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Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

Coursera · McMaster University, University of California San Diego · 32 HN points · 91 HN citations

This course gives you easy access to the invaluable learning techniques used by experts in art, music, ...

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Hacker News Comments about Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

All the comments and stories posted to Hacker News that reference this course.
Dec 28, 2018 sn9 on Ask HN: What skills to acquire in 2019?
1) If you haven't, take this MOOC:

2) Machine learning and computational neuroscience are two different fields. You really don't need to understand neuroscience to contribute meaningfully to machine learning.

You'd be much better served by studying mathematics like real/complex/functional analysis, abstract algebra, probability, etc.

3) If you've struggled with suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and depression, don't bother waiting to see a therapist. Finding a therapist should be the first thing on your list.

Dec 21, 2018 Rainymood on Ask HN: Getting over interview anxiety?
This is called choking. It is explained in the course "learning how to learn" [1] which I'm shilling for (unpaid, sadly) because the knowledge is so valuable.

The key here is that you've never performed under pressure, so you have to train yourself to perform under pressure. This way you'll get used to it and you'll be able to function normally or even excel under pressure.


Dec 16, 2018 vanderZwan on Ask HN: Help me weave in STEM topics for a children's book
On a meta-level, you could maybe look into articles and such about education itself, and see if that improves both your own writing, and maybe even weave in some insights from it:

edit: wait, the first one is about machine learning, haha. Sorry, I was looking through my bookmarks using keywords. Might still be interesting though..

Nov 30, 2018 runjake on Ask HN: What is the best online course you've ever taken?
Every time someone asks this question -- and it gets asked here a lot, several people mention Learning To Learn. I always rolled my eyes.

Then I decided to check it out.

While the production quality is out of the 1990s and it starts off pretty dry, there is a lot of great content and applicable techniques here, if you stick with it a little bit.

Nov 30, 2018 otras on Ask HN: What is the best online course you've ever taken?
From a previous comment of mine:

Barbara Oakley's Learning How To Learn class [0] was immensely helpful for understanding how brains work and how I could learn efficiently.

I made it through college with a combination of cramming and bad sleep habits, but focusing on spaced repetition, the diffuse/active modes, and sleep has made classes I've taken since feel like easy mode.


Nov 15, 2018 otras on Ask HN: What's the most useful skill you ever learned?
This is a very meta response, but the best skill I've ever learned is how to learn. Barbara Oakley's Learning How To Learn class [0] was immensely helpful for understanding how brains work and how I could learn efficiently.

I made it through college with a combination of cramming and bad sleep habits, but focusing on spaced repetition, the diffuse/active modes, and sleep has made classes I've taken since feel like easy mode.


Nov 14, 2018 otras on Ask HN: Self-taught devs, what are the best cheap resources for learning webdev?
Although it's not directly related to webdev, I highly, highly recommend the Coursera course Learning How to Learn as a starting point:

For the computer side of things, I highly recommend Harvard's CS50, which is completely free, for an introduction to computer science [0]. It has a great subreddit [1] and is a fantastic resource. MIT also offers a great pair of free introductory classes on edx. [2]

FreeCodeCamp is an interactive online program that does that exact progression (HTML/CSS => Javascript => React). Here's a link to the curriculum: . It also has a wide support system (chats, subreddit, etc), and it's also completely free. I never finished the last few projects, but the rest of it taught me a tremendous amount.

There are so many variables and so much luck involved that there is no guaranteed path, but these are two great resources to get started. These were some of the resources I used to transition from no-CS (disclaimer: with a physics degree but zero programming experience) to a programming job at a startup. I've since continued learning through online and in-person classes and joined a large tech company.

Happy to answer any questions about these resources. Given how many variables there are, I hesitate to use my own experience as an example, but I'm happy to give back and pass on any knowledge I can.




Oct 23, 2018 otras on Ask HN: In a bad spot right now in life, need advice
> I also don’t know how to study or actually learn things by the way.

I just posted this in a different thread, but it's very relevant here:

For the idea of building and improving the analytical part of your brain, I highly recommend the Coursera course Learning How to Learn by Dr. Barbara Oakley. [0] An excerpt from her Wikipedia page[1]:

After her Army duties ended, Oakley decided to challenge herself and see if her brain, more used to the study of languages, could be 'retooled' to study mathematical subjects. She chose to study engineering, in order to better understand the communications equipment she had been working with in the Army.

[0]: [1]:

Oct 22, 2018 otras on Ask HN: Is there a space in the tech scene for the not numerically-inclined?
For the idea of building and improving the analytical part of your brain, I highly recommend the Coursera course Learning How to Learn by Dr. Barbara Oakley. [0] An excerpt from her Wikipedia page[1]:

After her Army duties ended, Oakley decided to challenge herself and see if her brain, more used to the study of languages, could be 'retooled' to study mathematical subjects. She chose to study engineering, in order to better understand the communications equipment she had been working with in the Army.

[0]: [1]:

Sep 29, 2018 inetsee on Ask HN: What things have richly rewarded the time invested in mastering them?
Coursera has a course with exactly that title. The course can be found here . It is one of THE most popular courses on Coursera.
Sep 21, 2018 kossmoboleat on Becoming a Better Software Developer: A Handbook on Personal Performance
I first heard about it in the excellent learning how to learn online course:
Jul 25, 2018 mattmanser on To Remember, the Brain Must Actively Forget
I'm not the grandparent, but after doing "Learning How To Learn" course on coursera[1] (very good), I finally realised I suffer from Aphantasia, where I don't see images in my imagination.

Even though I'd tried loads of memory techniques over the years as I have a very poor memory, I'd never really understood people actually see images. I thought they meant that they were, like me, simply listing the properties the image would have in your head.

So all these techniques like "remembering the number as a picture" never worked well from me, and finally explained why all the common techniques people recommend are pretty useless. It turns out people have a huge variation on how good they are at visualising things in their minds eye, and I'm right near the bottom in terms of skill.

On the plus side it turns out that I can make images appear, having done some exercises to help it, although I didn't keep at it and it still doesn't come naturally. Most people can improve and there are very few cases of people not actually being able to do it. I also read of one man who'd had a stroke and lost his ability to picture things in his brain.

Oddly, I am very quick at generally orienteering myself in new places and picking up map layouts in games, even though I don't visualize anything in my head.


Jul 24, 2018 indigochill on The 'Over-Parenting Crisis' in School and at Home (2015)
One of Coursera's top courses is a course on learning how to learn, which is really about learning the balance of self-discipline (both how to do it and why it works). It works not just for learning, but also for time management and other things:

Don't know about online courses for things like emotional health, but I see no reason there couldn't be.

Jul 09, 2018 acconrad on Research-backed strategies for better learning
He links to this in the previous, larger post, but here is the full Coursera course which is pretty great. I took it and I got a lot out of it:

Jul 05, 2018 sihui_io on Self-Regulated Learning: Beliefs, Techniques, and Illusions [pdf]
If you are interested in the topic, you should check out the Learning How to Learn course:
Jul 01, 2018 iandanforth on A system to help you remember more of what you read
If this article is your cup of tea you might also be interested in "Learning How to Learn" a Coursera course by Barbara Oakley and Terry Sejnowsk. It boils down to a similar system but gives more background, science, and detail.

Jul 01, 2018 repsak on A system to help you remember more of what you read
I've heard some good things about

To get a quick overview try table 4 p. 45 here

I try to follow

* Distributed learning/practice

* Practice testning

* Interleaved practice

May 27, 2018 csomar on The Importance of Deep Work and the 30-Hour Method for Learning a New Skill
This is delusional. And to be honest I thought I need the same deep and in the zone kind of work/situation. Until I took this Course which is based on real science:

You can get stuff done, learn very sophisticated topics on a highly distractive environment (though you'll probably need short periods of concentrations here and there).

The trick is not to force yourself to work on something, close doors and stop calling anyone. The tricks is simple boring repetition, zooming in and out of complexity of the subject, occasionally jumping through chapters.

You can do it in multiple ways. Say you are learning Crypto. You can be reading a book at home, doing an Online course at school, reading HN related crypto topics while on transportation, coding on some lang/crypto library while on Starbucks, etc... and achieve great levels of mastery.

And boring repetition/testing is the most important here. If you are interested on why this works, check the course.

May 17, 2018 Jemmeh on Ask HN: How much time do you spend “thinking” about a hard problem each day?
Once I get that "I'm getting kinda stuck in a rut here" feeling I usually take a lap around the building. (~5 min). That's usually enough.

I also go to the gym throughout the week but I usually am focusing on the workout too much to think about coding.

Sometimes I just have to more or less sleep on it though. I work on some other part of the project and come in the next day with fresh perspective. It's probably always kinda rolling around in the back of my head to some degree.

The Learning How to Learn course(free on Coursera) talks about focused mode vs diffused mode of thinking. I think you might find topic interesting.

Apr 04, 2018 atomicnumber1 on Ask HN: What are the best MOOCs you've taken?
CS50x (Introduction to Programming) [1]: Very well structured. Excellent and very Enthusiastic Teacher & staffs. It was the most fun MOOC I took

Learning How to learn [2]: Life changing. I wish I did it sooner.

ops-class (Operating Systems) [3]: This is by far the toughest MOOC I've taken. The Assignments are really tough. Although not impossible. Just the right amount of tough, I guess. I'm currently in the last few weeks and I've really enjoyed it every bit so far.

Interesting (Not Yet Completed): Introduction to Quantum Physics (2013) [4]: My god, I just love the teacher's enthusiasm. After few lectures, I realised I need to first brush up on classical physics before moving further (which obviously was the requirement that I ignored).





Apr 03, 2018 sonabinu on Ask HN: What are the best MOOCs you've taken?
Learning how to learn!
Apr 03, 2018 MarlonPro on Ask HN: What are the best MOOCs you've taken?
Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

Apr 03, 2018 Fnoord on Ask HN: What are the best MOOCs you've taken?
Learning How To Learn [1] by Dr. Barbara Oakley, Dr. Terrence Sejnowski available on Coursera & elsewhere.


Mar 31, 2018 nopinsight on Technological Change and Obsolete Skills: Evidence from Men’s Pro Tennis (2017) [pdf]
Since upcoming changes in skill requirements for good jobs could be more rapid than in the past, we need to teach many more people how to learn faster and better.

I wonder if there are startups or programs from institution with a focus on this. I am aware of a popular course "Learning How to Learn" on Coursera. But it seems like an app that interactively helps people to apply this sort of lessons on a concrete set of materials (e.g. Finance, Cardiology, Microprocessor Design, Software Design, etc.) would be even more useful.

Mar 25, 2018 indigochill on How to Fall Asleep in Two Minutes or Less
This is also mentioned in the Coursera course "Learning How to Learn" ( ). Though I don't recall/know what their source is. "Dali Sleep Technique" turns up many hits in your favorite web browser, however.
Mar 25, 2018 crawfordcomeaux on The Bitter Truth of Learning: It’s Tough, Unpleasant, and Often Pointless
If I'm viewing learning as pointless, I'm forgetting about how learning anything is a practice in learning how to learn.

The need to learn how to learn is so important and poorly taught in society. There's a great online course on the subject here:

Mar 18, 2018 otras on Ask HN: How do you learn? Is there a faster/efficient way to Learn?
Learning about how you learn can be a great first step! I highly recommend the aptly titled Coursera course “Learning How To Learn” [0] with Barbara Oakley. She also has an accompanying book “A Mind For Numbers”, which has much of the same information in it.

I’ve worked through both and found them very enjoyable and useful, and I occasionally review my notes on them (with a short quiz, of course!) to refresh my memory. I’m also pursuing further education (coincidentally also a part time masters in a field I have little academic experience in), and I’ve found that the lessons are very applicable.


Mar 07, 2018 mattmanser on The forgetting curve explains why humans struggle to memorize
If you're interested in improving your learning, I can't recommend the free course "Learning how to learn" enough:

It includes a section about this. I've also found many of the lessons applicable to other parts of my life.

Mar 01, 2018 indescions_2018 on How Do We Learn?
The "Learning How To Learn" course is also one of the most popular MOOCs

Learning at scale via MOOCs seems to be enormously effective. EdX alone issued 250K certificates for 2.5M registered users. Mostly in CS.

I'd be interested to see YC Startup Schools own results as well. Do at least 10% of Startup School 2017 grads go on to full time work on their companies?

Mar 01, 2018 et15 on How Do We Learn?
I took a Coursera course titled Learning How to Learn[0] and found it really helpful as an intro class to this "field". It was also very practical.


Feb 26, 2018 tyagis on Ask HN: I'm writing a book about white-collar drug use, including tech sector

I found this useful too

Feb 20, 2018 et-al on Peace and quiet is all about the noise in your head
Thanks for sharing something so intimate.

With regards to the Learning How to Learn, is it this course on Coursera?

Feb 16, 2018 wainstead on The Benjamin Franklin method for learning more from programming books
For similar content in video lecture form, "Learning How To Learn" covers the same topics, and is free from Coursera:

It's taught by Barbara Oakley, and the content of her book "A Mind For Numbers" is complementary to "Make It Stick."

Feb 13, 2018 ivdivd0 on A surprisingly potent technique can boost short and long-term recall
This and some other tricks are covered in the "Learning How to Learn" course on coursera ( ).
Nov 20, 2017 Fnoord on People Who Speed-Listen to Podcasts
Perhaps I am biased because although my English is quite decent it isn't my native tongue.

I'm not sure if we're discussing the same thing here. I am talking about learning .

Yes, there's also a lot of people who believe speed reading allows them to read quicker. Sure, it might seem that way, but does the information stick? Do you think anecdotal evidence to test if information was learned counts as evidence?

Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski didn't mention your proposed learning method in their Learning How to Learn course [1]. They also debunked speed reading in that course. If your proposed learning method works well, they should incorporate it in their course. However, it seems to go against the principles of chunking and overlearning.


Nov 15, 2017 arun_dev on Ask HN: What are you learning right now?
Right Now I'm Learning How to Learn by
Nov 07, 2017 hugja on What can a 25 year old do today to grow exponentially in 5 years?
Any books or other resources you recommend to learn these things? On learning to learn I have enjoyed A Mind for Numbers[1] by Barbra Oakley with Coursera course[2], Make it Stick[3] by Peter C. Brown, and How We Learn[4] by Benedict Carey.





Nov 05, 2017 lyricat on Ask HN: How do you manage multiple learning projects?
I used to enrol this course on Coursera. It called Learning How to Learn. It would be helpful for you.
Sep 06, 2017 Jemmeh on How to Recognize Burnout Before You’re Burned Out
I think there are a lot of different reasons someone might feel that way, but for me learning about proper studying techniques helped a lot. I'm fine with people having high expectations of me, I think it's when I feel that I can't live up to them that there's pressure that others will "shrug" off as if it's easy. With real tangible study techniques and not just vague general cleverness I feel like I can meet those challenges head on, like I have an actual plan to stand on. The Learning How To Learn course is a good start on this, but I've found a lot of different things on youtube.

Another thing was I felt like people were shrugging off my hard work because I made it look easy and there's 3 things for that -- A.) realize people are focused on their own life, they aren't going to understand everything going on in yours and B.) Stop being silent about your hard work. Even if it's just to some of your close friends, having some people realize you work hard too is nice. C.) Talk to people (like here on HN) with the same problem as you. I'm in some entrepreneur groups on Facebook and it is SO nice to have like minded people with similar problems to talk to or read about.

Aug 09, 2017 Fnoord on How to Determine If Candidates Will Thrive in a Remote Work Environment
There's actually scientific support for that theory. You gave an example of 'diffused mode' [1] of thinking as opposed to the 'focused mode' of thinking.

Neither is necessarily 'better'; both have their place in our daily lives. The 'diffused mode' regularly doesn't get the credit it deserves as people (e.g. educational systems) are hammering too much on the 'focused mode'.

If you are interested in learning how to use the 'diffused mode', more things related to learning, and optimizing the way you learn I can recommend the free course on Coursera called Learning How To Learn by Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski.



Jun 26, 2017 GregBuchholz on Ask HN: What's your process for learning?
You might like:

Jun 04, 2017 afarrell on Ask HN: Books you wish you had read earlier?
> learning how to learn

Look at the writings of Dr. Barbara Oakley or at .

Jun 01, 2017 _e on Older Adults Learning Programming: Motivations and Frustrations
I think most people are in the same boat as you in terms of learning. I think "bluffing your way" through classes or interviews only sets one up for failure later. Learning the basics might be boring but one will find trouble getting to the fun stuff without a strong foundation in the concept.

You would really like the course, "Learning How to Learn" on Coursera [0]. The instructor wrote the book, "Mind for Numbers" [1] which is also great.

The course and book teach a great framework for actually learning and comprehension.



May 03, 2017 jmstfv on Ask HN: Do you have a routine that helps you learn new things better?
Refer to this online course for advice on how to learn better:
Apr 29, 2017 gordon_freeman on Ask HN: How do you keep improving?
Just an FYI: there is a great Coursera MOOC on learning how to learn:

Simply awesome.

Apr 26, 2017 asciimo on Notes on 'The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World'
Many of these subjects are discussed in the popular Learning How To Learn online course [ ]. I finally signed up for it and I'm grateful. Sure, we all know how to learn, otherwise we wouldn't be here. This course provides practical techniques for learning more information, better, and with greater durability. Plus science!
Apr 20, 2017 danieljohnson on How to Remember More of What You Learn with Spaced Repetition (2016)
If this interests you and you want to dive deeper into how you learn, I am enjoying this coursera course and highly recommend it:

Apr 17, 2017 Yabood on Brains Sweep Themselves Clean of Toxins During Sleep (2013)
I learned about this from the Learning how to learn class on Coursera. Can't recommend it enough.
Apr 17, 2017 elorm on Ask HN: Productivity tips/sources/literature?
The only resource I'd recommend is Learning How To Learn by Barbara Oakley

It also has a companion book.(Book came first anyway). It's well researched and has many tricks on boosting productivity e.g Pomodoro technique.

Apr 14, 2017 JabavuAdams on No bullshit guide to linear algebra – v2
Start with Strang's MIT OCW Linear Algebra course:

You really only need to know arithmetic to get started.

Use Anki to create flash-cards so that you learn faster and don't forget.

Also, manual calculation is fundamentally how you learn mathematics. Following along is a first step, but is not good enough to learn the material. You need to do the calculations and run into problems, so you can re-create the knowledge in your brain.

EDIT> Take Coursera's Learning How to Learn Course. It sounds flaky, but will accelerate all of your other learning, and help with procrastination as well.

Apr 12, 2017 imarg on Ask HN: How much of your time at work do you spend not working?
I think procrastination time is also important and necessary.

I just completed a course on Coursera (Learning How to Learn - ). One of things mentioned is that our brain has a focused and diffused mode and both are needed for us to learn.

So, I guess, something similar happens when we are working. You need both focus time but also a down time to achieve things. Of course, too much procrastination is also not a good thing.

Mar 29, 2017 roshan_arhsim on What is one awesome online course that every HN reader should take?
Learning how to learn

Mar 21, 2017 rimliu on A hot bath has benefits similar to exercise
Making breaks actually helps learning. I may start to sound like a broken record, but take a look at this: It's easy to follow, and helps to understand how learning works, what helps it and what hinders it.
Mar 20, 2017 Tepix on How to Learn New Things as an Adult
Recommended free MOOC: "Learning how to learn"

They put some interesting brain research into that course. I started last week and love it so far.

Mar 20, 2017 rimliu on How to Learn New Things as an Adult
See already recommended course Without small building blocks comfortably sitting in your brain there will be no larger ideas to focus on.
Mar 20, 2017 personjerry on How to Learn New Things as an Adult
This article seems to be an advertisement so I don't have a positive disposition towards it.

There's this free online course: which I think might be preferable to the book in the article, since it has transcribed video that you can speed up, exercises, and quizzes.

Feb 24, 2017 vldx on “A state of flow can be achieved by deep work”
The concept of chunking is covered in Learning How To Learn. I think the provide references as well.

Feb 18, 2017 Rainymood on I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math (2014)
Can highly recommend the book the Coursera course is based on [1]: A mind for numbers [2]. Have read it multiple times back to from and front to back.



Feb 18, 2017 theyoungestgun on I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math (2014)
This is mentioned in her bio at the end, but worth noting here, I think: Barbara runs a coursera course on learning how to learn ( ).

It is interesting in that I find that Coursera courses highlight the flawed learning processes she mentions quite well. I often find myself watching the videos, thinking I get it, buzzing through the usually basic follow-up questions, and moving on. Likely that material won't last in my brain for very long in a quickly usable fashion.

Jan 28, 2017 bootload on Why Your Best Thinking Is in the Shower (2014)
The science underpinning the idea of learning, memory, recall and is based/described in neuroscience at at cellular level. So you can read papers. The coursework is really at a more abstracted level describing the processes as a model based on cited research. This is a high level course to improve learning, not STEM as such. Still very useful.

Chunking is described in more detail at Week2 and books:

Jan 28, 2017 bootload on Why Your Best Thinking Is in the Shower (2014)
When you learn things, you do so in a focused mode using working memory. Working memory can be thought of as a re-wipeable white/black board. The information,skill,idea is called a CHUNK and is encoded into a weak neural loop . You strengthen loose understanding through practice and repetition.

A chunk has no context. Context is how a chunk fits into the big picture of what you already know. At a neural level, context means neurons are making new connections. Think of a chunk as the WHAT. The context as HOW you use the chunk you are learning.

For a learned chunk to be useful, you need to know HOW a chunk is useful. You need to know the CONTEXT. Context is knowing the HOW and WHEN to use what you have learned. If you change from focused learning to relaxation, you can let your un-focused mind create these connections. [0]

By letting the brain drift into diffuse mode (unfocused attention), you are making connections between chunks, creating context. The brain is doing this at a lower level of conscience by sleeping or relaxing or changing focus. You use a bath, Darwin had his ^thinking path^ for the same reasons. [1],[2]




[2] "Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects" ~

Jan 24, 2017 yawz on A story of a designer learning math
Although not directly about Maths, her online course (MOOC) "Learning How To Learn" is also a great resource.


Jan 23, 2017 delinhabit on Ask HN: What inspires you to persevere through adversity?
Reading through what you said, it reminded me about how the Learning how to Learn Course [1] tackles procrastination. Basically the way I understood it (hopefully I did it right), if you focus on the product (ie. the final goal), our brain activates the pain sensors which make us look for other activities that will be more fun to do. The suggestion is to focus on the process (or system) that will eventually get you to the goal, using small periods of focused attention that can be individually rewarded (like spending some time doing relaxing and/or fun activities after focusing on the task).


Jan 19, 2017 medell on Ask HN: What are you learning?
Learning How to Learn, one of Coursera's most popular courses (and free!).
Jan 16, 2017 Fnoord on Established education providers v new contenders
Learning How To Learn by Barbara Oakly on Coursera It teaches you fundamentals of how the brain works, and how to improve your learning. It is free. Those three factors make it a great first course.

Cryptography I by Dan Boneh on Coursera I actually can't recommend it to everyone because I didn't complete it and I just wasn't intelligent enough on the material to complete it. This requires one to be good with advanced maths, and I got migraine issues from this (same as with advanced maths in my youth). However it is very well explained. The problem was me, not Dan Boneh's course.

Positive Psychology by Barbara Fredrickson My significant other completed this course (I have not tried it yet), and highly recommends it. Its on my list.

Securing Democracy by J. Alex Halderman I thought I was interested in this subject, and I was to some extend, but I was not enough interested to follow the course to the end. However the course as far as I took it was excellent.

Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice by Edwin Bakker I didn't complete this course either but it was interesting and good nonetheless.

There are just a few of the courses I can recommend, and it doesn't contain the one I'm currently one because I haven't completed it yet (will likely include it once completed). There's also courses I cannot recommend (it also depends on the audience). I will resort to the positive angle though wink .

One thing I got from the courses is that it is OK to not complete a course. You can regard it as time waste which is fair enough. My goal is not to get a certificate though. That's merely a byproduct. My goal is to learn (which is a process), to satisfy my taste for knowledge. However Coursera changed its terms of usage last years and ever since I used the platform less.

Jan 01, 2017 Asdfbla on Ask HN: How to learn new things better?
Maybe just throwing it out there as an additional resource: Coursera has a "learning how to learn" course, which includes lots of references about the theory of learning but many hands-on tips too. It's not too time consuming and doesn't cost anything, so probably can't hurt to look at it. I liked it and try to apply some of the ideas when learning.

Dec 29, 2016 JabavuAdams on What Does Any of This Have to Do with Physics?
It jives with what I've observed the grad students I've known going through.

I think it's important to frame oneself as a mental athlete. Olympic athletes don't exert themselves for 20 hours and then get 4 hours sleep and expect any kind of peak performance. You need sleep, you need a mix of focused effort, and unfocused consolidation / inspiration time, etc.

Programmers and students have a tendency to ignore lessons about training and peak performance that are well understood by those in physical sports.

This course changed my life:

Dec 24, 2016 Fnoord on The Memory App – Instant personalized memory recall
I can highly recommend this course, Learning How To Learn [1]. Among things it explains how memory works, how to avoid procrastination [2], and how to use several tools at your disposal in order to improve your memory. It is free, btw.



Dec 20, 2016 JabavuAdams on Backpropagation is a leaky abstraction
> Yes there is, watch someone else do it.

This is not as good. There's a lot of evidence from neuroscience that this leads to an illusion of competence. I.e. it's much easier to follow along through a sample solution than to craft a solution yourself. Until you craft the solution yourself, the knowledge won't actually be chunked as firmly in your brain.

I've seen this time and again, as a teacher, and it was mentioned explicitly in Coursera's Learning How To Learn course:

NOTE: watching someone is a good way to get started, but until you do it on your own, you haven't learned it deeply, and it may be difficult to recall in a real situation.

Dec 03, 2016 dorfsmay on Ask HN: Are there any systematic and scientific ways to develop a habit?
They touch on this in the "Learning how to learn" online course. One of the point is to learn to recognise patterns:

Oct 16, 2016 1_over_n on Ask HN: How to get started with machine learning?
IMO the best way to get started (like with anything) is by getting started. I think the way you make progress is going to come down to you personally as an individual and what your motivations are. Before learning ANYTHING new i would invest some time in learning how to learn. There is a good coursera course on this and the book by the course authors is incredibly useful for putting a framework with some techniques that can help the approach to learning any new skill. This is not meant to be condescending advice but for me personally it's changed the way i go about learning any new skill now.

I think as well it really depends where you are coming from / what your background is. The reason i say this is i have recently gone through a similar transition into machine learning 'from scratch' except once i got there i realised i knew more than i thought. My academic background is in psychology / biomedical science which involved a LOT of statistics. From my perspective once i started getting into the field i realised there are a lot of things i already knew from stats with different terms in ML. It was also quite inspiring to see many of the eminent ML guys have backgrounds in Psychology (for instance Hinton) meaning i felt perhaps a bit more of an advantage on the theoretical side that many of my programming peers don't have.

I realise most people entering the field right now have a programming background so will be coming at things from an opposite angle. For me i find understanding the vast majority of the tests and data manipulation pretty standard undergraduate stuff (using python / SK Learn is incredible because the library does so much of the heavy lifting for you!). Where i have been struggling is in things that an average programmer probably finds very basic - it took me 3 days to get my development environment set up before i could even start coding (solved by Anaconda - great tool and lessons learned). Iterating over dictionaries = an nightmare for me (at first anyway, again getting better).

I think (though i may be biased) it's easier to go from programming to ML rather than the other way around because so much of ML is contingent on having decent programming skills. If you have a decent programming skill set you can almost 'avoid' the math component in a sense due to the libraries available and support online. There are some real pluses to ML compared to traditional statistics - i.e. tests that are normally ran in stats to check you are able to apply the test (i.e. shape of the data: skewness / kurtosis, multicollinearity etc) become less of an issue as the algorythms role is to deliver an output given the input.

I would still recommend some reading into the stats side of things to get a sense of how data can be manipulated to give different results because i think this will give you a more intuitive feel for parameter tuning.

This book does not look very relevant but it's actually a really useful introduction to thinking about data and where the numbers we hear about actually come from

In conclusion if you can programme and have a good attitude towards learning and are diligent with efforts I think this should be a simple transition for you.

Sep 18, 2016 autotune on The Most Popular Online Course Teaches You to Learn (2015)
Can't believe after scrolling through that there's no link to the course in the article:

Sep 15, 2016 neves on The building blocks of understanding are memorization and repetition
Her on line course: "Learning how to learn" is the most successful MOOC of all time:

I really enjoyed following it.

Sep 15, 2016 dhawalhs on The building blocks of understanding are memorization and repetition
This article was written by Barbara Oakley who also teaches the most popular MOOC in the world and also my favourite MOOC called Learning How To Learn:

She also a upcoming book titled 'Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential':

Aug 16, 2016 manishsharan on Age differences in learning from an insufficient representation of uncertainty
There is a learning to learn course on Coursera

I strongly recommend it for engineers over 40.

Jul 29, 2016 kentt on Ask HN: What was your “why didn't I start doing this sooner” moment?
Agreed. This was a wonderful course:
Jun 19, 2016 milesf on Think Less, Think Better
The best material I've found on this subject so far is Barbera Oakley's "Learning How to Learn" course ( ) along with the companion book "A Mind For Numbers".

The two modes they refer to are focussed and diffuse, and the admission that our brains can't do both at the same time. She provides examples and techniques that, while some might find silly, are effective.

May 30, 2016 jacalata on Please don’t quit – every expert was once a beginner
This post is about how to learn, and touches on concepts that I felt were very well explained in the coursera course "Learning how to learn" ( )
May 29, 2016 brown-dragon on Ask HN: What do you want to learn in 2016?
Ha! I know how you feel! Check out "Learning how to learn?" ( ) - it's an excellent course that may help you out. (Though not with jiu-jitsu, kung-fu, and b-212 helicopter piloting I'm afraid :-)).
Mar 16, 2016 blabla_blublu on Ask HN: What's the most useful online course you have watched?
I did Creative Problem Solving through Coursera and had a great time participating in the class projects.

There are some great tools which you can use in your everyday life to think innovative solutions to problems. The exercises were incredible fun as well.

Another course which I highly recommend is Learning How To Learn

Mar 05, 2016 ocjo submitted Learning to Learn: Must take course for everyone (2 points, 0 comments)
Feb 19, 2016 jhund submitted Learning How to Learn (2 points, 0 comments)
Dec 27, 2015 brox on How the Speed of Light Was First Measured
Analogy, metaphor or just simple evocative imagery are good tools for making subject matter stick, though:
Dec 23, 2015 OldSchoolJohnny on Ask HN: 11 days off for Christmas vacation – What would you learn?
I would suggest you do something much more comprehensive and do this:

I've never taken any course that was more useful and a lot of other people feel the same way.

Dec 20, 2015 henrik_w on Best Online Courses of 2015
I took "Learning How to Learn" [1] early this year, and can recommend it. Very well presented on how to learn effectively. Most of the strategies were not new to me, put it was still good with a refresher. And it was a quick and easy course to take. I watched all the lectures on my phone while commuting to and from work.


Dec 07, 2015 mrdrozdov submitted Procrastination, Memory, and Sleep: An Interview with Terry Sejnowski [video] (27 points, 4 comments)
The questions and answers in this interview are very superficial and generic. It seems like the interview was a homework assignment...How is this on the front page?
I think the beauty of this video is that there are some simple solutions to these problems that a lot of people (myself included) don't know. Terry Sejnowski is the President of NIPS (Neural Information Processing Systems), which is a machine learning conference that is running this week.
Video was cut off after 2 minutes for me, with a message saying "You are previewing this course."
This is a new level of the click bait.
Nov 30, 2015 tertius on The problem of sleeping without sleeping
She also has a coursera course (that I'm going through right now) -
Nov 30, 2015 Yeroc on Ask HN: What's your favorite online course?
I haven't taken many online courses but my wife & I just took the course "Learning How to Learn" ( ) together and I wish this was available before I went to university. They do a great job of presenting the content and provide a lot of references for additional reading for those that have a deeper interest. It should probably be considered the pre-requisite to all other online courses!
Nov 29, 2015 sonabinu on Ask HN: What's your favorite online course? - This is the best online course I've taken. Another one I am signed up for and have already done one week of lectures (preview mode) and find very applicable is
Oct 10, 2015 gits1225 on Ask HN: Recommend online learning resources
I am currently Learning How to Learn:

I can personally recommend:

1. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, taught by Hal Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman:

2. CS50 Introduction to Computer Science, taught by David Malan:

Jul 19, 2015 duncanawoods on Ask HN: How do I stay motivated to learn?
I can recommend a coursera course that could help you. Its short and always open so doesn't require waiting for it to start:

What I like about it is that its created by a neurobiologist and an engineer so it combines understanding of brain function combined with practical methods to work around its limitations like procrastination and concentration.

I expect everyone will have a different take away but for me, it was the role of how chunking not just involved in learning but procrastination. When we approach something unstructured, the complexity can generate the type of discomfort that leads to procrastination. Seeing that chunking not only helps the brain remember something but helps it stay on mission has been helpful.

Jul 14, 2015 Davetron on Ask HN: Do you get impatient when learning new things?
I did a great course earlier this year on Coursera called "Learning How To Learn"

It's pretty short but covers some good strategies for learning that are backed up by current Neurobiology research.

Mar 31, 2015 Delmania on 10X Programmer and Other Software Engineering Myths
In response to the response to my first comment, a lot of what is missing from these discussions is an understanding of how the brain acquires knowledge and builds skills. I recommend as a good starting point.
Mar 25, 2015 Delmania on Ask HN: What new skills are you learning?

I have some ambitious goals, including learning management skills and data science, and I thought it wise to bootstrap this by learning about learning.

I'm going through Coursera for this: .

Mar 16, 2015 emrehan submitted Learning How to Learn (1 points, 0 comments)
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