already know. This causes the brain to go into Einstellung, which means that brain refuses to explore new neural patterns and becomes rigid to ones we already know very well.

Week 3 :

Habits are energy saver mode of our brains. When a habit has been formed our brain doesn’t overload itself with information and zombie mode kicks in.

Habit can be described with following parts :

  1. The Cue : Triggers that launches the zombie mode.
  2. The Routine : Habitual response in reaction to the cue.
  3. The Reward : Habits exist because we get reward.
  4. The Belief : To change habits we need to believe that we can change them.

Understanding how habits are formed and work can help us develop new good habits and get rid of the bad ones. 10 years from now everyone is going to know about your bad habits, your success is going to represent you. Now is the time to get rid of them.

Avoid Procrastination? Focus on process not the product.

Also, make your to-do list for the next day the night before. This will allow your diffuse mode to work on it while you will be sleeping.

WEEK 4 :

There is a difference in smartness of people. Smartness equals having a larger working memory.

But people with smaller working memory are scientifically proven to be more creative.

Deliberate Practice, practicing hard stuff again and again, can lift the normal brain to the realm of naturally gifted. Practicing certain neural patterns deepens the mind.

How to become a better learner?

Exercise : Exercising created new neurons in brain.

Life experiences : Gaining varying life experiences also enhances the brain.

Analogies and Metaphors : Can be used to learn and memorize effectively.

And finally ,

Virtue of less brilliant is perseverance and grit.

This course has been great for understanding how our brain works in nutshell. At least know you know how it works, you can make it work for you.

I am trying to become good at things that are way complex than what I have worked on till now. This was the reason why I took the course.

My takeaways were to practice, persevere and have patience.

I have started next course “Introduction to Algorithms by MIT”. This is a course that I always wanted to finish completely. Hopefully this time I can do that.

See you next time!


Edx : Digital Branding and Engagement Course Overview And Experience

People Respond to Effort

Lately I have been following Gary Vaynerchuck, an entrepreneur and serial investor. He also owns a social media marketing company Vayner Media. Listening to his podcasts and keynotes is an eye opener on how digital media marketing is reshaping the advertising world.

So I took a course on Edx Digital Branding and Engagement finally know the digital marketing in and out.

The course was 4 weeks long and delivers perfect contextual content.

Module 1 : 

First module covered various topics like :

  • Paid , Earned and Owned media.
  • Consumer controlled market.
  • Top consumer trends.
  • Brand Advocacy.
  • Audience multiplicity.

This module was enough to make you super excited about this field. It was full of content that you can relate to, you witness everyday on facebook, twitter etc, just naming it formally.

Module 2 : 

This module was about Content Marketing. That means examining content marketing, determining its value, content distribution strategies etc.

It showed many successful campaigns on social media as case study and its impact on company sales and publicity.

  • Content marketing strategy.
  • Branded content distribution.
  • Content publishing.
  • Investing in marketing.
  • Distribution amplification.

As Gary Vee always say “Content is the king, but context is the queen”.

Module 3 : 

This module was on Owned Media Assets.

  • Owned media decision making.
  • Websites, Landing pages, Microsites etc.
  • SEO strategies.
  • Branded Application for mobile.
  • Gamification and Adver Games.

Module 4 : 

Most vital component of digital marketing is Earned Media. That means all the brand advocates, customer relations you create via marketing and delivering value.

  • Bottom up marketing.
  • Earned media amplification.
  • Social techno-graphic ladder.
  • Participation branding.
  • Crowed sourcing.
  • Shaping earned media.

99% of people don’t market in the year we live in.

Soon I will start working on my product based start-up that is in stealth mode right now, what I think would be a new way to consume content.

In this start-up bubble age when every one is looking to start their own company, marketing and reaching your consumer is the key. And best platform for marketing is FREE!!!. 

I am very sure that all this gold mine of marketing knowledge will help.

MIT 11.133x : Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology – Week 3 Sum Up

What does it take to implement a educational technology? You have the idea that can supposedly change the world of ed tech and learning, but how to implement it?

Throughout the course, in the past 3 weeks I was constantly having my idea of creating an ed tech. With each passing week the course taught me something new which can be used to carve the idea even better.

By the end of 3 weeks I was having a very clear vision of what area of learning I have to target in my ed tech implementation, but again no technical knowledge was there on how to shape up the implementation wire-frame.

This week was about Implementation of education technology. What does it take to successfully implement an ed tech? What are the challenges and what should be done to overcome them.

I was having an idea to implement a learning management system, actually an start -up idea! So all the course material was used to carve the idea only.

Barriers in implementation : 

Course introduced the i5 framework to evaluate all the aspects associated with the implementation of ed tech.

i5 framework


The graphic above describes all the aspects of ed tech. It covers all the barriers in implementation of ed tech.

Professional Development of teachers and educators : 

Next important topic discussed in the course was professional development of the teachers and educators. After all teachers are the one who are going to use the ed tech, thus development of their attitude towards ed tech is the key factor.

Professional development is long term process and needs constant effort over a long period of time. We need to connect teachers to the ed tech world and constantly work to make their attitude constructive towards it.

Equal investment should be made both on tools of ed tech and the teacher’s development who is going to use that tool.

While implementing an ed tech we should be constantly in touch with the teachers and educators. Their feedback on prototypes is the magic potion.

On enhancement I can think of is results in schools come pretty late. It loses the context of the test which was given by the student. Making a Assessment Tool  for the school can create a lot of difference.

Goal of ed tech implementation should not be to only present the information to the student but to orchestrate a learning environment around them.

I was relating all the ideas to my ed tech start-up idea. And this was the exact next thing tackled by the course.

Ed Tech Start-Ups : 

There is great potential for start-ups in the field of ed tech. Especially for the ones working on products for school curriculum and for efficiency in school operations.

Challenges faced by the ed tech start-ups : 

Honestly this was the exact same thing going in my mind before I played this video. My reaction was “Get out of my brain!”.

  1. Lot of ed tech start-ups
  2. This creates lot of tools having scattered ideas.
  3. Lack of practical testing.

Ed tech industry is slow when it comes to giving feedback on products. But that is exactly opposite of fast paced rapid development methodology of start-up culture. This is where the problem lies.

A remedy can be to include schools in the pipeline of development cycle and give them prototypes on regular basis to get feedback.

What comes after conceptualizing your start-up idea? Entrepreneurship!

Entrepreneurship in the field of ed tech : 

There are lot of challenges here.

  1. These guys are real difficult buyers.
  2. Getting fit in school budget is tricky.
  3. Sales are seasonal.
  4. Selling at the right price is always a challenge.

Few things that can be done to make life little less miserable can be  :

  1. Blended learning should be emphasized.
  2. Understand the tech requirements.
  3. Freemium model is great to get customers and collect data.

The course also included some start-up stories of ed tech entrepreneurs. Though stories are too long to be discussed here (I am already feeling sleepy :P), but the essence can be stated pretty easily.

Make products that are easy to learn, support the pedagogical features, are easily accessible and most importantly fun to use.

Mistakes made by start-ups  : 

  1. Not understanding data privacy.
  2. Terms of service should be flexible.

Teaching is the profession without which no other profession can exist.

Throughout the course I was having the idea of how can I make education more effective using ed tech. Keeping indian scenario in mind, I will look forward to implement a LMS (Learning Management System).

To take the first steps towards it I will be working on Assessment Tool for teachers and students both.

Being a software developer I also looked for open source organizations working in the field of ed tech. I found BuilmLearn pretty impressive.  Especially the idea of making education apps for mobile. Considering india’s economy mobile can be a very good step towards implementing technology and innovation.

I will look forward to get in touch and contribute to this organization. More on this another post. (Almost falling asleep on keyboard 😛 ).

Last week of the course left. See you guys next time.



MIT 11.133x : Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology – Week 0 Sum Up


This week I started with  another MOOC by Edx “Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology”. It is a 5 weeks course going from week 0 to week 4.

So here I will blog about my experiences with the course, each week.


There was not much in the course in week 0. You can guess that by week number.

Week started with introduction to forums and edx platform and how we are supposed to proceed with the course. Course depends upon peer evaluation for grading which is a cool thing to do for a such an open topic course.

We start with giving our introduction in the forum. Which is again a great thing to begin with you can tell others what are you expecting from the course and what drives you to take the course. So that people with similar interest can come together and collaborate.

Next were some videos depicting history of educational technologies starting back from papers to PCs. It makes you think what are the ways education can be transformed into by the use of proper technologies. I am pretty sure it is all going to be softwares magic. And future is for paperless education that will be super inexpensive and resource efficient.

The 2 very interesting terms introduced were :

  1. Constructionism  : Learning is best done by creating.
  2. Constructivism : Knowledge based on genuine experiences not only based on theory.

There was a video by Sal Khan, Founder of Khan Academy

What i really liked is what Sal Khan said…
How technology can be used to make the teaching and learning ways better.Teachers can have real time dashboards to see who is stuck on what… such software suit can increase the efficiency of current educations systems by many folds.



There was no as such assignment this week. Just we were asked to write a paragraph on our encounter with educational technology and how we absorbed it.

Week 1 will start in 2 days. Very  excited for what’s coming next. 😀