Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blog Assignment: Evaluating and Identifying Online Resources is a lot of information out there about the brain and learning, information processing theory, and problem-solving methods during the learning process.  Here is some of what I found:

  1. Wikipedia:  This is a nice introduction to Information Processing Theory. I love Wikipedia, because the articles here are always framed nicely and bundled up neatly. Indeed, Wikipedia is very cognitive in its approach (putting things into bullet points and subheadings), and perhaps this organizational approach is a byproduct of collaborative learning.
  2. The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information:  This is an article written by a Harvard Professor (George A. Miller) in 1956.  It describes experiments with a person's capacity to transmit and receive information (input and output). His conclusion is that we can do about 7 "bits" (+ or - 2). A "bit" is the amount of information "needed to make a decision between two likely alternatives." For example, is a person taller than six feet or not(yes or no). Second example: the ability to identify and distinguish a musical note from the other 7 notes.  A person can learn more information ("bits") by grouping the information and creating larger "chunks" of information.  The formula still applies, however.  A person can process only 7 chunks of information (+ or -2). 
  3. The Role of Aging in Adult Learning: Implications for Instructors in Higher Education:  Most articles on information processing theory are always talking about children and developing young brains. I wanted also to find out about the brain when one gets older.  This article discusses:

    • Physiological Aspects of Aging on Learning
    • Psychological Self-Image of the Adult Learner
    • Learning Expectations of the Adult
    • Implications for Educators in Higher Education

    In the past, it was thought that the brain’s ability to learn decreased by 1% each year after age 25. Ridiculous!

    “The good news here is that research supports the notion of lifelong learning in healthy individuals at least well into their seventies. While no one can stop the aging process, there are some things that have been associated with increased retention of mental processes: education; exercise; absence of chronic diseases and illness and otherwise stimulating activities to the brain have all been shown to help the cognitive process (Merriam, 2001).”

  4. Games (Applied Theory).   I don’t know why I’m so focused on growing old. It’s a big fear, I guess. Anyway, there are a lot of sites that claim to help exercise the brain and enhance learning. There are over 35 million adults over 65 years old in the U.S., and this seems to be a growing market. Here are some sites that contain brain fitness exercises:

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