Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 63 - September 2010 - by Phil Chambers


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Welcome to the September 2010 issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter. Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

This issue, we have an article on study skills for students, results of the UK Open Memory Championships plus our regular features of Mind Map Tip, quote of the month and what I’ve been up to recently.

September's Quote of the Month

"I've never let my school interfere with my education."

~ Mark Twain

More quotes here


What's Phil Up To?

Phil's Photo

Last Month, I was one of the main organisers of the ‘UK Open Memory Championships’ sponsored
by MWB Business Exchange. The competition was one of the most smoothly run and efficient events
ever. It even finished early, something unprecedented in memory competitions that often over-run. I
must congratulate my team of arbiters for their dedication and hard work that led to such a successful
two days. See more details below.

Later this month I will be travelling to Sweden to oversee the Swedish Open and to China for the
Chinese National Championships.


The UK Open Memory Championships 2010

Ben Pridmore

Congratulations to Ben Pridmore for successfully defending his title at the UK Open
Memory Championships in London. Despite not being on top form and claiming not to
have done any training for the event, Ben still won by a convincing 1,377 point margin.

The event saw competitors from 10 countries including a team from the Philippines who
travelled 6,850 miles specially to take part, a new record for a national championships.

A special commendation goes to 11-year-old Konstantin Skudler from Germany who
broke several kids’ records to take overall 7th place.


UK Open Memory Championships 2010 Final Results
Position Name Abstract Images Binary Number Names & Faces Hour Number Speed Number Historic Dates Words Hour Cards Spoken Number Speed Cards Overall Points GM Cat Country
1 Ben Pridmore 632 905 430 725 640 957 800 923 675 19 6706 A England
2 Boris Konrad 884 363 620 533 581 693 1008 231 370 46 5329 A Germany
3 Corinna Draschl 372 380 565 543 469 253 760 308 514 385 4550 A Austria
4 James Paterson 552 116 615 469 451 528 740 231 396 252 4350 A Wales
5 James Ponder 624 225 405 552 480 297 552 385 414 27 3961 A England
6 Mattias Ribbing 520 315 410 433 373 187 228 462 408 42 3379 A Sweden
7 Konstantin Skudler 620 274 330 267 347 264 80 234 377 170 2961 K Germany
8 Dave Billington 340 218 320 300 320 220 332 154 396 201 2801 A England
9 Johann Randall P. Abrina 352 176 180 250 277 231 308 192 99 374 2440 A Philippines
10 Rick de Jong 184 213 190 283 320 220 100 231 280 317 2338 A Netherlands
11 Roberto M. Racasa 0 192 280 200 213 0 68 231 210 50 1444 A Philippines
12 Enrico Attianese 60 75 100 133 53 22 200 77 242 8 971 A Italy
13 Alja Gričar 176 38 160 49 69 44 176 0 140 31 883 A Slovenia
14 Robertas Katilius 76 0 45 27 0 55 0 0 140 15 359 A Lithuania

Mind Map Tip of the Month

Connect your main branches directly to the central image. Do not leave a gap around the centre - This wastes space and disrupts the connected flow of ideas.


Back to School Tips

This week sees the return to school of children in the UK after the Summer break. September 1st is also National Teachers’ Day in Singapore, so I thought it apt to write about study skills this month…

Here are my top 5 tips for students:

1) Don’t work for more than 45 minutes without a break.
This can be a challenge in school where lessons often last longer than this. However, when doing self-directed study, you will retain far more by taking regular short breaks. The graph below shows what happens to your recall as a function of time spent studying.

Recall During Learning

Notice that you remember more from the beginning and end of a study period. If you take breaks you create more beginnings and ends and so increase your overall level of recall.

2) Drink plenty of water.
The brain is over 85% water and some studies link memory loss to dehydration. Try to stick to water rather than having excessive amounts of coffee, tea or cola that all contain caffine and certainly avoid high energy drinks like Red Bull whilst studying.

3) Take notes with Mind Maps.
Mind Mapping works in harmony with the brain and aids concentration and memory. It is a great tool for summarising lots of information on a single page helping you to make sense of everything. If your teacher or lecturer requires you to take dictation or copy notes from a white board or projector then create your own Mind Map summaries after the lesson.

4) Revise from day one.
It is physically impossible to adequately cover an entire year’s work in the week before exams. This is especially true if you have not looked at some of your notes for several months. Trying to do so leads to massive stress, panic and eventually revision becomes a damage limitation exercise. If you make Mind Map Notes (as described above) you can review an entire hour’s work in a matter of minutes. Review your Mind Maps at regular intervals as described in last month’s newsletter. The more you know, the easier it is to learn related and associated things so not only are you removing the panic in the lead up to exams but you are also making the whole learning process easier.

5) Use mnemonic techniques for lists, data, equations, language vocabulary, dates and details that you are expected to recall.
Mind Maps are best for understanding concepts but are not so good for list based information that you are just expected to learn and regurgitate in an exam. In these cases you are best using a memory technique.

A really useful memory technique is the 'route', sometimes called the method of ‘loci’. We naturally remember places that we have visited. Even if you have a poor sense of direction you can always find your way home from work, school or college without evening thinking about it. The route technique takes advantage of this fact by attaching new information to your exiting 'geographical' knowledge.

For example, say you had to remember a list of 10 key points. Think about your journey to the local shops. You will pass a number of objects along the way. As you come out of your front door, perhaps you have a path with a gate at the end. As you walk along your street you pass a pillar-box, a peculiar shaped tree, a zebra crossing, whatever. You should find it easy to think of 10 familiar objects along the way. To remember your 10 important points for the exam, simply imagine something that represents the first point and mentally place it in the first place (your path). Something representing the second point is placed in the next location (by your gate) and so on. To recall the 10 points, recreate the journey in your memory noting that objects that you placed in each location.

There are a number of additional principles that you need to apply to make the items stand out. However, with practise it becomes easy to rapidly remember almost anything.

For more detailed information on study skills read ‘The Student Survival Guide’ by Phil Chambers and Elaine Colliar or subscribe to our 52 week ‘Super Study Skills for Students’ e-book that gives you bite sized instalments each week with examples, exercises, animations, video and audio content.


That’s it for this month. Look out for the next newsletter at the beginning of October and feel free to be in touch in the meantime.

My contact details are here.

Best Wishes