Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 8 - January 2006 - by Phil Chambers

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Happy New Year and welcome to the January issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter.

This month as well as our regular quote of the month and Mind Mapping tip, we consider New Year's Resolutions and how you can improve your chances of keeping them. We also launch a survey aimed at giving you more of what you want in 2006.

Quote of the Month

" It's not that some people have willpower
and some don't. It's that some people are
ready to change and others are not. "

James Gordon, M.D.
leader of alternative, complementary and mind-body medicine

For many more quotes click here.

Mind Mapping Tip of the Month

Try Mind Mapping a phone call. Before making the call, draw a central image, main branches and possibly some sub-branches if there are specific things that you want to raise. These can then easily be added to during your conversation. A typical set of branches could include: a record of general points; actions to be followed up after the call by each person; good ideas; issues to flag up.

For another 100 tips on Mind Mapping see "101 Top Tips for Better Mind Maps" by Phil Chambers, available from our online shop, click here.

Resolute Resolutions

The New Year is traditionally the time when our thoughts turn to resolutions which most of us fail to keep until February. Why is it that resolutions, no matter how well intentioned, are so often broken? One reason is that they are usually phrased as a negative: "I will give up smoking, chocolate, etc". The focus of the sentence is what you're trying to give up. Whenever you remind yourself of the resolution you remind yourself of whatever you're trying to avoid. Is it any wonder with this regular focus you will be tempted to break your resolution? It is far better to phrase the resolution positively as moving towards the alternative goal. For example, "I am becoming more healthy, eating a balanced diet".

At a physiological level, the reason why it is hard to change a behaviour is that it has to be "unlearned". Whenever you have a thought or perform an action a network of brain cells 'connect' to each other carrying electrical signals. They do not literally connect but release chemicals called neurotransmitters that bridge the gaps between cells. If you repeat an action many times forming a habit or learning a skill the pathways in the brain become strengthened initially by becoming more easily triggered (Long Term Potentiation) and over longer timescales by growing new connections. The challenge to breaking a habit is to form new pathways that are stronger than those for the old behaviour which will eventually diminish through lack of reinforcement. (for more detailed explanation click here)

It is important to write your goals down (or Mind Map them) and put them in a place that you can regularly see them. Pin them up in your work area for example. This way you will be reminded of them. Also, if you have the courage, tell your friends what you have committed to. This means that you have an additional reason to stick to it. If it's a secret resolution and you break it then nobody need know that you had the intention in the first place. If you make the public commitment then you will have more at stake if you relapse into your old habit.

I am a firm believer in practising what I preach, so here is my resolution …“I am becoming more sensitive to delivering what people want". Whist I always talk through requirements and tailor my material to the needs of a particular organisation prior to delivering a course, I am mindful that this newsletter tends to follow my musings in a particular month. It would be far better to focus on what you, the reader, actually wants. You cannot change what you cannot measure so I have devised a very short survey to ask you what you want and how I can help. It only consists of 5 questions so you should be able to complete it in a couple of minutes. Please help me by clicking here...

Best of luck with whatever you choose as your resolutions.

That's all for this month. Please do take the time to complete the survey. I look forward to hearing from you.