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Succeed with learning
Succeed with learning

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Week 1: What is learning?


Much of the learning we do as adults happens because we want, or have, to learn something. At other times, we learn without realising it, and we may have little control over what happens.

As a child you learn about life from your parents, and maybe as a parent you also learn from watching your children and talking to other parents.

Learning through being a parent or child
Figure 1 Learning through being a parent or child

You are not an empty container that this course is going to fill with knowledge. Some courses may take this approach, but this one doesn’t. As well as introducing you to some useful information and ideas, this course will help you recognise the value of your own experiences and everyday learning.

It will also provide case studies – that is, some examples of real or imaginary people – so that you can look at the issues they face and the ways in which they may learn, before thinking about your own learning.

While studying a course, it is good practice to keep notes and to have these in a fairly ordered way. So why not start now, keeping them in a digital or a paper file? This kind of record of what you are studying, and your thoughts about it, is often known as a ‘learning journal’. Jot down your answers to the activities, ideas that particularly interest you and your thoughts along the way. Having a few headings, such as the names and numbers of the activities, will help you find them again later.

Making really useful notes – rather than a jumble of ideas – takes quite a bit of practice. Don’t worry if yours aren’t perfect to begin with; you will be given guidance and encouraged to reflect on your note-taking methods as you go along.

Watch Jonathan Hughes of The Open University introduce Week 1 and the course:

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After this week you will:

  • have started your learning journal
  • understand how you learn every day
  • have been introduced to some theories about learning
  • understand the difference between formal and informal learning
  • have thought about how you learn best.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.