Sleep plays an important role in the brain’s ability to consolidate learning when two new potentially competing tasks are learned in the same day, research at the University of Chicago demonstrates.
Other studies have shown that sleep consolidates learning for a new task. The new study, which measured starlings’ ability to recognize new songs, shows that learning a second task can undermine the performance of a previously learned task. But this study is the first to show that a good night’s sleep helps the brain retain both new memories.New research from the University of Chicago
Yearly Archives: 2013
For most of the 20th century, professional designers had a clear project in view. Modernism was the order of the day, and functionality, simplicity and innovation were unquestioned virtues. Today things are messier. We have become more aware that different people around the globe want and need different things. Style cults come and go so quickly that keeping track of them is an industry in its own right. Progress itself is coming to seem a dubious prospect, given contemporary debates about the environment and the increased appreciation of traditional culture. These days who is to say what constitutes good design? Glenn Adamson enjoys a rapid-fire and illuminating ode to contemporary design
A new study by the University of Sussex finds that the repetition is important for little learners.
Dr. Jessica Horst and her researchers say that children who were read the same story three times back-to-back, instead of three different stories, actually retain 3.6 of the new words they’ve been introduced to instead of the 2.6 of the “variety” group.
Researchers point to the benefits of reading.
Though the study focuses on children around 18 months old and contrary to some advice I have received, I follow this same routine in my own language learning. I think it works.
Skipping Out On College And ‘Hacking Your Education’
The cost of college can range from $60,000 for a state university to four times as much at some private colleges. The total student debt in the U.S. now tops credit card debt. So a lot of people are asking: Is college really worth it?
“One of the great myths of the school system is that we tell people that everyone should learn exactly the same thing and exactly the same way, at roughly exactly the same speed. And that’s just not true. People learn in different ways, at different speeds, at different times. And so hacking your education allows you to learn what, when, how and where you want.”
Dale J. Stephens, author of Hacking Your Education and founder of UnCollege.org
What Most Schools Don’t Teach – Short Film
Alexander Graham Bell on Originality, Plagiarism, Language, and Education
It is ridiculous to expect that a [child] shall talk or write good English, unless good English has been PREVIOUSLY presented to the child in spoken or written form — and in sufficient quantity to impress Good English expressions upon his mind.Alexander Graham Bell on Originality, Plagiarism, Language, and Education by Maria Popova
Designing a Practical UI for a Gesture-Based Interface
We realized that the best way to deal with fatigue was to enable users to rest their elbow on a table or the arm of their chair. Our tests showed that for the first two buttons on the right side, the users had great results. Fatigue was minimal even after several minutes of interaction. To reach the two buttons on the left, however, the users had to raise their elbow, which brought back the problem of fatigue. This proved to be true even when we put all four buttons in a stack formation or a square formation. We kept coming up against the issue that only some of the points were convenient to select without having to bend the wrist or elbow in an uncomfortable way.
If You Multitask Often, You’re Impulsive and Bad at Multitasking
Multitasking appears to be less of a special talent and more of an ADD-type behavior: The frequent multitaskers in this study were just unable to focus on one thing at a time.
The people who multitask the most tend to be impulsive, sensation-seeking, overconfident of their multitasking abilities, and they tend to be less capable of multitasking.
From Who Multi-Tasks and Why? Multi-Tasking Ability, Perceived Multi-Tasking Ability, Impulsivity, and Sensation Seeking. Via The Atlantic. See also The Myth of Multitasking.
WWF’s iPad app
WWF’s fantastic new iPad app by AKQA – it’s free.
Connecting to your loved ones around the world at the flick of a switch!
The Good Night Lamp is a family of internet-connected lamps. Turn the Big Lamp on and the Little Lamps turn on wherever they are.
Keeping in touch with people has gradually become more than being “always on, sometimes off”. We would like to think that people can share parts of their lives with their families & loved ones in more subtle ways with the flick of a switch. A physical social network.
Musical Creativity and the Brain
Some bits from Mónica López-gonzález introduction to her article for the Creativitypost.
While working with young jazz soloists, Miles Davis once said, “Play what you hear, not what you know.” Practice, experience, and sheer talent taught Davis that a personally and socially satisfying gig occurs when the ideas entering the musician’s imagination are developed through solo improvisations instead of ignored in favor of practiced patterns. Simply put, no one wants to pay for and hear a contrived performance. Both the fascination we have with the art of in-the-moment creation and the value we place on it continue to flourish.
A primary difference between our brains and those of other animals is our capacity to engage in cognitive abilities such as reasoning, representation, association, working memory, and self-reflection. During any creative act, from language production to marketing techniques selling the latest iPhone, ideas or past experiences are combined in novel and significant ways via the interaction of such cognitive capacities.
Humans appear to have a propensity for making complex new things that are not explicitly necessary for biological survival or reproduction. In comparison to other arts, such as design, photography, and sculpture, however, the universal abilities of musical creation and processing are generally accepted as some of the oldest and most fundamental of human socio-cognitive development. In fact, researchers have argued for music’s role in evolutionary biology. Scholar Ellen Dissanayake has further claimed from an ethnological stance that the creation and appreciation of art more generally are advanced adaptive behaviors that are key to social survival.
From Musical Creativity and the Brain at the Creativitypost.
To See Vs. To Watch
The mobile photographic vision of a graphic designer into common daily life objects. By David Crunelle on how
… mobile photography, despite all critics, can bring an interesting added value to the way people look at their environment. Shooting using different and awkward angles gives a new perspective to objects, buildings or ordinary and boring daily scenes.
In fact, if you forget the 99.99% of mobile pictures which focus on people’s feet, shadows, self-portraits in the bathroom mirror, cute cats and juicy hamburgers, mobile photography must be seen as a step further in the development of the art of contemporary photography.
Product Design: A PBS Off Book Documentary
… the world of product design, from its aesthetic and pizzaz to its ethic and values, featuring fuseproject’s Yves Behar, Peter Schmitt of MIT’s Personal Robotics Group, and Dr. Harvey Moscot of Mocost Eyewear. Though limited in both scope and “cast,” the film squeezes an impressive amount in its measly 6 minutes and offers a welcome prompt to think a little more deeply about the myriad products with which we interact daily.
Via Maria Popova.
Documentary exploring the future of Interaction Design and User Experience
Documentary exploring the future of Interaction Design and User Experience [18-min video]
The 18 minute “Connecting” documentary is an exploration of the future of Interaction Design and User Experience from some of the industry’s thought leaders. As the role of software is catapulting forward, Interaction Design is seen to be not only increasing in importance dramatically, but also expected to play a leading role in shaping the coming “Internet of things.” Ultimately, when the digital and physical worlds become one, humans along with technology are potentially on the path to becoming a “super organism” capable of influencing and enabling a broad spectrum of new behaviors in the world.
Re: Sound Bottle
Jun Fujiwara’s Re: Sound Bottle collects sounds and turns them into music.
This is a music medium that can reproduce a recorded voice as music. It makes a database of sound sources that is managed and used as formal and automatic repetitions, and forms a music medium of the day. I felt something missing in the habitual use of music reproduction media, so I thought to create an interactive music medium that changes. By using everyday voices as sources of music, the sounds that are heard all the time every day carry infinite possibilities and help us reaffirm the enjoyment of music. I hope people can experience their own music.
Fixing Our Food Problem
Nothing affects public health in the United States more than food. Gun violence kills tens of thousands of Americans a year. Heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes kill more than a million people a year — nearly half of all deaths — and diet is a root cause of many of those diseases.
And the root of that dangerous diet is our system of hyper-industrial agriculture, the kind that uses 10 times as much energy as it produces.
We must figure out a way to un-invent this food system. It’s been a major contributor to climate change, spawned the obesity crisis, poisoned countless volumes of land and water, wasted energy, tortured billions of animals… I could go on. The point is that “sustainability” is not only possible but essential: only by saving the earth can we save ourselves, and vice versa.
How do we do that?
This seems like a good day to step back a bit and suggest something that’s sometimes difficult to accept.
We can only dismantle this system little by little, and slowly. Change takes time. Often — usually — that time exceeds the life span of its pioneers.
Mark Bittman on fixing the US, and by extension much of the world’s, food problem. If you want to make changes in your eating habits but need someone to give you a concrete plan you might consider visiting Mark’s Daily Apple, The Paleo Diet, or Robb Wolf’s site.
Paris, City of Light
I’m a sucker for well done time lapse photography. This film from Benjamin Trancart (Trak) is beautifully done.
￼Do Kids Need Computers (or iPads) to Learn?￼
Computers of various shapes and sizes, and ubiquitous network connectivity, are the siren song of those wanting to improve whatever education system they are involved with.
One is that most parents, school officials and politicians see children’s familiarity with computers at an early age as desirable – nay, imperative – for successful individual careers and for society’s prosperity in a “knowledge economy.”
… some of the top technology experts at Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard and other such firms send their children to a private school where computers are off-limits until Grade 8 (when even then their use is limited). The school believes computers reduce attention spans, inhibit creative thinking and interfere with face-to-face interaction.
Says one father, who holds a computer-science degree, uses an iPad and smartphone and works at Google: “The idea that an app or an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.” He also notes, “At Google and all these other places, we make technology as brain-dead easy to use as possible. There’s no reason why kids can’t figure it out when they get older.”
His daughter’s fifth-grade teacher introduces fractions by slicing apples and cake into halves, quarters and sixteenths. (“When I made enough fractional pieces of cake to feed everyone,” the teacher says, “do you think I had their attention?”) Knitting socks teaches problem-solving, co-ordination and math.
Heidegger wrote at a time when our only electronic distractions were television, movies and radio. Their entertainment content (as distinct from news reports and documentaries), he suggested, present an artificial world that disconnects us from the real world. It’s like the light pollution that prevents from seeing the reality of the stars.
Architects of Learning
An important and interesting perspective exploring the ‘perilous’ intersection of technology, pedagogy, and the future of education. Tablet airdrops aren’t the answer that almost everyone thinks they are.
The information age has produced an exhilarating array of pedagogical ideas and tools, yet despite all the revolutionary talk about computers and constructivism, the monolithic lecture is still the norm. We know this is wrong. Students have diverse interests and motivations and learn in different ways. The one thing they share is a 15 minute attention span. The lecture has value, but it must be short and is just a part of the whole. Teachers must weave conversation, inquiry, and performance into “architectures of learning” that meet the needs of each class.
This act of synthesis is hard. Technology won’t save the day, and teachers can’t cross the chasm alone. Designers, developers, publishers, and librarians are just a few of the folks needed to build these cross-platform services and structures for learners.
Information literacy – the ability the find, evaluate, create, organize, and use information from myriad sources in multiple media – is the basis for lifelong learning. It’s increasingly important in every aspect of our lives from shopping and entertainment to healthcare and finance. And yet, most people, young and old, lack the requisite skills and understanding.
Let’s explore one tiny example. Our girls often ask for help with their homework, yet I’m easily stumped by middle school math. When I go to Google, they tell me they tried that, but I always find what we need. I’m not better at math. I’m better at search. And that’s why I’m able to help. But not all parents are librarians, so many kids must stay stuck.
Architects of Learning by Peter Morville
Jerry Seinfeld on information design (1981)
They show you the satellite photo. A photograph of the Earth from 10,000 miles away. Can you tell if you should take a sweater or not from that? I have no idea. If I really need to know the weather I watch Romper Room, the kiddy show. They lay it on the line. If the little wooly guy on the wall gets a raincoat, I know what’s happening.
Via Boing Boing.