barbara oakley - learning how to learn

Education 4.0 is Learning How to Learn

Learning is a lifetime process, and a rising learning curve is essential for the growth of an individual.

There is a huge shift in the way we use to learn vs how our kids are learning. We were using the notes & books 20 years back but now everything is digitised. Kids get digital education on iPad, via youtube video or experiential games. The way we are learning things might also change in future. This is the key takeaway of Education 4.0.

What is Education 4.0 ?

Education 4.0 is an approach to learn how to learn, it consists of non-traditional ways to build industry ready understanding. It is important to be ready for future workplace and hence education 4.0 is an experiential approach which is a mix of realistic and practical learning. While learning is important, what is more, important is learning how to learn.

So, how do you learn how to learn? Let us take a look at the few steps that Barbara Oakley suggests one can take to improve their process of learning.

Focused and Diffused Modes

It is certain that during the learning process there are times when you are focused, and there are times when your mind wanders. Dr. Oakley says that the unfocused part of your learning process is as essential as the focused part. Therefore, while studying or at work, it is essential to take regular breaks, think about other things, meditate and give plenty of time to both the modes.


This part is solely related to the idea of breaking larger chunks of information into smaller pieces when you want to learn into concepts. The aim here is to learn each concept in a way that every part stores in your mind like a well-known puzzle piece. Dr. Oakley suggests a step-by-step process to approach learning which starts with surveying and planning, followed by observing an example, then doing it yourself and doing it repeatedly in different contexts.

Illusions of Competence

Many things make us feel that we have learned a concept. Some such examples of illusions of competence in learning are observing a solution and contemplating that you know how to reach the solution, highlighting, underlining, among others. However, brief notes summarising the key concepts are found to be much more effective. Don’t you agree?


According to Dr. Oakley, taking a few minutes to summarise or recall what you are trying to learn helps in transferring the material from short-term memory to long-term learning. She suggests that recalling the learned information in different physical environments can help grasp it independent of any physical cues that your brain might perceive. In the words of Dr. Oakley, “research has shown that the more effort you put into recalling material, the deeper it embeds itself into your memory.”


The point to be noted here is that one should not spend too much time at a stretch on one material over and over again. This results in the law of diminishing returns, which when applied here means that after a certain point of time, the amount of information consumed is less than the amount of energy invested in consuming it. Thus, it is essential to break the information into pieces, spread it out over sessions and different modes of learning.


Once you have acquired a basic understanding of the concept you are trying to learn, you can make use of interleaving to master the concepts. This involves switching back and forth between problems that require different techniques to solidify your understanding of the concepts by learning how to apply them in different situations. It is as important to know when to apply a concept as it is to know how to apply it.

Process over Product
It sometimes happens that you keep delaying a task just because it is either difficult or boring or you simply don’t want to juggle with doing it. When procrastinating the learning of some concept or completion of some task at work, set a timeline for completing it and work on the process of achieving the output rather than the output itself. It is always beneficial to think that you will complete X task within Y time rather than thinking that you have to complete the X task.

Group Study/ Teamwork
This is a concept that everyone is well familiar with and we can all vouch for the fact that whether it is group study during school times or teamwork at the workplace, it has always proven to be beneficial. What is important to note here is that the key to achieving your goals if finding the right group so that you can see results. Discussions and brainstorming always help to learn a concept better than sitting alone and trying to crack and grasp it.

Education 4.0 = How to further learn about to way to Learn efficiently!

There are so many ways with which you can further enhance the learning process. Some of the common ways are:

  • Use of AI & technology to predict what will happen in future industries.
  • Phycological behaviour analysis to predict the real-time implementation of knowledge empowers the individual to do better.
  • Agile Learning Experience in which you research, create take ways, implement the learning and then map it with assessment results

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is learning to learn skills?
‘Learning to learn’ is the ability of an individual to pursue learning with persistence while organising one’s learning. It also includes managing time and information effectively, both individually and in groups.

What is the easiest way to memorise an exam?
Here are some study hacks to memorise an exam and improve your memory:

  • Walk before an exam
  • Speak out loud instead of merely reading
  • Reward yourself
  • Teach what you have learned
  • Draw diagrams

How can I learn something new quickly?
Here are a few steps that can help you learn anything new quickly:

  • Teach someone what you have learned
  • Divide your time and include regular breaks
  • Summarise and make notes
  • Take naps in between
  • Switch between different concepts and different physical locations

What are the 4 types of learning?
The four types of learning use the main sensory receivers and are called as VAKT –

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinesthetic
  • Tactile

Leave a Reply