Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 68 - February 2011 - by Phil Chambers


TIME TO READ: 5 minutes (Average Reader), less than a minute (Speed Reader) - Word Count: 1,291 To learn more about Speed Reading Contact us.

If you are not a subscriber to the newsletter click here and fill in your name and e-mail address at the top of the page.

Welcome to the February 2011 issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter. Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

This issue, we have an article on achieving your goals inspired by my car's annual service, plus the regular quote of the month, Mind Map tip and what I’ve been up to recently.

February's Quote of the Month


"We are an intelligent species
and the use of our intelligence
quite properly gives us pleasure.
In this respect the brain is like a muscle.
When it is in use we feel very good.
Understanding is joyous."

~ Carl Sagan

More quotes here


What's Phil Up To?

Phil's Photo

I am embarking on a tour of North East England next week running memory competitions for almost 400 students over four days.


Mind Map Tip of the Month

Endeavour to limit the number of branches to nine or less if you aim to use the Mind Map as a memory aid. Research has shown that you can hold 7±2 pieces of information in your short term ‘working’ memory concurrently. Any more than this and you tend to get overwhelmed with information. The Mind Map will also begin to look overly cluttered with more main branches. If, on the other hand, you just want to do a creative brainstorm or brain dump, don’t worry about the number of main branches – you can always simplify and group data together later.


Brain Maintanence

My car is at the garage being serviced today. There is nothing remarkable about that. I haven’t been having any trouble with it but, as it is a year since its last service, it makes good sense for it to be checked and have new filters, spark plugs and an oil change, etc. I don’t have the tools or time to learn how to service the car myself so I am very happy to entrust it to qualified and highly skilled mechanics. I am sure if you have a car you probably do the same thing.

I can do very minor things myself like checking the tyre pressures and topping up oil, water and screen wash but nothing more technical.

It is reasonable and sensible to have your car serviced and checked out every year. You probably have an eye test, dental check up and perhaps a medical at least once a year too, even if you feel fine. But have you ever had your thinking checked? Just as a car gets you from A to B so your thinking gets you from your goals to your achievements. Surely it is important if you are to get what you want in life to make sure your brain is in tip-top shape.

In this article I will suggest 5 things that you can do yourself, like checking tyre pressures, to keep your brain in good working order and some other things that you may want to entrust to a trained expert to help you with.

1) Question the way things are done and challenge your assumptions.

We of often make wrong assumptions that lead to wrong decisions. Examine your beliefs. Just because something has always been done a particular way, does that mean that it can’t be done better? Have conditions changed that mean that the old rules don’t apply? The more flexible you are in your thinking, the easier you take advantage of new opportunities and improve your success.

2) Read widely outside your normal range – Mainly non-fiction.

Reading a wide range of books gives your greater general knowledge, enabling you to make better, more informed decisions. It also improves your vocabulary. According to ‘The Power of Verbal Intelligence’ by Tony Buzan, “At the beginning of the 20th century, psychologists observed that there was a direct correlation between vocabulary size and strength, and life-success. In other words, the bigger and better your vocabulary and your Verbal Intelligence, the more successful and confident you will be in your life in general – in your work, in your social and personal life and in your studies”

3) Play Mind Sports, puzzles and brain-teasers.

Games such as chess, draughts and go are a great workout for the brain. Crosswords, scrabble, trivial pursuit, card games and even computer games help you to boost your focus and concentration. According to a study by Joe Verghese, a professor at Yeshiva University in New York, people who worked four or more crossword puzzles per week weren't as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease as those who did only one.

4) Consider your diet.

Make sure you get your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Remember drinks like fresh orange juice and smoothies count as one or two portions. Oily fish (including trout, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, herring, salmon and tuna) are an essential source of protein, vitamins and minerals. More importantly the fish in this group are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids. These are used by the body for a whole range of functions, chiefly in cell repair, which maintains healthy nervous and cardiovascular systems and may improve brain function. Try to cut down on red meat and fatty foods. Go for chicken or fish instead but not KFC or fish and chips! This doesn’t mean that you have to give up the foods you love. Just think about what you eat and make an effort to only eat fast food, etc in moderation.

5) Daydream regularly.

Daydreaming is an essential survival skill. Not only can it be relaxing, it enables you to come up with original solutions to problems and new ideas. Einstein famously came up with the idea of curved space whilst daydreaming of riding on a sunbeam.

To really take your thinking to the next level you need someone to help you. This could be simply attending a course or a more sustained programme of regular support meetings.

1) Learn to Mind Map.

Mind Mapping is the most useful thinking tool that I know of. It helps in planning, writing, giving presentations, creativity, exam revision, taking notes in lectures and meetings, managing your time and myriad other applications. Whist you can get the basics form a book, if you are to fully understand the power of the technique you need to attend a course or book some coaching. I am not just saying this because Learning Technologies provide such services. I truly believe in and use Mind Mapping myself on a daily basis.

2) Work with a business advisor or life coach.

Life coaches and business advisors can help you to gain a new perspective on your life or work. They can not only offer advice, but the best ones hold you accountable to implementing the necessary changes. This is not something that you can easily do alone.

3) Learn how to acquire knowledge more efficiently.

This is similar to the advice on reading widely. However, if you learn how to speed read and combine that with Mind Mapping and memory techniques you can get through your reading, learning and studies in a fraction of the normal time and, if you are sitting exams, get better grades. This is also best accomplished on a training course or though individual coaching.


That’s it for this month. Look out for the next newsletter at the beginning of March and feel free to be in touch in the meantime.

My contact details are here.

Best Wishes