Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 80 - February 2012 - by Phil Chambers


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Welcome to the February 2012 issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter. Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

This month, as well as our regular quote of the month, Mind Mapping tip and what I have been up to lately, we look at the issue of over-reliance on information technology and have news of a new and exciting problem solving service.


Mind Map Tip of the Month

If you have a long quote that is relevant to a link related ideas you can write it along the line of an arrow. Use quotes only when essential. Your thinking will be much more productive if you represent ideas as single words on lines rather than as direct quotes.

February's Quote of the Month


"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."

~Steve Jobs

More quotes here



What's Phil Up To?


Millennium Cenre

I spent a very enjoyable week in Cardiff attending the ThinkBuzan Licensed Instructor Training in mid-January. I take continual professional development very seriously and, as well as revisiting may familiar topics, I gained a deeper understanding of the new developments on Structured Problem Solving developed by Chris Griffiths, CEO of ThinkBuzan.


The A-Team for the Mind.

“If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire…”

If you were watching television in the early ‘80s your will probably remember the above quote from the A-Team. But it could equally well be said about a new consultancy service called Three Brains Creative Solutions. This is a collaboration between myself, Grandmaster Raymond Keene OBE (prolific author and chess correspondent for the Times) and CJ de Mooi (Quiz player extraordinaire and panellist on the BBC TV show Eggheads). We are able to apply our collective brainpower to help individuals, corporations or government bodies solve their problems. If you have a problem, take a look here.


Digital Cold Turkey.

I must admit that I have been rather sceptical about stories of rehab clinics for individuals addicted to ‘facebook’, ‘blackberries’, iphones’ and the like. However, I have come to realise just how much I rely on the digital world by being partially deprived of it.

Last week my laptop decided to die. I took it to the Apple Store in Birmingham and they can fix it but it’ll take several days to get the parts. As a result I have been forced to go back to my old laptop that is on its last legs. The screen is broken but it still works when connected to an external monitor and I am typing this on it at present. Try as I might, I cannot get it to talk to my wireless network. So, horror of horror, no e-mail and no web. To make matters worse, my large A3 laser printer is also accessed via the network so I can only print on my small inkjet.

HM Revenue and Customs required my VAT tax return by the end of the month that had to be filed via their website and my accounting software is on the laptop in for repair! I managed to do all the calculations in Excel on the old machine. Luckily, I was able to borrow an ipad and file the return. This also enabled me to pay via my online banking and use a Gmail account to have limited email contact to the outside world. However, I am still unable to access my usual mail accounts and all my contacts are on the machine that’s in for repair.

I have also felt very deprived trying to create some materials for an upcoming course without Google Images. I have had to dig out the DVDs of my old clipart library.

It is remarkable just how much we take technology for granted and how hugely reliant we are on it. This is one of the major contributory factors to the decline in the art of memory. When every fact is available at the click of a mouse or a tap on a touch-screen and all our contact numbers are stored in our phones, what is the point of remembering anything? Of course, when the technology lets us down we are left high and dry. Another reason for using your memory is the fact that the more information you KNOW, the easier it is to synthesise new ideas, to innovate and make informed decisions. Thirdly, an active memory promotes mental fitness, wards of Alzheimer’s disease and just like the muscles of your body, the brain needs exercise. Without stimulus you end up the mental equivalent of a couch potato.

In her highly thought provoking 2003 book ‘Tomorrow’s People’, professor Susan Greenfield warns of the dangers to the mind and individuality resulting from new scientific advances: “… now we face a future of interactive and highly personalized information technology, an intrusive but invisible nanotechnology, not to mention a sophisticated and powerful biotechnology, that could all conspire together to challenge how we think, what kind of individuals we are, and even whether each of us stays an individual at all.”

Despite the need for a balance between purely mental activity and technologically mediated communication and creation, I will be delighted to get my Macbook Pro back - Even if I am greeted by hundreds of unread emails! [It was actually over 1000]

That’s it for this month. I’ll be back in touch with he next newsletter in March.

Best Wishes