I have an average memory. I mean, it’s OK but it’s nothing special. I can remember birthdays and I can quote whole chunks of Eddie Izzard routines but I do tend to forget things. I’m bad at remembering hardware specs and prices. I often forget the web address of that great site I just saw in a teachers magazine.
So my memory needs a little help sometimes. Luckily technology can help me. In the form of my mobile phone.
I don’t always have a pen or a piece of paper with me. or if I have written it down I may not have that bit of paper on me when I need it. But I always have my phone with me. Which means I always have a camera with me. And this is where it can really help.
I see a web address in an article or on a poster that looks interesting. Simple, I get out my phone and I take a photograph of it. I see a new digital camera in a store and I want to go home and check out the reviews and price-compare online. Easy, I just take a photo of the shelf label and look it up when I get home. Most modern phone cameras act as pretty good document cameras.
A domestic example; I need to buy some more washing and proofing products for my Ski gear to get it ready for next season. I always get mixed up which products we need. So I took a photo of the bottles. Next time I find myself in a ski store I can just look up the image on my phone and buy the right products. The chances are that any piece of paper will have long been lost by the time I end up in a store.
The camera in my phone acts as a memory enhancer. I’m quite a visual learner and I need visual reminders. I could type things into my phone too, although I find that can be slower than a photo. I do make use of the Notes feature in Outlook (which syncs to my phone) for longer notes and reminders of work-related addresses and passwords.
There are other features in the phone that I could also use – the voice memo feature for example, but I haven’t made much use of that yet. And there are many web2.0 sites like Remember the Milk etc that can help with to-do lists if you want to take it to another level.
I do try and remember these things normally too. I don’t see myself as a slave to my phone. But the technology helps to make my life just that little bit easier. And prevents our kitchen filling up with uneeded products!
How could we harness some of this in the classoom? As a science teacher, I can see ways we could use them in the science lesson. Want kids to remember the apparatus set up? Easy, take a photograph of it. Maybe take a video of the trolley going down the ramp or the weights on the spring. Use the voice memo to record the results as they read them out. Get them to add important dates such as coursework deadlines or homework into the calendar of the phone.
Some kids could aid their revision by using their PC to record themselves reading out important facts they need to know for their exams. They can put it onto their phone/iPod as an MP3 file and listen to it on the way to and from school….
An extreme example maybe, but some students could benefit from taking a new look at the computing power they routinely carry in their pockets.
The Internet itself also acts as a way for me to extend (and share) my memory. I use my del.icio.us feed to add websites that I want to remember. Tags help me search for them later. If I have found a good website that I haven’t got a lot of time to look at, I can add it to del.ico.us and then access it later on when I have more time. I may not be on the same computer or even in the same location, so a standard bookmark isn’t going to help.
On training days, I am often asked for lists of good websites. I used to do this in Word. But you can guarantee that as soon as you print it off you find several more you could have added. Dynamic bookmark lists such as del.ico.us or Diig means I can share the lists with people and know they have the most recent version. Tags mean I can direct trainees on my whiteboard days to http://del.icio.us/dannynic/iwb and my PGCE students to http://del.icio.us/dannynic/pgce.
Similarly I use my blog and forum as a brain dump. Many posts are morefor my benefit than for my readers. It’s nice to share though, so if others also find the links useful then that’s great.
So taking this all into account I actually have a very good memory. But it’s not all inside my head!