Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 37 - July 2008 - by Phil Chambers



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Welcome to the July 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 main article in on the subject of using memory techniques for studying, plus we have the regular Mind Map tip and quote of the month.

Mind Mapping Tip of the Month

Make sure that you review your Mind Map 10 minutes after first creating it. Psychological research has shown that we forget 80% of the detail of anything we pay attention to within 24 hours. So if you leave it a day before reviewing, you are having to re-learn most of the information and will struggle to re-create all the associations. By doing the first review while the memory is still fresh, you reinforce the mental connections and the memory takes longer to decay.

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


July's Quote of the Month

"Never regard study as a duty,
but as the enviable opportunity
to learn to know the liberating
influence of beauty in the realm
of the spirit for your own personal
joy and to the profit of the
community to which your later
work belongs."

• Albert Einstein

Memory Tips for Study.

A very powerful technique, used by all top Memory competitors is the idea of a mental journey. You need to think of any journey that you know well. This could be from childhood or your hometown, your trip to work or to the shops. Each journey will have a series of locations or landmarks that you pass along the way. To memorise a series of facts, create mental pictures to symbolise each item and association them in turn with the locations.

For example if you think of the house where you grew up you might have your bedroom, the bathroom, your parents’ room, the stairs, the kitchen and the living room and garden. Each room can be a location or for more details use items within each room. Let’s say you have 7 rooms and you want to learn the electromagnetic spectrum in physics.

This is:

Gamma Rays
Visible Light (violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red)
Radio Waves

Each needs to be represented by an object:

Gamma Rays - Gammon
X-Rays – Medical x-ray pictures of bones
Ultra-Violet - Sunglasses
Visible Light (initial letter acronym – Violets in boxes give you odours rare) – picture a box of violets
Infrared – Electric fire
Microwaves – Microwave oven
Radio Waves – Portable Radio

In you bedroom imagine your bed covered in hundreds of gammon steaks. Hear them sizzling and smell the bacon aroma. Maybe see fat dripping off the bed onto the floor making it slippery. Taste one – It’s delicious.

As you look into the bathroom mirror you see an x-ray reflection of your skull. As you hold your hand up to your face you can see all the bones of the fingers.

In your parents’ room there is a giant pair of sunglasses. So big it takes up the whole room and blocks out the light from the window.

Walking down the stairs you trip over a wooden box spilling its contents of violets that fill the air with their exquisite perfume.

Unhurt you go into the kitchen. Instead of the oven there is an electric fire and you have to make toast by holding a piece of bread up to it. This takes ages!

So you give up and go into the living room. You switch on the television but to your dismay, it has been replaced by a microwave oven. Hear the whirring noise and the ping of the bell.

Going out into the garden you hear loud music coming from you next-door neighbour who has their radio turned up to maximum volume. So loud that the ground shakes.

To recall the list – Simple retrace your steps: What was in the bedroom? The bathroom? Your parents’ room, etc. Notice that I tried to make all the associations exaggerated and involving all the senses. The more involved you are mentally with the action, the stronger the memories will be. If you reviewed the story now and then tomorrow, in one week’s time, one month and three months from now it will be in long-term memory and you will know the electromagnetic spectrum forever.

If you had 20 things to remember you could use the contents of a room: Light switch, curtains, windowsill, chair, bookcase, etc. If you imagine a long walk you can remember hundreds of items. I know memory competitors who use golf courses as locations or the various locations in a favourite film. Let your imagination run free.

If you want to remember numbers you need to convert abstract numbers into concrete things that you can picture, smell, feel, hear and taste. There are various method to do this but one of the easiest it to use something called the DOMINIC System, invented by eight time World Memory Champion Dominic O’Brien. He converts numbers into letters as follows.

Mainly by position in the alphabet:

1 = A
2 = B
3 = C
4 = D
5 = E
6 = S (‘six’ s sound)
7 = G
8 = H
9 = N (‘nine’ n sound)
0 = O (same shape)

To remember a number, convert it to a series of letters in pairs and use these to give the initials of a person.

For Example:

22 = BB = Bugs Bunny

bugs bunny

63 = SC = Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell

17 = AG = Alec Guinness

Alec Guinness

89 = HN = Horatio Nelson


So how does this help? Simply imagine meeting a series of people along your journey.

If you have a need to remember a lot of numbers then you can condense the information so that more is held per location. Give each person a natural action that they might do. Bugs Bunny eats carrots. Simon Cowell pressing a buzzer or criticising a singer, Alec Guinness drinks a pint of Guinness or reads the book of records, Horatio Nelson sails a ship.

You can now take four digits at a time and use the first two to imagine a person doing an action dictated by the second pair. This is best explained with an example.

To remember 8922 imagine Horatio Nelson eating a carrot.
2289 is Bugs Bunny sailing a ship.

If you study need to remember dates simply associate a picture of the event with the number code person / action.

For example the French Revolution started in 1789.
Imagine rebels storming the Bastille while Alec Guinness sails a ship down the river Seine.

I used a variation on this technique to remember the names and election dates of all the British Prime Ministers (from Lord Robert Walpole to Gordon Brown) on a mental walk around the village where I grew up.

If you want to find out more I suggest you read ‘How to Develop a Brilliant Memory – Week by Week’ by Dominic O’Brien or book a place on one of our training coures here.

That's all for this month. Please contact me if you have any comments or questions

Best Wishes