Lifelong learning

Teachers do not take skills learning for granted in their students. They might, however, take them for granted in themselves. I read an article How to Transform Your Next Conference Takeaways into Real-Life Results and it made me think of myself and the teachers I had known who had been off to really thought provoking and enlightening conferences and then could not always find a way of implementing what they learned or allowing others to know what they knew. Sharing those newly learned skills. There is a way of learning new skills and applying them. In recent years I have always used social media to show and grow my ideas so that they become part of my thinking. There is the Conscious Competence Ladder by Noel Bursch which makes sense once you see it:

Unconsciously unskilled – we don’t know that we don’t have this skill, or that we need to learn it.
Consciously unskilled – we know that we don’t have this skill.
Consciously skilled– we know that we have this skill.
Unconsciously skilled – we don’t know that we have this skill (it just seems easy).

The video by Thomas Frank explains neurological developments as we learn , offers some good links and explains new skills acquisition and application well. He is also quite clear about the fact the skills and knowledge you acquire from effective teaching at school can be applied to lifelong learning.  I was laughing when he got to the bit when actually standing on the skateboard nails it! It’s true. Sometimes you have to make the obvious first step and working that out takes a bit of planning sometimes. No teacher will overlook that when they are teaching.  You have to download the app, send that email, work out your first sentence or simply turn on your laptop.

It’s important to have a plan for applying a strategy if you want to learn something or you want to teach someone else.

1. What is the first step?
2. What practice do you/they need?
3. What are the benefits, the positives, the good impacts of knowing?
4. Do you/they need to find more help on a particular thing?
5. Do you/they know what you/they don’t know?
6. What are the road blocks/potholes/implementation dips?
7. Master the first thing first.
8. Have a plan for getting to the next thing.
9. Map out your/their learning journey.
10. Reward yourself/them along the way.

AND THEN…look back and see how far you have come. Find a way to document the journey. Might be a diary, journal, video, images, blog but make sure the learning journey is clearly documented along the way because that is the biggest reward of all: seeing how far you have come. Reflection is how you know you know.

One minute videos are the thing

With video , you can achieve so much in one minute whether it’s instructional or informational. Snapchat knows it. Instagram knows it. Facebook is revisiting it and YouTube and Vimeo are embracing it. One of our local councils used to have a one minute video competition for 16-25 year olds but appears to have stopped it after last year. The featured video was designed to help the aspiring video makers for that competition in 2013. Like the 140 characters of Twitter, a one minute video is a skills and competencies challenge which disciplines  thinking and approach. When you have limits like that you have to think, plan and create very carefully. It forces you to have a laser focus on optimum content delivery and visual presentation. There are plenty of sites to help and inspire you with one minute videos:

oneminutewonders

one minute videos on YouTube

one minute travel films

one minute videos on Vimeo

how to make a one minute video

In defence of libraries

Noarlunga Library It’s the Noarlunga Library’s fault I haven’t been to a library in 20 years! I used to be at the library every week and it was a great place for my daughter . They played their part in ensuring she loved books and reading. She even went back as a volunteer when she was older. It was a great library then with all the foreign language books, the wealth of health books,computing texts, the craft and art books and the massive choice of fiction. They installed computers and allowed us access to this new Internet thing. I booked the two of us in for an hour at a time and we were lost in Netscape and just loved it, so much so I bought my IBM 486 computer and suddenly we could find everything online and were spending lot of time online .The library became superfluous to requirements. Last Wednesday was foul weather in Adelaide and I had the urge to go back to the library to see what had happened to it. It is an airy, well thought out space now. There are not so many books but there are more electronic media, magazines and computers. They even had some retro computers in their own special spot which were fully utilised as flat screens sat idle and unpopular. That was really interesting. There were more magazines and they were really well organised and covered a wide variety of interests. The staff set me up well and quickly and I was borrowing in no time. I also had an update and explanation of how it all works online now. Libraries are linked and so you can book resources you search and they will come to your nearest library. You can read books online or download them to a compatible reader. What interested me as I wandered was there was a map of the proposed changes to the Port Noarlunga foreshore to include and upgraded walking trail. It was clearly explained, there were photographs and it was information worth seeing. There was a lot of art work featured too. It wasn’t overly busy, probably because of the weather. Everyone there was engrossed in what they were doing. I came out with a number of books and some magazines which have already gone to work really hard in my life with the ideas they have brought me. A book or magazine brings specific content which is curated in a careful way. It is focused learning and focused presentation of material. Books have things which are not necessarily on the internet. It’s another way to see the ideas and creativity of others. The library is now going to be a regular part of my life because it is a learning space which allows you to explore in your own way.It is truly about personalised learning. I am still discovering the online part of it but I can see that will help broaden and deepen my searches and access to information. On a computer you are available to others. In a library you are available to yourself and that thought struck me clearly. Libraries are there for you and your own self development and that has been lost in the passion for technology . Originally, computing was just for me on my IBM 486 but now it has become a place where I am expected to be there. I am used to it and do well with technology but it was lovely to just have me time in the library where my learning needs are met uninterrupted and without any expectations other than my own . That is a library’s biggest asset in 2016.

Verbal vs visual memory

I’ll let you do the test in this video and see how you go. Good little test for students too so they can see how they remember things. There are then a number of suggestions as to how you improve your memory. It is important to know how you take in information and it is important to be able to retain the information you want. I have had an interesting experience this week because I am actually reading a paper copy of a novel. It has been odd because as I look at the page my brain seems to be wanting to process other things. The things which you filter out as you read on a tablet or computer. It is also making me aware that as I read I am taking a lot of other things in on a digital screen and that the visual aspects of reading digitally are both expected and important. I have to wait for about 10 minutes so I can just focus on the printed page . I am having to slow my eyes and brain down and then I am thinking just paper and text is not really helping me but it is slowing me down. I like the aspect we have now of processing text and visuals at the same time. I take the information in better. Maybe I have rewired myself? In any case we do need to pay attention to what is happening so we can understand the problems and the benefits and so that we can design materials which improve learning and retention of information. We have considerably increased the amount of information people are processing and much of it is visual so we have to understand how that information is processed and can be processed and we also need to recognize how we are disadvantaging people when we present information in a particular way. I have now reached a stage where I need time to process hard copy print only information. Once I have had my lead in time I can absorb it as fast as I have always been able to but using technology has changed how I am processing information initially. For those brought up on technology only there will be issues when they are confronted with paper only information and that needs to be understood. It now works both ways because there are people who are disadvantaged by the amount of information which comes at them on a screen and initially they are disoriented and cannot process it. They have to be taught how to read a screen. Visual and verbal memories can be trained  to work together no matter how you absorb information. It just makes you more aware and more efficient.

How your brain learns

This is a great video to show anyone who wants to know how their brain works. It is also a good video to show students because it is clear and explains things very well. It is also a good example of how you can teach complex information in a digestible form so that anyone can understand it. The combination of hand drawn information, animation, clip art and then a voice over really does encourage understanding. The Learning Pod has other videos on a variety of topics to help people understand various things particularly in the area of Maths. There have been no new videos for a while. I wonder why? It would be of benefit to keep these sorts of videos funded and resourced.

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