Feature: Learning How to Learn

by Nazrai Ahmad Zabidi

According to Tony Buzan, the world authority on mind mapping and thinking skills, “Learning how to learn is life’s most important skill.” This is indeed true for most of our learners who are mostly working adults who had left school or college for years, maybe even decades. These learners are accustomed to learning in the working environment through the hands-on approach, instructions, experience and so on. A few may have never seen a computer, let alone use the Internet. Hence, returning to university may be challenging for them, especially when it comes to learning.

Assoc Prof Dr Abdul Wahab Abdul Ghani, from the Faculty of Education and Languages (FEL), believes that learners in general have no problems in learning. The fact that they enrolled in university indicates their confidence in their learning skills. However, if they intend to excel in their studies, they need to learn new skills as well as learn how to learn these skills.

There are certain skills that learners need to master such as how to access myLMS and the digital library. Dr Wahab is of the opinion that more than one tutorial should be conducted to ensure that learners truly understand these skills.

Some learners may find it difficult to accept new knowledge that they consider as irrelevant such as mathematics. Here, Dr Wahab suggests the use of multimedia techniques such as e-content. However, not all learners will respond positively to subjects that they do not like. Hence, other than teaching them the techniques of learning, the tutor must also provide motivation such as telling them about the benefits of mathematics or other technical subjects in their daily life.

Siti Farina Sheikh Mohamed from FEL concurs that mathematics is unpopular among some learners. However, OUM has introduced a number of innovations to assist learners in learning this subject. One example is the Mathematics Resource Centre (MRC). In the MRC portal, learners can access many websites related to mathematics as well as post questions to tutors. Soon, another portal on the English Language will be put up in myLMS.

Another technique is the supplemental instructor’s technique used by Richard Ng from the Perak Learning Centre. Here, learners who are strong in this subject are taught various ways to be math mentors for weak learners. In short, they learn how to learn by being instructors themselves.

Mohamad Ayub Mat Zain, the manager of the Centre for Assessment of Prior Learning, agrees with Dr Wahab. According to him, all open entry learners are required to attend a one-day Learning Skills Workshop. During this workshop, learners learn how to do assignments, take notes and use the digital library. Another vital skill is time management. Students learn how to allocate their time effectively so that they can study and juggle other aspects of life like family and work.

Mohamad Ayub strongly believes that the workshop has achieved its objective of teaching learners how to learn. Prior to this, there was no such workshop and many learners found it difficult to adapt to the university environment. As a result, many learners did not know how to use the myLMS and the digital library - some even had problems logging into myLMS. The introduction of the Learning Skills Workshop helped to reduce these problems.

In conclusion, OUM is well aware of the importance of learning how to learn. Tutors need to be aware of these facilities so that they can inform their learners. By helping the learners learn effectively, the tutors can look forward to more learner participation.

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In my opinion, tutors should regard our learners as:

Experienced in learning techniques and capable of studying on their own
Experienced in learning techniques but still need to be guided in some areas
Adults who need to relearn some concepts
New to learning techniques and need to be guided
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