Friday, May 20, 2011

How Failure Makes Us Stronger

For the past couple of weeks, we have been discussing the brain and learning and I came across a related article from Reader's digest (Kita, 2009) that I found interesting.  The original magazine article was called How to Bounce Back from Anything and 5 Winners Teach Us How to Learn From Failure.  While the story about how five people overcame failure is interesting, what caught my attention was the sub-article about how the brain works when we encounter failure.  The sub-article How Failure Makes Us Stronger, (Kita, 2009) discusses a Stanford University study about two areas of the prefrontal cortex that are affected during the decision-making process.

On another interesting note, the article also contains a sub-article entitled How to Make Up Your Mind to Succeed,  This article contains some great tips for motivating kids as well as adults.

Kita, J. (2009, May). 5 Winners Teach Us How to Learn From Failure.  Reader's Disgest.  Retrieved from:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Brain, learning and sleep deprivation

During my research on the brain and learning, I found two great articles on how sleep deprivation affects the brain’s ability to retain information.  As adults, we understand the value of sleep for our children, but often do not follow the same rules for ourselves.  As adult learners, we should be aware of how sleep deprivation affects our ability to retain information.
As noted by Yasmin Anwar (2010) “New research from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that an hour’s nap can dramatically boost and restore your brain power.”  In tests conducted at the university, adult testers were placed into two categories: nap and no-nap.  The testers were subjected to “…a rigorous learning task intended to tax the hippocampus…” (Anwar, 2010), which is “…intimately involved in attention and learning…” (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler, 2009) as we learned from reading about the brain this week.  Those individuals in the nap group took a 90-minute nap in the afternoon, while the non-nap group stayed awake.  Later in the day, both groups were tested again and those who napped, not only did better than the group who did not nap, but actually showed improvement in their capacity to learn (see Figure 1 below).

Figure 1 - Students who napped (green column) did markedly better in memorizing tests than their no-nap counterparts. (Courtesy of Matthew Walker) (Anwar, 2010)

The UC Berkley study showed that sleep is needed to clear short-term memory and actually compared the results to a Email inbox that can no longer receive Email until it is cleared (Anwar, 2010).
In another study by the Washington University School of Medicine (2009), scientists studied fruit flies to show the affects of sleep deprivation and how sleep may be the key to removing unused synapses in order to make room for new synapses, which is “…one key way the brain encodes memories and learning…” (2009). While science has recognized the need for sleep in the learning process, the scientists in the study also “…revealed that learning increases the need for sleep in the fruit fly.” 

From studies like these, I think we can conclude that as adult learners working towards a degree, we should be more aware of how sleep and sleep deprivation can directly affect our ability to absorb and process new information!
Anwar, Y. (2010, February 22) An afternoon nap markedly boosts the brain’s learning capacity. UC Berkeley Newscenter.  Retrieved from
Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson
Washington University School of Medicine (2009, April 3). Sleep May Help Clear Brain For New Learning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from

Monday, May 9, 2011

Instructional Design Blogs

Ok class, here are three great instructional design blogs I found.

Instructional Design Open Studio –
This blog has a large number of blog topics all related to instructional design and technology.  There are 36 different blog topics to choose from to include a separate section for “roundtable” discussion blogs.  There is definitely a wealth of information here (from many sources) and I look forward to finding out what this site has to offer.

Instructional Design: On the road to learning -
The last blog article posted is dated 29 Jan 2011; however, the person who created this blog appears to have a lot of good information to share about ID.  The most recent blog post is titled “The New Age Instructional Designer” and is a really good read.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog -
I like this blog because it provides some great information on E-Learning, which is definitely one of my interests.  It provides information on the basics of E-learning (Rapid E-Learning 101) as well as tips on instructional design, managing E-Learning projects, and video and graphic presentation tips.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Welcome Walden University classmates!  Like many others in this class, this is my very first blog.  I am actually very excited about this project as I have always wanted to try my hand at "blogging," but I have never found the time.  I look forward to reading everyone's feedback.