1.2 The Course and its Viewpoints

This course is unusual. On most courses, if someone asks you what the course is about, they would be expect you to say something like “history” or “the environment.” But on this course, the answer would be more like “learning” or “change.” Another possible answer would be “it’s about me.”

However, in some important ways this course is really like any other course. This means it is good way to get back into (or prepare for further) studying. To benefit from the course you need to understand and make sense of the information that the course contains and the information you will be gathering for yourself and about yourself.

Just like any course, this information comes from different places. On Learning to Learn we are calling these different viewpoints. We think there are five different viewpoints:

  1. Your own viewpoint. By working through this course you will have lots of opportunities to think about your viewpoint. You’re certainly have a better understanding of your viewpoint and—who knows—you might even want to change it.
  2. The viewpoints of other people. Learning is not something that happens in isolation; it usually involves other people. These may be people you already know, with whom you may discuss your learning, or they may be people you have encountered through studying Learning to Learn, perhaps through the online course forum.
  3. The viewpoints offered in various theories of learning and change. Trust us on this one—they are really quite interesting!
  4. The viewpoints available from web resources focusing on the process of learning. In a our fast-changing, “high-tech” world you will find hundreds, even thousands, of different viewpoints being expressed through a massive variety of web resources. At the end of this unit you will get the opportunity to try the first Learning to Learn challenge, which involves evaluating the viewpoints expressed on the Web.
  5. The viewpoints of three real-life students: Karen, Levene, and Shehnaz.  Throughout this course you will follow their stories to offer additional perspectives on the learning process.  Their experiences show how it is possible to use learning, and are also resources to help you think about what can be achieved.

Let’s meet Karen, Levene and Shehnaz now.

Karen

Karen is a social worker with two grown children. She left high school before graduating. The image is of the actress who will be speaking Karen’s words.

Karen

Levene

Levene is a former electrical contractor who now works for a community organization delivering services to the elderly. He earned a GED. The image is of the actor who will be speaking Levene’s words.

Levene

Shehnaz

Shehnaz is a teaching and learning assistant. She left school before graduating to raise her children and care for her mother-in-law. The image is of the actress who will be speaking Shehnaz’s words.

Shehnaz

These three stories are the starting point for Learning to Learn. Each story says something about real experience in the lives of Karen, Levene, and Shehnaz. You will be finding out more about these three people as you work through the course.

One Final Viewpoint ...

You might have already realized that there is another viewpoint on the process of learning and personal change—it’s the viewpoint of the two people writing this course. In fact, we are reshaping an existing course for the Web. We thought it was a pretty good course before, but we wanted to make it even more interesting. 

Figure 1.1 Jonathan Hughes
Figure 1.1 Jonathan Hughes

I’m Jonathan Hughes. I work at The Open University in the UK and I’m really interested in getting people to see themselves as learners. I believe that every single one us is learning all the time. It’s really being a learner that makes us human, but learning can be so much more than that. I think that learning makes each and every one of us fully human. I hope that you’ll spot my viewpoint from time to time as you work on the challenges in Learning to Learn.

Figure 1.2 Leigh-Anne Perryman
Figure 1.2 Leigh-Anne Perryman

I’m Leigh-Anne Perryman and I also work at The Open University in the UK, where I teach and write courses like this one. I’m interested in finding ways in which new skills can be developed and new knowledge gained through learning on the Web. I’m also convinced that valuable learning can take place at any age and that you’re never too old to change. Recently, my own most challenging learning experiences have included developing my windsurfing skills (you’ll notice that I’ve not included a photo of me falling in) and learning how to use a new software programme for creating online courses. You’ll soon find out how well I did with that latter learning challenge because I’ve used these skills for working on Learning to Learn.

1.3 What’s in This Course?