Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 81 - March 2012 - by Phil Chambers


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Welcome to the March 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 have news of the 2012 Brain of the Year, A new app for memory training and research on how education effects IQ and creativity.

Mind Map Tip of the Month

Have fun with visual puns. Humour is one of the best ways to make things memorable. Even puns that make you groan are memorable simply because they’re so bad! I especially enjoy visual puns of song lyrics.

March's Quote of the Month


"Creativity can solve almost any problem.
The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality,
overcomes everything.

~ George Lois - American art director, designer, and author

More quotes here



What's Phil Up To?



During March’s half term school holidays I did some individual coaching with GCSE students and I continue to work with an Adult Education college on implementing Accelerated Learning principles.


Brain of the Year 2012.

Every year, the Brain Trust registered charity makes its award of Brain of the Year. This prestigious award is made to recognise superlative mental achievements. For over a decade this award has not only honoured some highly talented individuals (e.g. Professor Stephen Hawking, Garry Kasparov, Sir Steve Redgrave) but has helped to create greater awareness of the potential for mental achievements that lies within us all. You can read more about the Trust and the Brain of the Year Award on their website here.

Prince Mohsin Ali Khan

This year the Award goes to Prince Mohsin Ali Khan of Hyderabad for his services to world peace, his tireless work for tolerance and understanding and his support of charities, particularly children’s charities.

The award will be made at an exclusive dinner on Friday 30 March 2012 at Simpson’s in the Strand (founded 1828).

The evening will also be a fundraiser for the Brain Trust’s accelerated learning and memory skills programme in schools that serve socially disadvantaged areas. In this endeavour we have the support of eight times World Memory Champion Dominic O'Brien. The Head Teacher of a secondary school in London told us, "If students who were predicted to fail their GSCEs can be helped to pass them by participation in the programme, we shall have discovered the educational philosopher’s stone, something that every secondary school in the country would want”. A leading member of the Livery Schools Link, which works closely with many schools in the inner city, commented: 'What a marvellous concept! It took my breath away, to be quite honest. A fantastic project that deserves serious support.'

Seats at the dinner and ceremony cost £150.00. Tables of 10 come at the concessionary cost of £1350.00.

The Brain Trust very much welcome your presence and please also consider making a donation. Alienation of many of our young people is one of our country's greatest ills. These youngsters have no respect for society because they think that they are excluded from it. We can show them that with a little encouragement and the use of the learning and memory techniques that we have developed, they can succeed in their studies and go on to live fulfilled lives. Even if you cannot attend, a donation would of course be most welcome. Please use the reply form on the Brain Trust Website to book your place or donate.


Education Changes how you Think

New research from the University of Oslo shows that staying on in education increases a person’s IQ.

In the mid-1050s, the Norwegian government introduced education reforms that required students to attend school until the age of 16 rather than being able to ‘drop out’ at 14. The change was phased in until universal adoption in 1972. At age 19 young men are required to undergo an IQ test prior to compulsory National Service in the military.

This gave researcher, Taryn Ann Galloway, the ability to compare IQ results with school-leaving age of 107,000 young men. The result was that students with one year of additional schooling saw an increase of 3.7 IQ points whereas those that stayed on for 2 years gained more than 7 points. According to Galloway, “They’re going from about average to well above average”. She continues, “I think it’s because you do learn general thinking skills at school and have lots of opportunity to practice them”.

This didn’t particularly surprise me as I am a firm believer that IQ is not an innate quality like the colour of your eyes that cannot change. It is a very narrow measure of a specific type of intelligence that can be improved with practice.

Interestingly, research has shown that creative thinking ability follows an opposite trend - getting worse the longer the time spent in formal education.

1,600 five-year olds were given a creativity test used by NASA to select innovative engineers and scientists, and 98% of the children scored in the ‘highly creative’ range. These same children were re-tested five years later and only 30% of the 10-year-olds were still rated ‘highly creative’. By the age of 15, just 12% of them were ranked in this category, while a mere 2% of 200,000 adults over the age 25 who had taken the same tests were still on this level. Creativity is therefore unlearned. (Unleashing the inner innovator – Stephen Shapiro)

The key point is that with the right techniques we can have the best of both worlds, regaining our innate youthful creativity and having a high IQ learned by following logical rules.

Contrary to popular belief, probably promulgated by people in creative industries with a self-interest in creating a mystique around their skills, creativity can be learned. The best way to come up with better ideas is to come up with more ideas and then sift out the good ones. If you’re panning for gold you have to discard a lot of grit and stones. Mind Maps are a great tool for generating, capturing and developing lots of ideas. (see previous newsletters)

As you start to generate ideas you’ll come up with all the obvious solutions to a problem but as these become exhausted you are able to move into new territory. Not all these new ideas will be fruitful or even possible but they should not be disregarded. Even silly ideas can sometimes produce something positive. Thinking guru Edward de Bono proposed an idea called ‘Provocation Operation’ (or PO) that allows a stupid statement to be proposed. This is followed by a thought experiment, called movement to see where it leads.

Edward de Bono

For example PO: “Cars have square wheels”. What would happen this were the case? You would get a very bumpy ride but it would be predictable. As each corner of the square dropped you would get a jolt. Being predictable it could be compensated for by adjusting the suspension of the car. Taking this a step further, what if a car could analyse road conditions and adjust the suspension accordingly? This is the basic concept behind Active Suspension, originally developed for Formula 1 by Lotus but now adopted by many motor manufacturers including Jaguar, Lexus and BMW.

Challenge your thinking. Do you habitually adopt a ‘safe’ solution to a problem, going down a well trodden path or do you sometimes explore ‘off road’ to find a possible better route to a solution?


Climb The Ladder with your Android Phone

Many of us have a fear of mental decay and memory loss but the way to defeat this problem is to exercise the brain. Keep your memory laser sharp with targeted memory exercises and give yourself a glow of satisfaction as you measure your progress.

Learn how to build your memory to a champion’s level – all at your own pace.

Memory Ladder is the only memory training app endorsed by the World Memory Sports Council which replicates all 10 disciplines of the World Memory Championships.

It is suitable for anyone interested in measuring and improving their memory whilst, with its exclusive 'Compete' mode, provides a challenge to top memory athletes.


App Advert


Memory Ladder allows you to train your memory in all 10 disciplines of the World Memory Championship:

  • Speed Numbers
  • Long Numbers
  • Binary
  • Spoken Numbers
  • Random Words
  • Historic Dates
  • Name and Faces
  • Abstract Images
  • Speed Cards
  • Long Cards

Additionally, Memory Ladder allows you to:

  • Review your mistakes after each test
  • Track your progress in each discipline
  • Fully customize each test to your liking

Try it today, and see just how high your mind can climb! Click here for more details.


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

Best Wishes