Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 28 - October 2007 - by Phil Chambers


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

This month we have our regular Quote and Mind Map Tip of the month. The main article is simply answers to questions on memory that
I received recently.

October's Quote of the Month

" One who asks a question is a fool
for five minutes; one who does not
ask a question remains a fool forever. " 

~Chinese Proberb

For many more quotes click here.

Mind Map Tip of the Month

Allow a gestation period for ideas to mature in your subconscious if you are problem-solving with a Mind Map. Use a Mind Map to gather and organise the facts, define the problem and, if possible, the ideal outcome. Then switch off: have a bath, go for a long walk, sleep on it. The subconscious will be working on the problem the whole time and will alert the conscious mind when it has a solution. An idea will 'pop into your head'!


I get asked a lot of interesting questions every month so thought that I would share some of these and my answers...


I am currently reading The Study Skills Handbook.Upon completion of this book I have set myself the task of doing the cabbies' "Knowledge Of London"  this involves learning 320 routes back and forth and selected landmarks within a quarter mile radius of the start and finish of each run. Apparently it takes approximately three and a half years to learn (part time).

I am interested to see just how quick I can learn this.

Can you offer me any further tips as I'm struggling to see how Mind Maps can help me to memorize a "route" or names of roads etc


Mind Maps are not really the best technique for the kind on learning you need to do as it is really just memorisation.

I would recommend mnemonic techniques. To learn a series of road names in order (ie a route) there are two main techniques. (both of which rely on symbolism and imagination).

1) Link Systems

Take each road name and make it into an image, link these together into a chain of associations.

eg. Cromwell Road - Exhibition road - Kensington Road - Knightsbridge.

It is best to make up your own symbols, but I would think of:

Cromwell Road - Oliver Comwell
Exhibition road - a gallery
Kensington Road - Ken (Livingstone) singing 
Knightsbridge - a knight in armor on a bridge.

Suggested Images
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Knight's Bridge

Imagine Oliver Cromwell walking thorough a gallery where he encounters Ken (Livingstone) singing.
Ken is silenced by a knight who jumps off a bridge on top of him.

The images need to be odd and silly to be memorable.

2) A Route system

Take the same items and place them in locations along an already known route. (Choose somewhere totally unrelated to London as this would lead to confusion). This is the method used by professional memorisers in to commit thousands of numbers, etc. to memory in competitions.

A memory route could be around the rooms of your house. For example your living room may have a sofa, a television, a lamp and a coffee table in it. So Oliver Cromwell is sitting on your sofa, your television is in a glass exhibition case, Ken Livingstone is standing where your lamp usually is (perhaps with a lampshade on his head) singing and there is a knight standing on your coffee table. 

You can use golf courses, trips to the local shops, etc. as well as rooms of your house (obviously you need a lot of routes to remember the mass of information you need to learn).

I would recommend you read 'How to Develop a Brilliant Memory, week by week' by Dominic O'Brien.


Dear Phil

I have contacted you before and you have been of great help.

I have been struggling memorising so much information regarding the CIW Foundation Exam, which is the first part of my web training course.

I need to remember many words, acronyms, concepts and numbers related to networks, the internet and HTML..

For example, a T1 line as a bandwidth of 1.544Mbps. I decided that possibly the best way to tackle this is through breaking the numbers into blocks as used in the telephone memory system, with the decimal point being the block seperator. In this example I found the block system difficult to use so I used the word "dotted" as the seperator:

Mneumonic: "T! dotted lines really race"

Explanation: T1(1 with link) dotted (decimal point) lines (5-from Roman number for 50) really (r is last letter of four) races (4).

Of course I will need to remember whether we have Gbps or Mbps.

Also the course has downloadable lessons. These are merely audio slides with assessments built in. I was considering printing them out (may have to buy a cheap laser printer) and arrange the slides (which are mainly graphics) to build up   a Mind Map. I find the computer lessons to be awkward if you do not always have access to the computer. Would it be wiser and cheaper to sketch the salient points on index cards and then draw a mind map?

Any suggestions or comments very much appreciated


Your mnemonic will work but has two disadvantages:

1) It forms a word based mnemonic. I find there easy to forget or paraphrase. Pictures are far more memorable.

2) There is very little 'data compression' - You are using three words for a three digit number.

If I was coding 1.544 I would break it at the decimal point as you suggest but code into two pictures:

01 = s + t = SooT

544 = L + r + r = LeeReR

obviously link these with an image for T1 (and Mbps if that's necessary) into a single mental scene. This one picture will be easier to recall than a phrase.

Regarding the online lessons. I think sketching onto cards and then Mind Mapping is perhaps more work than is needed. I would Mind Map the lessons directly. (ie watch the slides on screen and Mind Map with a pad as you go.) - Perhaps watch it through a couple of times. First time getting the overall structure and main branches and the second time getting the detail. Perhaps just print out the bits that you find difficult so that you can refer back to these.

Review your Mind Maps and mnemonics regularly. The optimum is a short while after the initial study (say 10 minutes) then one day later, one week, one month and three months.

Five correctly spaced reviews should be enough to transfer the information into long term memory.

That's all for this month. If you have any comments, suggestions or would like more information about our courses please feel free to contact me.