Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 46 - MEMORY SPECIAL ISSUE - April 2009 - by Phil Chambers


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Welcome to the April issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter, Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

This month’s newsletter is dedicated to the subject of memory. We have news from the Welsh Open Memory Championships, plus the regular Mind Map tip, quote of the month and what I’m up to. The main article looks at Memory Routes and a new resource from Google that can help.


What's Phil Up To?

Phil's Photo

I was at the Welsh Open Memory Championships last weekend (see details below) and will be going out to Poland later this month to act as World Memory Sports Council Official Observer at the Polish National Memory Championships on 25th April.

I am still running memory competitions up and down the country for the UK Schools Memory Championships.

The rest of my time is spent with initial preparations for my next Open Course in London on 16-17 May. Click here for more details.


Mind Mapping Tip of the Month

Take regular breaks to keep your recall high. We remember most from the beginning and end of any learning or working period. If you have three-hour meetings without a break, as so many companies do, you will come out having almost completely forgotten what was discussed in the middle hour. If instead you work for no more than 45 minutes in one go you will remember more and be much more productive.

For more tips see '101 Top Tips for Better Mind Maps'.


April's Quote of the Month

"Memory, the Warder of the Brain"

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Lady Macbeth, in Macbeth, act 1, sc. 7

More Quotes Here


News in Brief


Learning Technologies will be celebrating on 23rd April, not just because it is St George’s Day but because it is the 10th anniversary of incorporation of the company. We are in good shape to weather the current economic climate and are looking forward to the next 10 years!



Welsh Flag

The first Welsh Memory Championships took place on Saturday 28th March in Newport, South Wales.

The event was organised by Dai Griffiths, with admirable assistance by Level One Arbiters Dr Warren Day and Dionne Reid, Overseen by Chief Arbiter, Phil Chambers on behalf of the World Memory Sports Council.

The competition attracted an impressive international representation with competitors form Southern Ireland, Sweden and Norway as well as England and Wales.

Special congratulations go to Ben Pridmore for winning the competition and Katie Kermode for taking the Silver medal and breaking two World Records in the process (5 minute words - 109, beating Boris Konrad's previous record of 106 and breaking her own record for 5 minute Names & Faces with a score of 94). Ameel Hoque came in Bronze medal position with a very creditable score.

James Patterson, who has unofficially been known as Welsh Champion, now has the official title coming in 4th place. Newcomer, John Burrows came 6th as the second placed Welshman and Carl Griffin (who only competed in the morning) won third placed Welsh competitor.

The final results are as follows:

Ben Pridmore (England) 5985
Katie Kermode (England) 5142
Ameel Hoque (England) 3817
James Paterson (Wales) 3683
Idriz Zogaj (Sweden) 2323
John Burrows (Wales) 2312
Dagfin Hammar (Norway) 1382
Conor Muldoon (Ireland) 1186
Carl Griffin (Wales) 614 - morning only

Full results can be found here.

Plans are already underway for the 2010 event.


Google's Maps for Memory!

Google Logo
You have probably heard in the news about Google Maps’ new Street View feature, especially with the concerns over privacy. The new feature lets you to see 360 degree views of streets in various world cities that you can virtually ‘walk’ along.

What has not been reported is what a potentially great application this is for anyone interested in memory. To remember a list of items one of the most effective techniques is to create a series of physical objects, people or actions in your imagination that symbolise the data to be memorised and then position these at locations along a route that you know well.

For example, using 8 times World Memory Champion Dominic O’Brein’s system, to remember the telephone number 07708096797. Break it into pairs of digits:


Convert each digit into a letter using the following code, mainly based on position of letters in the alphabet:

1=A, 2=B, 3=C, 4=D, 5=E, 6=S, 7=G, 8=H, 9=N, 0=O


the odd seven we can us a axe (same shape as the number)

These form the initials of people:

Organ Grinder
George Orwell
Hazel O’Connor
Nancy Sinatra
Greg Norman

You then imagine meeting these people at various locations along a familiar route.

There is an Organ Grinder on your front doorstep with his monkey. As you walk down the garden path you see George Orwell (perhaps with a pig from Animal Farm under his arm), Hazel O’Connor is breaking glass outside your garden gate, etc. Obviously this works best with people you know well and can visualise easily.

You need a different route for each set of information that you want to keep. There are ways of ‘compressing data’ so that you don’t need so many locations but if you want to remember large amounts of information, for example in a memory tournament, you need a lot of routes.

The beauty of Street View is that it makes it possible to devise hundreds of walks simply sitting at your computer and review them regularly to commit them to memory. Not only can you do this without leaving home but the images remain the same each time you view them, so you can be sure of seeing the same landmarks each time, something that may not be the case in the real world.

This is a good example of how information technology integrates with learning technology to create a new and powerful tool for anyone who needs to memorise lots of information, especially for memory competitions.

That’s it for this month. Give Google Street View a try and let me know how you get on. Look out for the next newsletter at the beginning of May. My contact details are here.

Best Wishes