Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 104 - March 2014 - by Phil Chambers

TIME TO READ: 4.5 minutes (average reader) - less than a minute (Speed Reader) - Word Count: 1,076 To learn more about Speed Reading Contact us or read my book Brilliant Speed Reading.

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Welcome to the belated (reasons in the "What I'm up to" section) March issue of The Learning Technologies Newsletter. Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

In this edition of the newsletter we have an article on a new Speed Reading App and why it may not be the panacea it purports to be plus our regular features of quote of the month, What I’m up to and Mind Map Tip.


March's Quote of the Month

"Man often becomes what he believes himself to be.
If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing,
it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it.
On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it,
I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it
even if I may not have it at the beginning."

~ Mahatma Ghandhi

More quotes here


What's Phil Up To?

Tokyo Sky Tree

I spent the beginning of the month in Japan enjoying teaching Mind Mapping and Memory with Tony Buzan. I managed to see a bit of Tokyo whist there and went up to the 450m viewing deck of the Sky Tree tower on my day off. Truly spectacular!

The World Memory calendar is kicking off for 2104 and I will be off to Rome, Wales and Algeria in the next three weeks as long as I can get my visa in time.

Life is very busy but I still have a few minutes to watch the sweet baby lambs in the fields through the window and enjoy the sunshine.


Mind Mapping Tip of the Month

If you are delivering a seminar away from your workplace, for example in a hotel, make a Mind Map of all the equipment and materials that you need. Highlight or tick off each item on the Mind Map as you pack your bags or load your car. This is much more effective than writing a linear list. The Mind Mapping process will generate more thoughts and hence a more complete and detailed list, thereby ensuring that you don’t forget any vital piece of kit. [I am working with Tony Buzan on a packing Mind Map for his long trips abroad]

For 101 Top Tips see my book here.


New Speed Reading App

There has been a lot of publicity recently over a speed reading app called Spritz that its developers claim can enable users to read at speeds of 1000 words per minute on small displays with no training and increased comprehension. So does this mean that my Speed Reading training is redundant and I will be out of business soon? Well, no actually. Spritz is a clever idea that presents individual words on the screen at a pre-determined rate with a single character highlighted at what they call the Optimal Recognition Point. It will undoubtedly help the average reader who is habituated to reading one word at a time to reach far higher speeds and I can see it working for emails and other short messages. It offers a quick fix but a better approach is to invest some time in developing yourself rather than simply plugging into a ‘crutch’ for slow readers.

There are a large number of disadvantages to ‘Spritzing’ over true Speed Reading.

1) Comprehension is greatly improved when the eye can take in meaningful groups of words. Each time the eye comes to rest on a page it can take in 4 to 6 words at a time. As Spritz displays word by word you cannot take in these groups. Presenting them faster helps but not substantially.

2) Peripheral vision accounts for 80% of our vision. Spritz takes no account of this. In fact it completely eliminates peripheral vision by forcing you to focus on a small screen. Using peripheral vision is an important principle of Speed Reading. You can take in a lot of information with peripheral vision. It gives you a preview of page structure, allows you to pick out headings and some key word before reading in sharp focus and also acts as a useful review of what you have read as your eyes sweep across and down the page.

3) Another key to efficient reading, especially technical or factual information that Spritz in aimed at, is being selective. You can skim a weighty textbook in under half an hour, Identify the important parts and then speed read those in more depth. This approach to comprehension means that you can extract the useful information without having to wade through the unimportant stuff. Spritz eliminates any intelligent assessment of a book. You have to read every single word.

4) Of course Spritz is only useable with digital content that can be accessed on your smart phone. It can’t help you read hard copy or Microsoft Word Documents that so much of the business world rely on for reports and internal documentation.

Tony Buzan explains that the world has moved through a number of different ages in history. The first civilisations were based around agriculture where the majority of the population were brought up to be farm workers. The next big step came with the industrial revolution where factory work took over as the prime occupation. Exactly 25 years ago this week the World Wide Web was invented and the age of information truly took over as the new world age. The information age gave rise to unprecedented access to data, the internet, emails and 24-7 connectedness leading to information overload and stress related illness. In the mid ‘90s a new focus emerged. Information management was surpassed in forward thinking companies. Knowledge management was the new big thing. We have now moved on and are entering the age of intelligence where we manage the source and manager of knowledge – The human brain. We apply intelligence to tackling knowledge, information, industry and agriculture. Sptirz is a prime example of an information age product that, whilst appealing, is not intelligent.

You can learn more about true speed reading from my book ‘Brilliant Speed Reading’.

Best Wishes