Thursday, June 28, 2007

Learning Styles - Help for Auditory and Mobile Learners

It may sound like science fiction, but if you’ve upgraded your computer within the last 3 years, chances are, you can talk to it and it can talk to you.

Instead of typing in the text, you can simply read or speak into the microphone, and the computer will turn your voice into text. And instead of reading, you can ask the computer to read out the text for you.

As you can imagine, this is outstanding news for learners who prefer to get their information through their ears (auditory learners) as opposed to through their eyes. It’s also good for people who enjoy talking more than they enjoy typing, or whose brain seems to freeze when they are faced with a blank sheet of paper on which to type or write.

Furthermore, it is not necessary to sit in front of the computer when using voice input (yay from all those with aching backs, those who like informal learning areas and those who need mobility when learning difficult concepts). Of course, you must be able to see the monitor to find out whether your words are correctly recognised, but apart from that, you can use voice input while standing, walking or lying down.

Are you an auditory learner? What learning area is optimal for you? Do you need to walk around while memorising new information? Visit us on to find out.

A word of caution about talking computers, though: sometimes we tend to glorify computers and attribute human-like intelligence to them. Not surprisingly then, when it comes to voice input devices, we often have unrealistic expectations. We imagine that the computer will read our minds (“listen to what I think, not to what I say”). Unfortunately, we are still years away from the scenario of talking to our computers the way we would to a fellow human being, one with two ears and a well-trained human brain between them. Also, it may take a few weeks of reading pages of prescribed text to your computer, before it can recognise your particular accent and speech patterns.

You can find out whether your computer is capable of voice input by going to the Control Panel (from the Start menu). If you find a Speech icon, your computer is ready to go!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Learning styles and brain sex

Men and women do think differently, revealed a new research study into the anatomy of the brain.

Our brain is made primarily of two different types of tissue:
· grey matter (which can be seen as information processing centers)
· and white matter (which serves as a network to these processing centers).

The latest findings conclude that men think by utilising chiefly their grey matter, while women think more with the white matter. This explains why men often excel at tasks requiring more localized processing, such as mathematics, while women tend to be better at integrating and assimilating information, which aids language skills.

Is your brain better at sequential information processing or simultaneous information processing or equally good at both? To find out, do the Learning Style Analysis ( or the Working Style Analysis (

(For the full article on the new research into Brain Sex, have a look at

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Learning Styles and Your Sleep

What’s your Learning Style when it comes to the preferred time of day? I’m a true-blue night owl, and if I had the world my way, we would all go to bed at 3 a.m. and sleep till lunchtime. But is it such a good idea?

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise,” goes the old saying. I usually paraphrase it as “Early to rise and early to bed makes you no fun before you’re dead.”

Then there is “The early bird catches the worm” with the caveat that “It’s the early worm that gets caught”.

So many sayings, so much folklore. Even your mother probably told you that sleep is best before midnight. I didn’t believe her: after all, the body doesn't know what time it is, so it can’t possibly matter what time you go to bed. Surely, when they say “sleep before midnight is the healthiest for you”, they must mean “the first two or so hours of your sleep are the most important”.

However, I've just read an interesting article that explains why our mothers were right all along. Research has shown that sleeping from 10pm to 6am results in much more rest than sleep from 12-8 or 2am-10am. It's to do with the body's natural clock: our sleep hormone (melatonin) is released an hour or two after it gets dark outside. That’s our natural biological cue for banking the fire in the cave and burrowing down into the bed of straw and furs.

If you miss that cue, you will have to wait another 90 minutes or so before the second wave of sleepiness hits you... but this one will not produce sleep that’s as sound and healthy as that first hormone-laden wave.

This means that night owls are at a disadvantage biologically, because we do our best work after dark. So we have a choice:
· get some healthy sleep and miss out on our productive time (this may lead to stress because we are then forced to work in a time slot that goes against our Working or Learning Style),
· or work in your preferred evening time slot, but miss out on the health benefits of sleep before midnight.

So what is a night owl to do? You may like to alternate your late evening activities: use it for sleep every second or third day, for example. It’s also important to have a look at your Working or Learning Style report to see if there is another time slot that you can use for working on something new or difficult.

If you are forced to work in a non-preferred time slot, then at least make sure that all your other preferences (environmental, physical, social, and so on) are satisfied in order to minimise the stress you will be placing on yourself by working against your Working or Learning Style.

(To assess your Working or Learning Style, please visit us on

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tired? Working Styles Can Help

Are you constantly tired? Is your mind buzzing with plans, to-do lists and feelings of guilt over the things you should-have-done? Perhaps you are trying to do too much. Or perhaps you are trying to do it in a way that’s not suitable to your Working Style.

For example, if you get up earlier than usual every morning in order to catch up on your chores, you may find that easy tasks are harder than you expected while difficult tasks are almost impossible. It might also lead to your feeling a lot more fatigued than you would have expected due to a shorter night. If that’s the case, it may be that you have a Working Style non-preference for working in the early hours of the morning and that you should consider another time slot for putting in additional hours.

What about multitasking? In our modern lifestyle, it’s not unusual to be in the middle of an online chat conversation about a project while at the same time conducting a phone conversation and trying to scan through your emails to fish out the really critical ones. This method of working is appropriate for people whose brains process information in a simultaneous way, but can be really tiring and stressful for those whose brains process in a sequential manner.

There are many more factors in your Working Style that could be contributing to your fatigue levels. Please visit us on to read more.
(Coming next: in a week’s time, we’ll be looking at sleep patterns and how they can affect your wellbeing. Remember to visit our blog next week.)