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!

10 Things I want to do before I graduate.

I am almost half an engineer by this time. Two and a half year and I will be a graduate. Sounds like fun. So I guess this is the best time to reveal 10 things I want to do before I die . Oh! sorry, before I graduate.


1. Google Summer Of Code

Okay. First one should not be a surprise for computer students. Gsoc is like a dream for almost every computer engineering student. There is nothing better then this you get as a student. I am working with python and will try to get through with it into the Gsocers list.

2. Go to Goa

Now this should be obvious to every college student. The beach parties and the girls ;). Seems like fun.
I just want to get there and then declare it “The World Party!”.

3. Try to crack Codevita

If you are unfamiliar with this one. It is not your fault. It is a coding contest organized by TCS. I am not that much of a hardcore competitive coder but still this thing deserves a shot.

4. Go River rafting

River Rafting
Okay! I am really excited for this one. About half a year ago we planned this but few back logs ruined the plans :'(. . Let us see when the glory comes to me.

5. Complete the Dragon Ball series

It nothing compared to watching your favorite anime Dragon Ball and try to follow the super saiyan way of living. I have grown up watching this and want to live this awesome way my whole life. (Those good old times . I want to relive them 🙂 ).

6. Go to Sunburn

There is nothing more exciting and thrilling and electrifying and startling …( 😀 )then jumping with your hands flying in the air to the EDM of your favorite DJ.

7. Complete Data Science Specialization on Coursera

Back to study stuff. Data science and Big Data are kind off booms in the IT industry now days. There are by now 11 courses provided by coursera on the topic and I wish to complete them all.

8. Plant a Start-Up

start up
As you guessed by the previous point, I am a techie person ( at least I consider myself as one ). It sounds thrilling and fun to start your own start-up. So just shut up and start-up.

9. Go to Bangalore for an Internship

Tech internship and Bangalore. The perfect duo. Meet new and talented people and grow yourself as well. As far as I have heard it is a very fun experience.

10. Get a Girlfriend

This one is in because I was having no other thoughts in my mind and I didn’t wanted the title to look like 9 things to do…
So if you are a girl, ping me! 😉