Last month I have study a course on Coursera, it is called Learning how to learn. It is a course that teach you how to learn efficiently. I made some notes about it and share here. (I just list each view point which I think is important, but I think I can figure out better way to show next time)

Week 1 Two mode of your brain

  1. Your brain has two mode: focus mode, diffuse mode.
  2. Focus mode has tight spacing for the rubber bumpers.
  3. Diffuse mode has more widely spaced bumpers.
  4. If you need figure out a multiply problem you use your focus mode.
  5. If you go for a walk, take a shower or drift off to sleep you go into diffuse mode.
  6. Your memory is very important to learning.
  7. There are four slots in your working memory. Working memory is like a not very good blackboard.
  8. Long term memory is like a storage warehouse.
  9. If you repeat and practice enough to change working memory to long term memory.
  10. Don’t repeat many times in one day.
  11. Sleeping is very important for learning. When you sleep, it will wash away the toxins in your brain.
  12. Exercise is surprisingly valuable in helping improve both our memory and our ability of learn.

Week 2 Facts of brain

  1. Chunk can be form through: focus, understanding basic idea or concept. It will occupy one of four memory slots.
  2. Practice to help you gain mastery and a sense of the big-picture context.
  3. After reading, recall what was read can help remember material easily. I mean recall without any pages of book or hints.
  4. Change your physical environment to recall is helpful too.
  5. If you just open book or Google and answer is front of you, notice this is a illusion of competence in learning. You see the answer, that doesn’t stand for you have learned.
  6. Testing yourself is a good way to check what you learn.
  7. Don’t fill color whole page. That is, you should use your highlighting pen carefully.
  8. Make mistake is welcome, only if it won’t occur in your exam.
  9. Three neuromodulators (神经递质) are: acetylcholine (乙酰胆碱), dopamine (多巴胺), serotonin (血清素).
  10. Acetylcholine helps you build your long term memory when you focus.
  11. Dopamine can affect your decision. It will fool your brain something wonderful has just happen. But you can give yourself some award to motivate to finish something. Loss of dopamine will result in slowness, rigidity, this is called Parkinson’s disease.
  12. Serotonin will strongly affects your social life. Low serotonin will lead more risk actions.
  13. Visit to fetch more facts of brain.
  14. Building chunk can help you transfer some specific concept to other concept.
  15. Even if you need learn much concept of a chapter, you still need do your best. Because you remember first concept once, you will remember next concept easily, as same as the third and so on.
  16. You should do some exercise but don’t do it if it has been easy. This is overlearning.
  17. You can move your focus to more difficult material. This is called Deliberate Practice (刻意练习). Do you think of 10000 hours theory?
  18. If your spinball (This is a analogy of your mind) always go from same initial place, you can’t let your ball arrive more bottom where your solution is. This is Einstellung (思维定势, from German word “Mindset”).
  19. Learning new subject means learning not only the basic chunk, but also select and use different chunks. You may jump different chapters even different subject, that will lead you to new idea. This is interlearning.
  20. Law of Serendipity: Lady Luck favors the one who tries.

Week 3 Memory

  1. Chunking is related to habit. Habit can save our energy. Because when you going to zombie mode (habit), your brain won’t focus on these instead of other key information.
  2. Make a habit need 4 steps:
    1. The cue. This is trigger that launches you into zombie mode.
    2. The routine. This is what you do when you receive a cue. It is useful or harmful.
    3. The reward. You can give yourself a little pleasure after you have done the routine. Finding ways to reward good study habits is important for escaping procrastination (拖延症).
    4. The brief. You should change your bad underlying brief.
  3. Quit wasting time and if you start you will feel better.
  4. Don’t focus on product instead of process.
  5. Put your focus on 25 minutes Pomodoro, not on completing a task.
  6. There are four categories of cue, these will trigger your routine:
    1. Location
    2. Time
    3. How you feel (like smell)
    4. Reaction
  7. Choose a quiet spot and without any internet access will help you improve productive effects.
  8. Don’t use your willpower to make a habit.
  9. You need rewiring your bad habit, like your brain will feel better when you move your focus on some painless thing (YouTube, text message). The key to rewiring is to have a plan. Developing a ritual can be helpful (like putting on a study hat).
  10. You can give yourself some award:
    • an evening of mindless television
    • web surfing without guilt
  11. The belief can help you back to your good habit when you feel hard. You can go to find some classmate, friends on the internet or family to help you remember the values that, in moments of weakness.
  12. Try to write daily to-do in evening before.
  13. Mixing other tasks up with your learning seems make everything more enjoyable and prevent from you sitting too long. (like you can fill some table task after you have done a hard problem)
  14. You can write down how long the task cost to help you improve your gauging.
  15. Set a little deadline everyday at same time. Like 5 p.m.
  16. You should do the hard task in morning, this will let you take easy whole day. “Eat your frog first.
  17. We have outstanding visual memory. It can help us to form long-term memory.
  18. You can use a very memorable visual image representing one key item you want to remember. Like “Flying mule ass” == “f = ma”
  19. Repetition is important. But you don’t need repetition many times in one day instead of several days.
  20. Also you can use index card to help building long-term memory. Write a brief text or only a sign on one side, and then write more information on the other hand. Testing yourself before sleep. Extend the period if you remember well.
  21. The hippocampus (海马体) hold your long-term memory.
  22. Memory Palace Technique is a particularly powerful way to grouping things you want to remember.
  23. (Memory Palace)It can hook the things you want to remember to the fix route which is you are very familiar.
  24. You can convert English word to remember grouping things with their abbreviation.
  25. You can use some related things to remember a number. Like 11.0 is a time of 100 metre race.

Week 4 More Tips about learning

  1. Do the exercise to help building your new neurons.
  2. When you go through a hard period, you will find your knowledge has been improved greatly. To build a analogy or metaphor can help you understand concepts easily, even if it won’t suitable this at this time. You can fix it after you learning deeply. (e.g.: Think electrical as water flow. Some place/country as a funny things.)
  3. If you can remember many things, you won’t be a creative person. Vice versa.
  4. Imposter syndrome involves frequent feelings of inadequacy. That is, you know you will fail even if you pass test this time because it is luck. So you are afraid you are exposed as a fraud.
  5. You need do more exercises to make your skill better, so your brain can complete it easily and it also make more other think.
  6. Make your eyes open. When you learn a subject you can find more video and talk to other people to learn what they think about this.
  7. Find a learning team can help you learn effective. Also teammate may find your blind point.
  8. But you should quit the team if your team change to a social team like they often wandering off the topic or be later.
  9. A Test is better for your learning. It will help you focus. Here is a checklist before you prepare your test:
    1. Did you make a serious effort to understand the text?
    2. Did you work with classmates on home work problems? Or check your solutions.
    3. Did you attempt to outline every homework problem solution? Skip the hard work (calculation).
    4. Did you participate actively in home work group discussions?
    5. Did you find the answer in your teach or instructor?
    6. Did you get a reasonable night’s sleep before the test?
  10. Hard start-jump to easy. You can skim all problems after get the test paper. Start from the hard problem, but if you stuck in 1 or 2 minutes, jump to the easy one, Because the diffuse mode will help you solve the hard one.
  11. Deep (Abdominal) breathe.