'Learning how to learn'

'Learning how to learn'

The world’s most popular online course is a general introduction to the art of learning, taught jointly by an educator and a neuroscientist. “Learning How To Learn,” which was created by Barbara Oakley, an electrical engineer, and Terry Sejnowski, a neuroscientist, has been ranked as the leading class by enrolment in a survey of the 50 largest online courses released earlier this month by the Online Course Report website.

The course is “aimed at a broad audience of learners who wanted to improve their learning performance based on what we know about how brains learn,” said Sejnowski, the director of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, USA.

With 1,192,697 students enrolled since the course was created last year, “Learning How to Learn,” which is offered by the University of California through Coursera, an online learning company which has partnered with a number of universities, has narrowly edged out the more tightly focused course, “Machine Learning,” taught by Stanford University professor Andrew Ng, which currently has 1,122,031 students enrolled.

The similar enrolment figures are striking in part because the field of machine learning has become one of the hottest university areas of study in recent years. High technology companies are competing intensely in Silicon Valley and elsewhere for newly minted data scientists. The enrolment figures indicate that massively open online courses, or MOOCs, which in 2012 emerged as a potentially disruptive force that some believed might threaten the modern educational system, are continuing to evolve and gaining broad acceptance as part of an increasingly diverse marketplace for online education.

The Achilles heel of the MOOC phenomena has been that while enrolments have been huge, the number of students who actually complete courses for credit has remained low.
That has led traditional educators to argue that the new technology would fail because students are generally less motivated to complete coursework online.

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