The process of learning was traditionally a long, drawn-out, boring, time-consuming ordeal, but learning methods have evolved into a more productive pursuit. By this I mean that modern technology has made the task of learning new material so much more simplified.
We live in a digital world-analog devices are rapidly becoming dinosaurs. Chances are many of you reading this hadn't even born yet when my daughter gave me my first computer. It was a Timex-can you imagine that! It was smaller-even with the keyboard-than today's Kindle from Amazon. And it didn't do much. Its output was fed into an old TV set.
Today I have a Blackberry, which will soon be replaced by an iPhone, an iPad and I'm sitting here pecking away on an HP laptop equipped with Windows 7.
Learning to study in the digital age seems so much simpler to me. Yes... there are still times when I find myself preparing for a test of one sort or another. You see, I am a member of the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary-Civil Air Patrol (CAP). This is an all-volunteer organization that is assigned about 90% of the Air Force's inland search and rescue missions. We search for missing persons, lost hikers and overdue aircraft.
Learning new skills is all basic to keeping my personal abilities up to date. Whether it's flying one of our Cessna aircraft, communicating with our new HF radios or learning how to participate in a disaster relief mission (hurricanes, floods, etc.), I must qualify by learning new material and nearly every month I find myself confronted with an online training lesson and an exam.
Writing the various articles on my blog was quite a challenge for me. But since this was a topic I needed to pursue for my own benefit, I took the plunge and turned to a professional educator for help. I'll give you more on that in just a bit.
Over the past few months I've researched some exciting new topics-new for me at least. I have a much better picture now of how this crusty old brain of mine is able to function more like a modern-day computer-rather than like that old Timex, which seemed to have a mind of its own.
I find that when I have some time alone, I meditate. Others think I'm taking a nap. Granted-I do tend to slip off into never, never land, but today-in between snatches of meditation I came up with a study tool I had not given much thought about before. I plan to try it after writing this article. I hope some of you out there will try it too. Here's what I have in mind:
1. My computer has a built-in camera. Its quality really sucks, but it will work for what I have in mind. Chances are your computer has a camera too. The question is can it be used to record video.
2. I also have a copy of Windows Video Movie Maker. The challenge is to somehow connect my built-in video camera to Movie Maker. Once I have this figured out, I'll have a nifty new study tool.
3. My idea is to record myself reading the text materials from a new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) course on the incident command system I'm working on.
The idea here is a simple one-it will be like creating my own training videos. If my understanding is correct of how basic memory works, my sensory inputs (touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell) all provide short-term memory inputs to my brain. But this is just temporary storage-like your computer's RAM... switch it off and it's gone.
So what is needed is a means of moving the information into long-term memory (my brain's hard drive). I'm thinking that by spending the time making a training video will provide some stimulation, but what I'm studying will work its way across town-to my long-term memory by repetition-by playing back the video over and over again.
Anyway, this is just a theory, but what I now know about long-term memory may translate into a useful study tool. I could become rich and famous-well, maybe not rich but if this works for you, I'll bet you remember me.