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In-depth Review: Learn Like a Pro: Science-Based Tools to Become Better at Anything

From the first video, the course is packed with information, skills, and tips to improve your learning prowess.

Course instructors: Barbara Oakley & Olav Schewe

Right from the very first video, titled Learning Means Linking, Learn Like a Pro is packed with information, skills, and tips to increase your learning prowess. And it’s backed by easy-to-understand scientific knowledge. Metaphors are used extensively throughout the course to help understanding.


This edX course is promoted as two weeks, with a commitment of one to two hours per week. I found this estimate quite accurate, finishing the whole course in one day. When I joined the course, I had free access for a few weeks. After I paid, I gained access for an unlimited time as well as access to the final 10-question graded quiz. The pass mark to receive a certificate is 60%.

My course certificate

Like other courses I have taken with edX recently, each video (and sometimes some reading) is followed by one or more quiz questions to check your knowledge. Each video page features a summary of Key Ideas as well as the opportunity to discuss the course content with pinned posts plus other threads started by learners. I have noticed other recent edX courses promoting discussion on course pages rather than having to navigate to a separate forum. Happily, this format appears to have stimulated more comments than in some older edX courses. Many threads, such as “What’s your techniques for memorizing information quickly?” and “What do you do to stop or avoid procrastinating?” have plenty of helpful responses from learners. Other threads include how to stay focused and how to stimulate the diffuse mode to aid learning. You can join topical discussions on the video pages, or navigate to the forum with the Discussion tab.

A few steps include links to interactive components. And as with other courses by Barbara Oakley, near the end of the course there is a link to write a review on Class Central.

Every aspect of the course offers great learning opportunities. The questions after each video offer feedback on your answers, whether right or wrong. This feedback takes the opportunity to reinforce key points of the video. It’s all designed to form and strengthen the learning links in your brain.


Many people involved with learning are familiar with Barbara Oakley, co-instructor of the wildly popular online course Learning How to Learn, as well as Mindshift and Learning How to Learn for Youth. For her fourth online course Oakley joins forces with Olav Schewe, author of a book about learning strategies and CEO of Educas in Norway.

Course companion book

Oakley and Schewe have also published a companion book, titled Learn Like a Pro. The book is pictured at the start of each video and mentioned during the course, but it comes across as a resource that learners are likely to find useful, rather than the grating “hard sell” favored by some authors. This is perhaps part of the reason for Oakley’s success: she produces high quality courses and books and mentions the benefits to learners.

As with other courses by Oakley, her passion for learning and helping others optimize their own learning shines through.

Major Points

While a fair part of the course revisits concepts covered in other learning courses, to me, this course came across as fresh and up-to-date, with new material. The instructors make the most of online presentation techniques, with plenty of animations and sound effects.

Retrieval practice is emphasized as a major key to learning. Techniques to boost your memory are discussed, with explanations of why they work. Learn how to avoid getting stuck in tests along with what to do if you do get stuck, plus much more in this compact course.

This is a course to revisit from time to time, to refresh a range of learning skills.

Pat Bowden Profile Image

Pat Bowden

Online learning specialist, still learning after 150+ MOOCs completed since 2012. Class Central customer support and help since 2018. I am keen to help others make the most of online learning, so I set up a website:  www.onlinelearningsuccess.org

Comments 3

  1. Sonal patel

    Thanks Par for the recommendation. I will check it out.

  2. garuba ojo fredericks

    Very impressive. will go for it.

  3. Barbara Perlik

    Achieve in your education more effectively and efficiently by completing this class as early as possible. It will help you make learning more enjoyable and effective. THIS COURSE IS EFFECTIVE AND WORTH THE INVESTMENT!


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