Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 44 - February 2009 - by Phil Chambers



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

This month we have some tips to help you make more effective use of your time plus the regular Mind Map tip and quote of the month.

Mind Mapping Tip of the Month

Give your central image as much impact as possible – bright or fluorescent colours, especially yellow, gives the image a vibrancy that makes it a powerful focal point.

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

February's Quote of the Month

"It's a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up."

J.K. Rowling "The Hungarian Horntail," Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2000

More Quotes Here


Three Time-Saving Tips

In the November 2006 Newsletter, I offered three tips to make the most of your time. This month, I thought it was high time that I offered another three tips!

1) Beware of ‘weapons of mass distraction’ – Television and the Web.

It is all too easy to get sucked into wasting a great deal of time watching irrelevant TV programmes, U-Tube clips or just surfing the web. Comedian Dave Gorman tells a story that, at the age of 31, he decided it was time to ‘grow up’ and write a novel. He got his advance from the publishers and sat by his computer to start chapter one, when he received an e-mail telling him that he was a ‘googlewhack’ – This is an internet game involving finding two words that when typed into the Google search engine come up with a single page. In this case, ‘Francophile Namesakes’ in Gorman’s website. Curious about this he set about finding others and then, to win a bet, tried to meet 10 authors of googlewhacks in a chain around the world. The resulting adventure turned into a stage show and a book – Not the novel he had intended writing.

It could be said that Gorman’s eagerness to embark on his quest was a great use of creative time wasting. When faced with an unpleasant task the brain can come up with countless ways to amuse itself and avoid he job in hand. This is best avoided by having a very clear and compelling goal. If the task you are avoiding is a step on the road to that goal then focusing on the endpoint will motivate you enough to push on with it. In the words of the Nike advertising campaign created by agency Wieden and Kennedy in 1988, ‘Just Do It’!

2) Make use of ‘spare’ time with technology.

I created a rough Mind Map with my ideas for this article in a few minutes before dinner in a hotel bedroom. All I needed was a pen and paper. Mind Mapping is an excellent time saving tool. A ten minute ‘brain bloom’, breaking many of the ‘laws’ in one colour was enough for a short article. Had I taken more time I could have created enough ideas for a whole book on a single sheet of paper.

If you have a laptop and mobile phone you can run your life from almost anywhere, so you don’t have to wait until you are in the office to get on with work. Trains often have power sockets by the seats so you can work whilst on the move and numerous hotels, restaurants and other public places offer free broadband access. Every McDonald’s for example.

3) Know when you have enough information.

It is so easy nowadays to gather information that you can spend hours sifting through to find the useful nuggets. If you are not careful you can end up suffering from analysis paralysis. (avoiding action or decision making by spending too much time gathering and filtering, often irrelevant, information).

Try only reading the beginning and end of chapters in textbooks. Concentrate on headings and summaries. This will save time and will usually give you enough information. If you find the need for more detail, speed-read the relevant sections, not the whole thing cover to cover.

Try to apply these three tips in you life and work. I’d love to hear how you get on. My contact details are here.

Best Wishes