Hillcroft LRC

Posts Tagged ‘learning

tulipsBW-800pxSuch phrases that are supposed to encourage hard work sometimes have the opposite effect. For example, being told to ‘put your nose to the grindstone’ could put off anyone for whom self-discipline is elusive, from ever studying again! In the New Scientist this week (Issue 3126, pp. 27-30) is a feature article called ‘Daydream believer’. It looks at what we can do to increase our focus at a long task such as revision, looking particularly at letting the mind wander around a topic.

Several studies suggest that letting yourself daydream intentionally about a topic which you are learning is a more effective strategy than forcing yourself to concentrate over a lengthy period.

So when you’re studying, don’t put your nose to the grindstone – tend to the thought garden. Consider the makeup of the flowers (the interesting parts), appreciate the insects and worms (the causes and unseen elements), imagine the sunshine and rain that will fall in the future (the bigger context and processes). Build up an intentional daydream about your topic of study. Mull things over not only when you’re at a desk or in the library, but when you’re in the shower, walking up from the station or making a cup of tea.

There are tried and tested memory techniques that are based on visualisation of the topic matters for instance in rooms of a “house”.

snapping-turte

Common snapping turtle by Steve Loya is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

There are moments in the day to take up a book. If you already enjoy reading for pleasure these moments come naturally – during ad breaks on TV, on the train or between classes. For others, spare time is eaten up by other things. Sometimes snatching 5 minutes here and there is not enough to really get the most out of reading. It takes time to get into a book whether you are an avid or a more deliberate reader. Although just 20 minutes a day is supposed to be helpful to relaxation and more. One way we try to make it easier to enter the world of a book is through shorter reads. Snappy stories that get you hooked in fast.

In the LRC we have Quick Reads and Graded Readers. These short reads are designed to fit into busy schedules or for people who don’t have time or feel like reading much. The Graded Readers also have CDs to make it even easier to keep reading and leap over that first 5 minute hurdle to become immersed in a book. There’ll be six new Quick Reads in the new year to widen the selection even further.

It’s easy to underestimate the power of a good read. Finding out something new, seeing a new perspective, escaping the daily grind.  Books are meaningful.

Primal PicturesLast week Primal Pictures moved onto a new platform at Anatomy.TV. Primal Pictures gives you a three-dimensional view of the human body. It covers the systems of the body;  skeletal, muscular, digestive, lymphatic, intergumentary, nervous, cardiovascular, reproductive and metabolic.

Each of the systems come with a Getting Started section which explains what you will learn in the module and an introduction to the topic. It then shows you the effects of the aging process on it and examines the different types of conditions and diseases that affect the system. Lastly there is a case study with questions to test your learning.

Our Access to Higher Education Health and Human Sciences and Level 3 Diploma in Massage Therapy students find Primal an essential resource.

We’ve updated our Virtual Learning Environment Eresources page with the new links and the new help videos which you can access on YouTube.

We get Primal Pictures from Jisc Collections. If you want to find out more about what material Jisc can offer take a look at their website.

Gold Mine by Kuznetsov is licensed under CC by 2.0

Gold Mine by Kuznetsov is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

First of all, what do we mean by information overload? It is that feeling of falling down a dark hole when there is too much information to carry out a task. So even simple tasks can be made difficult when we are faced with too many options and no specific direction.

For example, you may need to find out about main theorists for a subject for your UCAS application. As Confucius is credited with saying ‘You can not open a book without learning something.’ There are entire libraries online and offline devoted to human knowledge. Where do you start?

If you have access to lots of information this gives you the chance to be selective and find a direction. The trouble is how can you be selective without being biased or limited? How can you read it all? We all need help with overcoming our biases, speed reading and managing time. The key is not learning willy-nilly (although this can be great too sometimes!) but to focus on what you need to learn for the task at hand. Finding the most appropriate, relevant nuggets of information is the ultimate challenge of academic study (and who knows, probably in life too!).

There is no one way to cope with information overload. We would like to hear about your advice to other students on that awful feeling of being overwhelmed with too many sources, too many theories, too many words. What do you do? What if you are dyslexic? What if you are starved for time?

If you post a tip to us by email, on Twitter or in the LRC and you may receive a World Science Day calendar thanks to UNESCO.

Hello! We’re welcoming a new bunch of Hillcroftians this week as Access courses begin. Here’s a thought for when you’re new to a subject or want to build your knowledge base which I am sure everyone will be eager to do at this time of year 😉
Puzzled?

Testing your knowledge is fun if…you think you’re quite knowledgeable on a subject. It is not so fun when you feel intimated by a subject. A while ago I read an article about a national survey along the lines of ‘how musical is your brain’. They concluded that British people had a very high musical aptitude based on their high scores on many questions and activities. What I think was more likely was that people who volunteered to fill in the survey felt themselves to be musical. While those people who weren’t confident with music ignored the survey to avoid highlighting their lack of musical ability. Often methodologies can skew the data.

In an everyday scenario, when you really don’t want to check your bank balance (for fear that it is so low) is precisely the time when you should check your bank balance. i.e. don’t bury your head in the sand. If we apply my father’s advice to our knowledge in academic subjects or workplace, we should be checking our knowledge banks in order to gauge where we are and where we need to go, especially when we are starting out or falling behind.

I found this really good resource called Being Digital by the Open University. It’s for self-assessing study skills, particularly when using online tools. They are only 5-10 mins long and most importantly they have lots of tips and activities to get you on the right track. Go on and try the Assess your skills pathway especially if you are not confident with studying online. Let us know what you think.

Non-fiction with picturesGetting new textbooks and non-fiction books that are suitable for Further Education students is an enjoyable and challenging part of the LRC team’s job. There are fantastic books on all subjects but the problem is that some are higher education focused, i.e. really wordy.

Making the most of Illustrations is a central part of reading. A picture tells a thousand words, right? We keep an eye out for non-fiction that has lots of pictures and graphics alongside high-quality writing.This is good news for a faster engagement with new topics and understanding for visual learners such as dyslexics. At the same time, non-fiction books that are less text-heavy are also easier to skim read and skip to key subheadings. These can be good reading strategies. Humour is often used too which can make even the driest subject more interesting.

Here are a few titles that are new and focus on illustrating the issues (we’re not saying these subjects are dry!):

Let us know what other non-fiction ‘picture books’ you like. Which subjects lend themselves well to being illustrated or is this approach just for children?

BETT 2015 is a giant exhibition for teachers and all those in education. What a treat! Yesterday I went to see the latest innovations in technology for use in all types of educational environments. It was somewhat overwhelming with hundreds of companies and seminars going on in more than one location. (The staff were so helpful in pointing me in the right direction when I got lost). I wanted to share the highlight discovery for me:

On the theme of informal online learning, I met Roar Knüppel the co-founder of Bibblio. They handpick the best free content on the internet including lots of videos, slides and other media that are really engaging and educational. For example, it has TED talks and BBC earth video collections. The are also 6 topics to browse: science, technology, people, nature, culture and society. You can follow other people’s collections of resources and/or curate your own. It’s great not to have to waste time searching through closed access, low quality or dull content – although I haven’t explored enough yet but the first impressions are golden. I have three videos to watch already in my collections.