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Cheery Friday Greetings from Learning How to Learn! Nov 18, 2016

Cheery Friday greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

We’re big fans of Steven Johnson, and we’re already engrossed in his brand new book—Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World. We couldn’t agree more with Johnson’s observation that you’ll find the future wherever people are having the most fun. Some of our previous favorite Steven Johnson books include Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, and The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World. Johnson’s polymath views of history and society make him an author well worth following.

Free textbooks—and a browser-reader for the visually impaired

We’d like to bring to your attention a great source for peer-reviewed open textbooks, which are available in both printed and digital formats, from OpenStax College. There are all sorts of books, ranging from chemistry to physics to algebra and calculus. You can download these books and read them in a browser. There some terrific advantages to reading in a browser. For example, if a student of yours has dyslexia or has other visual impairments that might make reading difficult, he or she can easily study the pages using an extension called “Speak it!” [Hat tip, Learning How to Learn Italian Lead Cristian Artoni.]

Class Central Career Guides

Class Central’s new career guides are getting a lot of attention—if these subjects are of interest, check ‘em out!

Exercise and Memory

Here’s a nice reminder article about how exercise some four hours after learning appears to improve memory related to that learning. Learning How to Learner Mark Wideberg started a discussion forum thread in that regard. [Hat tip, Senior Mentor Linda Walker.]

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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Cheery Thanksgiving Greetings from Learning How to Learn! Nov 24, 2016

Cheery Thanksgiving greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

As you know, we’re big fans of biographies. And we’ve got an exceptional one to tout today: Cleopatra: A Life, by Stacy Schiff. Great biographies give a sense of what might have been happening behind the scenes in important times in history. While giving a sense of the person, they also give a great feel for the place and time. Read Schiff’s book and savor a trip back to the tumultuous times when the Roman and Egyptian worlds collided. Highly recommended!

Barb in Guatemala City

This week’s email is a little early, because Barb is in Guatemala City, set to speak at the Universidad Francisco Marroquín on Friday, November 25th, at 10:00 am. If you have questions, please contact Karen Maeyens at karen.maeyens@ufm.edu. The presentation is free. Please plan to attend if you’re anywhere in the area—Barb would love to meet you!

The Art of Running

As you know, there’s a wealth of research showing that exercise plays an important role in allowing us to learn and remember more easily. For those of you who enjoy running, here is an interview by our friend Jake Taylor with Malcolm Balk, author of the book Master the Art of Running: Raise Your Performance Using the Alexander Technique. Jake’s website, 5 Good Questions, is a great resource about books, most especially if you are interested in investing. (Hat tip Hrvoje Horvat.)

MOOCs of the WeekLanguage!

Our recommended specialization this week, which features exceptional teaching, is Teach English Now! Theories of Second Language Acquisition, through Coursera-Arizona State University. This course introduces you to second or foreign language theories and practices for teaching and assessing listening, speaking, and pronunciation. If language is your “thing,” enjoy! Another very popular language-related course is FutureLearn’s Understanding IELTS: Techniques for English Language Tests, created by the British Council.

Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Here’s an insightful article in the New York Times by Perri Klass, MD on why handwriting is still one of the best ways to engage your mind in the material. We here at Learning How to Learn often write by hand when we’re trying to grapple with the most difficult material. Even a few words can help “chunk” key ideas in whatever you are trying to learn.

As we’ve mentioned before, we love Palomino Blackwing Pencils for our note taking. These pencils have the most extraordinary feel of any pencil we’ve ever used. Once past the initial sharpening with a standard pencil sharpener, we use a cheap plastic Staedtler manual pencil sharpener, which we set right beside us whenever we are writing. As for the actual note taking, we tend to use either quadrille pads or Moleskine squared notebooks.

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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Cheery Friday Greetings from Learning How to Learn! Dec 2, 2016

Cheery Friday greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Books of the Week

We have a “double-header” this week of two books to recommend. The first is the unusually titled The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, by Mark Manson. We love the cover description, which notes: “Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better.” Haven’t you always wanted to figure out what you should be caring about, so you can shrug off the less important stuff? As we’ve discovered, this book helps you learn how to do that.

Our second book this week is strongly recommended by Kevin Mendez, our Learning How to Learn illustrator (and Barb’s son-in-law!). It is My Life & Work, which is the autobiography of Henry Ford. Kevin observes: “It’s incredible how far ahead of his time Henry Ford was. What we now attribute to modern Silicon Valley tech startups was often first implemented by Henry Ford. These include a myriad of approaches, such as not having job titles, going for a semi flat organization, placing emphasis on the whole user experience, and not hiring sales people based on sales commissions but instead, paying them well for customer satisfaction. Many of Elon Musk’s Tesla approaches were pre-dated by Henry Ford. I think Henry Ford is way underestimated and way understudied.”

Awesome Websites that Not Enough People Know About

Here is a great reddit list of Awesome websites that not enough people know about, with many learning-related websites. Note that the list features one of our own favorites—Class-Central!

MOOC of the Week

Here’s an outstanding new MOOC just starting from Coursera: “Intellectual Humility.” The course description is fantastic! “Faced with difficult questions people often tend to dismiss and marginalize dissent. Political and moral disagreements can be incredibly polarizing, and sometimes even dangerous. And whether it’s Christian fundamentalism, Islamic extremism, or militant atheism, religious dialogue remains tinted by arrogance, dogma, and ignorance. The world needs more people who are sensitive to reasons both for and against their beliefs, and are willing to consider the possibility that their political, religious and moral beliefs might be mistaken. The world needs more intellectual humility.”

We’re signing up for the course ourselves. (We simply can’t resist the opportunity to get a cheeky certificate that says “I am super humble!”)

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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Cheery Friday Greetings from Learning How to Learn! Dec 9, 2016

Cheery Friday greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

We have to admit that we’re fans of writer Tim Ferriss. Tim has a wonderful way of ferreting out fantastically interesting people—like Nicholas McCarthy, the only one-handed pianist to graduate from Britain’s Royal College of Music in its 130 year history. Or like Mark Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape.

Tim’s new book is Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers. Tim’s stream-of-consciousness style brings out important questions that are so obvious that sometimes we just don’t think to ask them. This book is something like a buffet—parts are fantastic, while other parts are best left on the table. But it’s all presented in a way that helps you pick and choose what’s right for you.

Another favorite Tim Ferris book of ours is The Four Hour Chef. It cuts past the usual recipe books and gives real insight into what you need to set up a good kitchen and be an efficient chef. (Oh yes, speaking of cooking, Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential (updated edition) shouldn’t be missed!)

Free e-Guide on Finding a Fulfilling Career that Does Good

“You have about 80,000 hours in your career, which makes choosing your career is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Ben Todd and his team of researchers have dedicated their careers to helping you find a career you enjoy, you’re good at, and that tackles the world’s most pressing problems.”

Here’s a career e-guide that Todd and his team have developed and made available for free to Learning How to Learners until December 12th. After that time, you can purchase the paperback on Amazon, here. This might make an interesting holiday gift for the student in your life.

Integrating Learning How to Learn into a College Class

If you are wondering how you might integrate a MOOC like Learning How to Learn into your university or college level class, wonder no further. In the paper “Developmental Math Pilot: Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Psychology Concepts, and Group Work,” authors Elyse D’nn Lovell and Denise Elakovich describe the very positive results of their work. They note: “Research findings suggest that MOOCs used in developmental math coursework can improve math success, and group work within face-to-face classrooms can increase connectivity to learning. A MOOC [Learning How to Learn] was merged with face-to-face psychology of learning group projects, and students described increased connectivity to their learning. For example, Haley exclaimed, ‘So definitely learned how to learn all over again this semester and I’m doing awesome … It’s like I’m breezing through!’”

Class Central Year in Review

Class Central is five years old, and has become the most popular search engine for online courses and MOOCs! Here’s the Year in Review for 2016, which also gives good insight into the special Class Central features that learners find most popular.

MOOC of the Week: Deciphering Secrets

We’ve got a fascinating recommendation for you this week: Coursera and the University of Colorado’s Deciphering Secrets: The Illuminated Manuscripts of Medieval Europe, co-taught by Barb’s friend Ana B. Sanchez-Prieto. As the course description notes: “Perhaps no other relic of the European Middle Ages captures our imagination more than illuminated medieval manuscripts.” This is your chance to learn more from masters of the field!

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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Cheery Friday Greetings from Learning How to Learn! Dec 16, 2016

Cheery Friday greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Books of the Week

This week, we’d like to recommend “Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics,” by Richard H. Thaler. “The creative genius who invented the field of behavioral economics is also a master storyteller and a very funny man. All these talents are on display in this wonderful book”—so wrote Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman about Thaler’s book. Kahneman himself, of course, is the author of perhaps the greatest book in psychology, Thinking, Fast and Slow. Another not-to-be-missed classic in this area is Dan Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us.

Barb’s interview on National Public Radio’s “Innovation Hub” Here’s Barb’s interview with Kara Miller on National Public Radio’s “Innovation Hub” about her struggles with math and her finding a way to teach it so that other can succeed in math, too. Don’t miss her three learning takeaways!

College Smart

In the mail, we’ve gotten notice of the new book College Smart: How to Succeed in College Using the Science of Learning, by Nicholas Soderstrom of the Bjork Labs—a fountain of outstanding educational research. College Smart will show you in clear, simple terms how you can use breakthroughs from the science of learning to study smarter in college-or for anything else, for that matter. You may wish to check this out if you’re looking for a good holiday present for the student in your life! (And don’t forget our own ever popular A Mind for Numbers, now in 11 languages!)

The surprising self-interest in being kind to strangers

Barb’s friend Amy Alkon gave a TED talk on “The surprising self-interest in being kind to strangers.” It starts slow, and ramps up to a finale that can change lives—including yours. Enjoy!

What does it feel like to do math?

Here’s an interesting discussion by Andrew Wiles, the mathematical legend who solved Fermat’s last theorem, of what it feels like to do world class mathematics. Note particularly how he describes accepting feelings of being stuck—and also the value of a less-than-perfect memory. [Hat tip: Joe Muskatel]

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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Top books selected by Learning How to Learners from 2016 Dec 30, 2016

Cheery Friday greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

2016 Book of the Year

Elon Musk, by award winning feature writer Ashlee Vance, is our recommendation for Learning How to Learn’s book of the year. We love biographies, and this one is superb—we learn of Elon Musk’s difficult childhood, and the good and bad of the razor thin path he’s walked to success in reinventing entire industries. This is a book of great inspiration about not only humanity’s future, but your own future. Read it and be inspired about what hidden talents lie within!

Top 10 “Cheery Friday” Recommended Books for 2016

We’ve been asked which books we’ve recommended this year have been the most popular. Here’s a list:

  1. Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential (look’s like Barb’s book, due out in April, is going to be a hit!)
  2. The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism
  3. Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise
  4. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
  5. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
  6. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
  7. Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
  8. Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change your Life
  9. I Forgot Something (But I Can’t Remember What it Was)
  10. How To Win Friends and Influence People

Also, if pencils counted as a book, these cool pencils would also be in the top ten: Palomino Blackwing.

Kevin’s “Cheery Friday” Website

The app by our Learning How to Learn course designer, Kevin Mendez, for “Cheery Friday” books has been very popular indeed, with a lot of requests for an additional Android app. To tide everyone over, Kevin has added a list of all our Learning How to Learn recommended books on his “Cheery Friday” website. If you have any comments or suggestions (or “attaboys!”) for Kevin, please email him directly at cheeryfriday@gmail.com. Download now—highly recommended!

A Fascinating Article: “One Skeptical Scientist’s Mindfulness Journey”

Our friend Scott Barry Kaufman, (author of Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind), has written one of the most insightful articles we’ve ever read about meditation and its tradeoffs. Scott is a skeptical kind of guy, and he approaches his real world exploration of meditation and mindfulness with a nuanced understanding of tradeoffs, as well as deep background knowledge of the underlying neuroscience. Scott refers to an important new paper on creativity and what we in Learning How to Learn loosely call “the diffuse mode”: “Mind-wandering as spontaneous thought: a dynamic framework.” As great writers do, Scott’s popular article gives us a framework to understand and appreciate the important science going on in this area—and also to understand how we can put this knowledge to use in improving our own lives.

The Strange Persistence of First Languages

One of our favorite writers, cognitive scientist Julie Sedivy, has written a beautiful article in Nautilus on the value and meaning of first languages, even if they might seem to have slipped away in the presence of other, more dominant, languages. If you like learning about languages as well as learning languages, this article is not to be missed.

That’s all for this year. Best wishes for 2017 from Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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Follow our book recommendations on the “Cheery Friday App

Cheery Friday greetings to our Learning How to Learners! Dec 23, 2016

Cheery Friday greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

A New “Cheery Friday” Book App!

We’ve gradually realized that our book recommendations are among the most popular features of our “Cheery Friday” emails. We’ve gotten a lot of requests for access to our list. Your wish is our command! Our Learning How to Learn course designer, Kevin Mendez, has created a “Cheery Friday App,” updated weekly, which shows all of the books we’ve recommended. If you have any comments or suggestions (or “attaboys!”) for Kevin, please email him directly at cheeryfriday@gmail.com. Download now—highly recommended!

Computational Aspects of Deep Learning

For those of you who are interested in deep learning from an analytical perspective, an important new book has just come out: Deep Learning, by Ian Goodfellow, Yoshua Bengio, and Aaron Courville. As Elon Musk notes: “Written by three experts in the field, Deep Learning is the only comprehensive book on the subject.” Deep Learning can be used by university students or software engineers who want to build aspects of deep learning into products or platforms. A recommended related volume is Advanced Analytics with Spark: Patterns for Learning from Data at Scale.

War and Peace and War

If you find yourself wanting to learn more about the interwoven strands of “big picture” history, you will find Peter Turchin’s War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires to be fascinating reading. Turchin offers a bold new theory about the course of world history, growing in part from the ideas of Ibn Khaldun, a North African Arab historian and one of the greatest philosophers of the Middle Ages. On a side note, Ibn Khaldun was held in such high esteem that Central Asian empire builder Tamerlane temporarily paused his attack of Damascus to meet with the famed historian. City residents lowered Ibn Khaldun over the walls in a basket so that he could give Tamerlane a series of lectures on the theory of history. (We love learning about details like this!) Ibn Khaldun’s concept of asabiya—group cohesion—does much to help us understand the common strands of empires as different as Rome, Russia, and the United States. On a side note, Turchin is doing important work with his mathematical analysis of these ideas—his work has been published in such top journals as Nature, Science, and PNAS.

Oh yes, and Turchin’s book begins with a reference to the great science fiction classic by Isaac Asimov, Foundation—one of our favorite books while growing up. (Don’t be fooled—the link says it’s book 3 of the series, but this is the book to start with.) Who couldn’t be beguiled by such an unexpected “sci-fi” start to a book on history!

Our Popular Article on How to Create a “Sticky” MOOC

We’re pleased to announce that our article “Creating a Sticky MOOC,” in the Online Learning Journal by our Mentor MaryAnne Nestor, psychologist Deb Poole, and Barb, and was the journal’s 7th most downloaded article in 2016. Way to go!

McMaster University Honors Barb

McMaster University of Hamilton, Ontario—one of the world’s top 100 universities—recently honored Barb with the designation “Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar of Global Digital Learning.” McMaster journalist Wade Hemsworth wrote an article about Barb’s recent talk on MOOC-making at McMaster—”MOOCs are Like Dating, Classes Are Like Marriage: Lessons from Teaching the World’s Largest MOOC.” (If you’d like Barb to keynote on learning for your institution or with your organization, reach out Phil at barbo8@gmail.com.)

Good Tools for Learning at Oregon State University

We’d like to bring all learners’ and teachers’ attention to the well-designed set of learning tools available at Oregon State’s Academic Success Center Learning Corner. [Hat tip, Senior Mentor and Amharic Lead Marta Pulley.]

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team Follow LHTL on Facebook | Join the private LHTL Hall of Fame group | Follow LHTL on Twitter

Follow our book recommendations on the “Cheery Friday App