By Dr. Barbara Oakley, Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar of Global Digital Learning at McMaster University
Three years ago, I was in our impromptu basement studio, staring at my husband (the man behind the camera) as we worked our way through production of the online course Learning How to Learn. I couldn’t help but wonder—Will anyone watch these videos?
I was undergoing what I call a “mindshift”—a deep change in life that occurs thanks to learning. Formerly a camera-shy novice ignorant of video production, I found myself editing, producing, and teaching (with Terrence Sejnowski, the Francis Crick Professor at the Salk Institute) what would become the world’s largest and most popular online course.
If I can do it, anyone can.
In the nearly three years since the launch of Learning How to Learn, my life and career have undergone enormous change. As a result of the course’s success, I travel the world teaching about how to learn effectively. Personally, I have witnessed Coursera’s platform explode valuable ideas into popularity.
When you build a course that is the equivalent of a “better mousetrap” and put it on Coursera, people will come! That’s not to say there isn’t a challenge with the world of online courses: learners often don’t realize how to use the rich online resources to their best advantage. They frequently fear failure when they contemplate taking on a major (sometimes even a relatively minor) learning challenge.
To help them conquer their fear, I developed a new online course—Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential. It just launched on April 10th; the reaction has been fantastic!
One of the most practically useful aspects of Mindshift is that it explores the online world, giving quick tips for finding the best online learning resources and using them most effectively. I start these explanations in my basement studio, where I walk learners through some basic online course-making magic and explain how this wizardry can help improve learning. I go on to show how a great online course production team (like my new team at McMaster University) can enhance virtually every aspect of an online course, incorporating humor and other tools that speak to learners.
In many ways, Mindshift is an enjoyable online course. It’s fun. But it is also a deep course, because it gives insight into how to make learning in general more worthwhile. You’ll find simple active exercises that allow you to better understand yourself, and help you overcome mental roadblocks. All this can help you to head down a new path, or deeper on an existing road.
If you’ve wondered whether you can really succeed in learning something new and challenging, go to Mindshift to start making it happen!
Barbara Oakley, PhD, is the Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar of Global Digital Learning at McMaster University and co-instructor (with Terrence Sejnowski, the Francis Crick Professor at the Salk Institute) of the new online course Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential (Coursera-McMaster University).2