John Medina gave the closing keynote at DevLearn, based upon his book Brain Rules. He covered two of his 12 rules, on memory, and on exercise. He spoke fast, was enthusiastic, funny, and knowledgeable. He talked about myths of learning, and said that he didn’t think there was a lot neuroscience had to say to learning design (thankfully, cf Willingham).
One of his points was that our brains evolved to provide ongoing performance guidance over hours of constant motion (evolutionarily). This leads to implications that are contrary to most of our learning contexts!
His first rule was about memory, and he covered the basic model of cognitive models of memory, but then pointed out that it’s about 10 years from initial exposure to fixed memory, and requires extensive repetition. During that period, distortion can occur. This explains the rule of thumb that you have to be doing something for 10 years before you can be considered an expert. It probably takes 10 years of doing things before they’re solidified in useful experience to apply.
The second rule he covered was the relation between exercise and learning. It was really exercise and thinking, and there’s a positive relationship. The difference between sedentary and moderately active lifestyles is big in terms of mental acuity. And reintroducing it for a reasonably short period (16 weeks) can reignite. Memory improvements take longer, like 3 years. It works for kids too, and if they stop, it drops off.
He made several observations how revising schools would work better, sadly too true. So, repeat if you need it to stick (a great opportunity for mobile learning), and do get exercise for your own health, and maybe have an organizational incentive as well! Here’s my concept map (it was hard as quick as he spoke, so didn’t get all the data):