From Reading to Changing How We Perceive, Think, Feel and Act

One of the biggest challenges we face in learning from text is that we process it in a dry, cognitive way. In other words, information processing (from knowledge resources) is highly cerebral. It involves language, reasoning, and relatively simple perception. Yet somehow we need to “compile” such very abstract information into low-level perception and motivation, so that we can use it to act. More generally, we need to program and connect very disparate areas of our mind.
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Why Use Potent Cognitive Tools —and How

Most of the information we process is digital. While the tools we use for learning are in some respects better than paper, in others they are worse. In this article, I claim that:

  • Progress is problem-driven
  • Most learning tools are cognitively impotent
  • Self-directed learners should use potent cognitive tools and do so in a manner that promotes their learning.

Continue reading Why Use Potent Cognitive Tools —and How

Arthur Balfour on The Benefits of Reading (1887)

There is so much information to choose from, and the demands on one’s time are so great, that selecting what to read (or, more generally, what resources to process) is amongst a knowledge worker’s most important skills. In Cognitive Productivity, I dedicate an entire chapter to the benefits of processing knowledge resources. Chapter 11 is dedicated to assessing knowledge resources. You may find it useful to consider these chapters in relation to Arthur Balfour’s position on these problems.

Continue reading Arthur Balfour on The Benefits of Reading (1887)

The Tenacity of Paper

Since 2001, I have been specifying the problems we face in learning with technology. I have been developing products—knowledge, software and services—to the cognitive-productivity challenges we face. The first draft of my first book on the subject is written. I am not giving up…

This video, however, provides an original view of the tenacity of paper. It suggests that people will not ditch paper. However, I believe it also demonstrates that people will ditch paper after they have put it to good use.

A Delphic Pronouncement Regarding Apple’s Upcoming Digital-Textbook Announcement

Over the last decade, I have been heavily involved in R&D to understand and address the requirements users should have when they attempt to learn from knowledge resources with technology. The major applications that are meant to support our reading and learning are still, for the most part, quite unsatisfactory. Yet users, young and old, in and out of academia, knowledge worker or not, specialist in e-learning or not, tend not to be very demanding of their cognitive productivity tools. Few seem to understand what we are all missing. I have disseminated some of the technical deficiencies publicly, some I have not. I have also of course been developing solutions to the core problems of learning with technology and cognitive science — workflows, documents, software, theories, etc. Continue reading A Delphic Pronouncement Regarding Apple’s Upcoming Digital-Textbook Announcement

7 + 1 tips for Learning in Order to Excel in 2012

Do your success and happiness depend on your reading and learning? If yes, then before you put the finishing touches on your goals and plan for 2012, you should ensure that you have satisfactorily considered your learning objectives. So please read on, as this post will help you develop Stephen Covey’s 7th habit, “Sharpen the Saw” (TM).
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Your Time and Your Cognitive Productivity

What would you do with the time freed up by applying the following technique? And what would you do with the additional expertise you would develop?

Identify the 30% of your reading time that provides you with the lowest return on your investment.

Take half of that time (15%) and put it towards something more important (your kids, your other projects).

Take the other half (15%) and put it towards productively reading documents that will extend your excellence.

You may be wondering about these concepts: “Return on reading investment? Productive reading? Extending my excellence?” Those are good, important questions. We have the answers.

Here’s a concept that may change your life: your cognitive productivity. That’s your effectiveness and efficiency in learning from information, so that as you learn you push the boundaries of your excellence. To be cognitively productive, you need to focus on potent information and process it well.

We will help you respond to the challenges and opportunities you face in being cognitively productive: Identifying and focusing on the most potent information, distilling it, learning what you choose to learn from it and applying it when you need to.

We leverage the most relevant findings and principles of cognitive science through our services (training, consulting, coaching) and upcoming publications and software. We help you use technology to help you learn the important stuff.

You have access to abundant information and sophisticated technology. We will help you leverage them to push the boundaries of your excellence.

How important, then, is your cognitive productivity?