Saturday, April 29, 2006

UC Berkeley Courses on iTunes


If you feel you've missed out on a UC Berkeley education, don't worry. Now, you can go to iTunes and download classes. This is great, but I wonder how the people paying tuition feel. Another thought: I wonder if high school teachers could supplement homework assignments - perhaps for gifted or AP students - by having them download and take notes on some of these classes.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Things to remember about your memory

The following points outline how mood and context can affect memory:

1. Emotions drive attention, create meaning, and have their own memory pathways (LeDoux, 1994).

2. While feelings travel a circuitous, slower route throughout the body, the emotions always take the brain’s “superhighways” (Jensen, 1998).

3. Emotions drive creativity, and this is a function of the amygdala. “Removing the amygdala, however, is devastating. That destroys the capacities for creative play, imagination, key decision making, and the nuances of emotions that drive the arts, humor, imagination, love, music and altruism” (Jensen, 1998).

4. “When you experience a gut feeling, it’s because the same peptides that are released in your brain are also lining your gastrointestinal tract.” Miles Herkenham of the National Institute of Mental Health says that 98 percent of all communication within the body may be through these peptide messengers (in Pert 1997, p. 139) “This view implies a far greater role for the understanding and integration of emotions in learning” (Jensen).

5. We remember that which is most emotional. This happens because all emotional events receive preferential processing (Christianson, 1992).

6. Emotions give us a more activated and chemically stimulated brain, which helps us recall things better. The more intense the amygdala arousal, the stronger the imprint (Cahill, Prins, Weber, and McGaugh 1994) from Goleman (1995). (see information on the amygdala above)

7. Conclusion: What is the effect of all of this on memory? We remember things that are emotional and meaningful and tend to forget those things that have no attachment to emotion or meaning. Even if dry material is presented in the context of something exciting such as field trip, it is more likely that the material will be remembered.

8. Context-dependent memory means that memory gets associated to the text in which they are studied. A person’s ability to recall an item depends on the person’s ability to reproduce the list context. There is evidence that subjects have difficulty recalling items when the context changes between study and test (Anderson).

9. “Subjects can show better memory when their mental states at study and at test match” (Anderson).

10. Mood congruency refers to the fact that people find it easier to remember happy memories when happy and sad memories when sad (Anderson).

11. How can one make use of this information? If you are a student trying to remember something for a test, keep the following in mind:

  • Attach the content of the material to something personally meaningful or emotional.
  • Paraphrase material to create personal meaning of content.
  • Re-create an internal mood at test time similar to the one you had at study time.

The Space Between

Right Brain World now offers a research, writing and cyber-marketing service to innovators, inventors, educators and other creative people. Have a look.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

We interrupt this blog...

There has been a lack of "bloggage" on the site lately...but there is a reason. I'm in the middle of developing a site which will outline a new service in E-learning. Stay tuned for details.

Friday, April 21, 2006

More evidence in support of educational games

Games are good tools for getting students to use all their senses, particularly visual, auditory and kinesthetic, which makes this a good method for different types of learners. Recent evidence shows the values of bringing emotion into the learning environment. Games create a positive association with learning and “allow for the repetition and deeper processing that strengthens neural pathways” (Millis, 2003).

Excerpted from: The Global Challenge Curriculum: The Application of Chaos Theory in the Classroom, Lee Chazen, EDTE 227, Dr. Sherrie Carinci

Check out Global Challenge.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Selling the Need for Conceptual Thinkers

Not too long ago, I heard Daniel Pink in an interview on NPR. I was inspired because I thought someone was finally speaking on a topic that was hardly being addressed anywhere else. He was speaking about the need for more conceptual thinkers, and suggested that businesses would soon turn to people with M.F.A.'s as oppossed to M.B.A.'s. In his book, A Whole New Mind, he said:

"But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind - creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. These people - artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers - will now reap society's richest rewards and share its greatest joys."

I would just add one thing to this: If this is to become true, someone must devise a strategy to sell the idea. For people to believe in the power of conceptual, right-brain thinkers, someone will have to first convince school administrators, politicians and CEO's. Perhaps we should step back for a second and begin thinking of ways to sell the concept. Yes, it's a good idea, but how do we convince others of this?

Friday, April 14, 2006

What's Ahead in E-Learning

Will we get to the point where a physical public school is an outdated idea from a bygone era? Will it soon be possible to have a “cyber-learning consultant,” whose purpose is to arrange a completely electronic curriculum for students? Will there come a time when students, for whatever reason, leave the public school entirely in exchange for a digitally-based education, designed specifically for them?

Under a program like the one described above, the student’s schedule would be filled with weekly podcasts, online tests and various online readings. For students who progress well and are in need of building interpersonal skills, there is the option of an educational online game with other students across the globe. What if the student experiences trouble in his or her classes and no one is around? No problem. Visit a cyber-tutor using instant messaging AV technology.

By creating a program to fit the needs of the students, the education becomes catered or more suited to the type of intelligence the student exhibits. Problems with ADHD are no longer significant in this environment. The cyber learning consultant comes in and constructs the type of program to fit the student who is easily distracted. A typical classroom with 30 other students and dozens of triggers and distractions may not be the place for this type of learner. Institutions are slow to react to the needs of special learners, but an E-environment adapts quickly.

Education is the second largest industry in the United States,* and many in this industry are familiar with E-learning. The world of online classes or cyber-based instruction and educational software is nothing new, but this three part essay takes us further down the path in order to ask some important questions: “where is this phenomenon taking us? Will it be good for students and teachers, and will it be good for business and the economy?

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2006-07 Edition, Educational Services, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs034.htm (visited March 22, 2006). Last Modified Date: December 20, 2005

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Einstein, the defiant student

The following information was excerpted from Creating Minds by Howard Gardner.

Only a few months from passing away, Albert Einstein credited a certain school for his success. Einstein attended a “progressive Canton school” in early adolescence. They offered a humanistic approach to subjects and emphasized the importance of visual understanding in the mastery of concepts.

Einstein recalled that he liked the teachers there because the teachers "based themselves on no external authority." He resented rote memorization and regimented learning, favoring instead open ended, problem solving type learning. “He revealed his contempt by performing poorly and acting defiantly in class.”

The point this makes is that a gap exists in many schools between the types of learners and thinkers that some students are, and the kind of education they are receiving.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Navigating the Cyber-Learning Environment

New movements in consumer behavior sometimes sneak up on us. Consumers want to do things their way, and if they can find an easier, cheaper way to get what they want - They'll go after it. Take MP3s for example. There was nothing wrong with CD's in terms of ease of use and sound quality. But consumers, at times, wanted to download one or two tracks and not the whole album. They wanted to mix their own CDs and the freedom to instantaneously download and then play music. It took a while, but the music industry caught up to them. Proving this phenomenon was real, Apple's iTunes music store has already passed the billionth download of a song and the system they are primarily played on, iPods, have completely restored Apple to being a hugely profitable company.

Technology and the bottom-up revolution


MP3 players are not the only technology to make a bottom-up revolution possible. People can choose where they get their news and information or write their own on easy-to-use blogs. Companies like Technorati make it possible to syndicate a blog, or pick up news phenomena even if it is not being handled by one of the major news organizations.

Effect on Education

Will technology bring this type of bottom-up consumerism to education? Leaders in education have been quick to follow technological innovations. If teachers aren't driving it, then technically literate and game savvy students will. Adopting new technologies is unavoidable, but is also complex. Imagine being a teacher or administrator and trying to come up with plans that take into consideration podcasting, blogging, blog-portfolios, video-casts or even instant messaging. All the indicators show growth in these areas, which is why it is imperative to begin discussing creative and effective combinations. Thomas Friedman and Daniel Pink have been making the argument for more conceptual thinkers and generalists to help guide the way. In fact, in a recent article Friedman says that India and China will need more of these types of thinkers if their engineers, software developers and other technically trained people are to succeed.

Growth in Private Instruction

Growth in the tutoring markets also points to, what I think will be the next great combination, that of private instruction and instant messaging, AV technology. Imagine a system that will allow for expert opinion, coaching, assistance and teaching in real time, from anyone to anywhere. Given enough choices in this market, students and adults will be able to locate instruction and help from people who more closely match their needs and learning styles, creating an adaptable, catered learning environment. Watch for news from a company called Facebridge Research. They are developing a system which will help to monetize cyber-tutoring. The real creativity in all of this will come in the potential applications and combinations of this technology.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Craigslist on Google Video


Some random thoughts on Google Video: 1.) will it be a substitute for Blockbuster, netflix, DVDs, etc.? 2.) How does it compare to iTunes video downloads? 3.) Will there be anything of educational value there, and if so, will they offer a teacher discount? If I find out anything, I'll report back.

In the meantime, there's a video called
"24 Hours on Craigslist," which looks interesting. According to the Mercury News, Craigslist had 8.7 million visitors in September of 2005. The same article, excerpted below, compares Craigslist to a new service by - of course - Google.

"EBay and craigslist are the dominant online marketplaces for now. But there are signs that Google may try to shake up the status quo. The Mountain View company recently launched Google Base, an online database that accepts a variety of content from individuals, including classified listings. And Google has also filed a patent application for a service called Google Automat, aimed at making the posting of classified-type ads fast and easy. As usual, however, the company has been vague about its long-range plans."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Power of Randomness

"It seems that creativity will flourish when we increase our chances for seemingly random events to occur. The best way to work this randomness into our thought patterns is to develop the habit of being exposed to new ideas, people and concepts on a regular basis. If we take the time to plan for this randomness by limiting our distractions, we can increase our ability to solve problems."


The quote is from Mark Sincevich, writing in his column called Creative Corner, which appeared in the latest Small Business Opportunity Magazine.

The blogosphere and Internet as a whole, certainly, are great ways of increasing the power of randomness.

About the photo: it comes from a site called VisualComplexity.com .

"VisualComplexity.com intends to be a unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks. The project's main goal is to leverage a critical understanding of different visualization methods, across a series of disciplines, as diverse as Biology, Social Networks or the World Wide Web. I truly hope this space can inspire, motivate and enlighten any person doing research on this field."


"The intent of WebTraffic is to develop prototype 3D visualizations of online behaviour - user paths across cyberspace. The project is lead by Antoine Visonneau, with colleagues in the Center for Design Informatics, Harvard Design School. Their latest designs used VRML to visualize traffic within a website, with the vertical gray bars being individual pages and the red lines links between them."

Note: Wouldn't it be interesting if one of these visualizations of online behavior turned out to look like dendrites in the brain?

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