Learning to Learn

I made a recent post in one of the course forums for the BOE course at Edinburgh Napier University. In it I mentioned the idea of teaching learners how to learn. It may sound like a simple idea but many courses do not consider the simple study skills that may be required to study at a higher level. I’ve often sat at my computer and wondered how I should be structuring my work and whether I’ve referenced correctly, used the correct tone, been critical enough … the list goes on.

I believe that if we are to truly support and motivate online and blended learners then we need to show them how to study.

Geoff Petty writes about study skills in the following way;

“These skills are not content, and so often don’t find their way on to the Scheme of Work. Yet they need teaching and they need class time! They are more difficult to learn than the content usually. So don’t just teach the easy bits (content), and leave the hard stuff (skills) for the students to work out for themselves!” (Petty, 2017)

Whilst he is writing about school and college-level learners do we not think that university and post-graduate learners require the same support?

Liverpool University have excellent practice in this area. Each online CPD learner is given access to a series of lectures demonstrating the skills needed to succeed at Masters level. This simple level of support allowed learners to easily access Electronic Performance Support Systems (in the form of on-demand lectures) as they studied.

This idea of learning how to learn is also supported by Stella Collins.

Collins argues that;

“Sharing what works with your learners helps them to be more effective and to learn better for themselves. Explaining to them that they need to review what they’ve learned, that sleeping on it will help, and giving them responsibility for learning will do more for your learners than any number of wonderfully prepared slides, detailed handouts or fantastic exercises.” (Collins, 2016)

This leads to another question, who is ultimately responsible for learning, the tutor or the learner?

Based on the two readings above I believe that the Blended and Online tutor starts off as being responsible for learning but, by the midway-point in a course, learners should become more autonomous as they have the skills to learn for themselves.

My personal experience in studying at Masters level for the first time has further instilled this belief in me. After initial struggles in Module 1 I now feel like a stronger and more independent learner in approaching Module 2, I hope this continues throughout the course!


Collins, Stella; 2016; “Neuroscience for Learning and Development”; Kogan Page

Petty, Geoff; 2017; Site last accessed 05/03/2017; http://geoffpetty.com/for-teachers/skills/


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