Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A New Way to Learn by Encouraging Cognitive Development

This is an exciting time for the field of education. Over the past two decades we have witnessed an explosive growth in information. The amount of new technical information is doubling every two years. We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist and to use technologies that haven't been invented. Finally, we are starting to see educational techniques that are catching up to this new wealth of knowledge and Scientific Learning is leading the charge.

What does this all mean? Well for starters it means that every child should focus on the core cognitive skills that enable them to develop a more efficient brain. It means thinking about the brain as a muscle that must be exercised on a consistent basis and how “brain plasticity” can help a child to learn more efficiently. It means that we must think beyond preparing students to be great test takers and instead prepare them to be great thinkers and creative problem solvers.

On April 25th, “The New Science of Learning: Brain Fitness for Kids” will air locally on KQED Public Television 9 at 7 p.m. For more on the advances being made in brain plasticity (check it out at The approach is a refreshing new way to look at educational development. Education is about problem solving, innovation and creativity, yet we don't have methodologies to teach children these skills. We can, however, train the brain to process information the same way we train legs to run a race or fingers to play the piano. We can create actual physical changes in the brain that result in quick and substantial gains in language and reading skills by improving cognitive skills.

The program features the latest information from scientists and researchers around the country. The program also features science and technology from Scientific Learning (, including the newly launched BrainSpark Learning consumer offering. Scientific Learning has engineered products based on more than 30 years of research on how the brain learns. Their BrainSpark online learning programs were created from the Fast ForWord® family of products, which have been used in more than 5,200 schools across the country. Designed for children ages 5 to 13, the BrainSpark exercises are designed to produce lasting improvements in brain fitness, focusing on five cognitive building blocks critical to learning success: speed, processing rate, attention, recall and memory, and knowledge (SPARK).

The BrainSpark Learning software accelerates learning by developing the child’s brain to process more efficiently. These products are designed to be fun and engaging and are intended to be used 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The software is designed to provide feedback and put parents in control of the child's learning. The BrainSpark product is a tool for supporting and motivating children to reach their full potential while creating a foundation for a better mind.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Musical Success In A Post Record Label World

Trent Reznor of NIN talks about monetizing creativity as a musician post record label.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pyschology of Connection

The psychology of buying fascinates me, especially when it's based on making connections through touch. Our curiosity might get us in trouble but just think about all those connections we're making.

I grew up with family members who shopped as a hobby and realize how shopping is ingrained in our culture. Like it or not, it's how some of us find satisfaction, occupy our time and fund other parts of our culture.
My father and I always laughed at our efforts to outsmart commercials and long before DVR we would talk about how the mute button was destroying advertising. How ironic now that I'm a brand strategist. It's even a little sad that now I'm blogging about my favorite spots. My only hope is that I can evolve what used to bore me. If advertising is here to stay, why not design stories that are engaging and entertaining. With that in mind here are a few ways to communicate better.

This article in Time discusses how touching an object creates a relationship and makes you more likely to buy it. The phenomenon is based on research of the "endowment effect", which states that owning an object creates more value in the mind of a consumer. This is based on the premise that touching an object makes you feel more connected to it. This segues nicely into another article, designing to sell, which lists successful user experience techniques. More specifically they talk about trials as some of the best strategies to lure customers. In an online world we can't always touch a product but we can create an experience that is as close to touching it as possible.

As online selling continues to evolve I think we're going to start seeing techniques for developing a connection. Right now that may mean more pictures, or techniques to create a deeper level of engagement and interaction. In the future it may mean using a holographic projector create a 3 dimensional replica on your desk. It would be great to experience a product by visualizing it as if it really existed