Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 27 - September 2007 - by Phil Chambers

TIME TO READ: four and a half minutes (Average Reader), less than a minute (Speed Reader) - Word Count: 1,152. To learn more about Speed Reading Contact us.

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

My apologies for the lateness of this month's newsletter - Be honest, did you even miss it?! My excuse is that I was in Bahrain for the World Memory Championships at the beginning of September and have spend the past two weeks working on certificates, statistics and other follow up activities. This month we have our regular Quote and Mind Map Tip of the Month. I was recently asked to write an article on what use the 'stuff' I teach is to education - I have reproduced it here as the main part of the newsletter. I've also added links to the World Memory Championships results.

September's Quote of the Month

"The dream begins with a teacher who
believes in you, who tugs and pushes
and leads you to the next plateau,
sometimes poking you with
a sharp stick called "truth." 

~Dan Rather

American Journalist and Television News Presenter


For many more quotes click here.

Mind Map Tip of the Month

Develop a system of colour codes: This can be used in many different ways. For example, on a decision making Mind Map - everything that indicates one alternative could be in green, everything that indicates the other in red and information relating to both in blue. In Mind Mapped meeting minutes - each attendee could have their action points a different colour.


The role of teachers in the twenty fist century is greater than ever before. As I see it they have three main responsibilities, to help their students pass exams with the best possible grades, to equip them with skills that will enable them to succeed in the world of work and help them to develop well rounded personalities with a positive outlook and be an asset to society. However, with the current emphasis on testing at all stages of education, the prescriptiveness of the National Curriculum and school league tables, teachers can often find themselves in a straightjacket of teaching to the tests. This leads to higher grades but neglects the other aspects of a proper education.

Help is at hand. If time is invested in teaching thinking and highly effective study skills, this pays dividends in two ways. Firstly, it equips students with a skills set that will help them throughout their education and beyond, creating a lifelong learning culture. Secondly, it enables students to achieve top grades in less time and with much less stress. Highly effective students also have the benefit of being able to pursue extra-curricular interests whist still getting top grades.

So what are these skills and how can they be integrated in the curriculum? The most beneficial is Mind Mapping ® - A thought organisation tool developed and popularised by British psychologist Tony Buzan in the mid-seventies. It is now widely adopted in the business world and is used in many large corporations ranging from IBM to Boeing with proponents including Bill Gates and Al Gore. It is also rapidly gaining ground in the educational community. The reason for its great success is the wide range of applications and its basis of working in harmony with the way the brain naturally operates. Mind Maps can be used in any situation where thoughts need to be organised and understood. For example, essay plans, note taking in class and lectures, previewing and reviewing topics, brainstorming, group discussions, analysis, research and curriculum overviews. The most useful application in education is in exam revision. Provided that Mind Mapping is integrated into a planned, ongoing review programme it can make revision easier and even enjoyable. If students Mind Map their learning from the beginning of a course of study and review at the correct intervals (based on the psychology of remembering and forgetting) they can maintain recall and therefore avoid last minute cramming before an exam. It is so much better to go into an exam confident that you know all the material than simply hoping that the bits you know will come up.

Mind Mapping is not solely of benefit to students. It can be a great time saving tool for teaching staff. A Mind Map is a very good approach to planning a lesson or scheme of work, reducing the time needed to take notes in a staff meeting or write reports. You can also use Mind Maps for assessment purposes. Giving students a Mind Map with just the main branches filled in and asking them to complete and expand it is an effective way to test understanding. It is also far quicker to mark than an essay!

Whist there is increasing emphasis on applying knowledge, there is still a large component of assessment that is pure regurgitation of facts. In these instances mnemonic techniques can greatly increase the speed of learning. For example in language learning a major component of success is developing a large vocabulary. Simply knowing how to form strong links between a word and its meaning can enable any student to learn far more effectively. This is not just restricted to languages, in science lists such as the reactivity series of elements, the electromagnetic spectrum, and valency relating to the periodic table can quickly and easily be memorised.

As students progress from GCSEs to VI form and on to university they need to develop abilities to engage in more self-directed learning. Reading around a subject and finding their own resources. This is an area where a good grounding in study skills brings rich rewards. Speed Reading techniques to rapidly access information coupled with Mind Mapping to organise and extract relevant data followed by memory techniques to remember it. Even if students choose a vocational path they can still benefit form the ability to learn in a self reliant way.

Despite the pressures of teaching in the modern world, with the addition of some innovative learning tools, it can still be a rewarding and fulfilling. Working smarter enables you to regain the passion for your subject and inspire generations to come to achieve more than they ever believed possible.

Memory Championships News

This year saw the continuing domination of the sport by German competitors with new World Champion Gunther Karsten narrowly defeating England's Ben Pridmore.

Full details can be found here.

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.