Saturday, 17 January 2015

Learn to learn: tools for selfdevelopment

Today's post is going to be devoted to tools that I use to develop my skills and abilities: both personal and professional.
The idea to write a post on that topic belongs to The Teacher of The Year contest organizers at Unium. It's one of the topics we are supposed to wirte on as the second challenge on that competition. So I decided to make this post useful for everybody and provide some great apps I've been using to have fun and improve my skills.

Selfdevelopment tools, sites and apps

  • Lumosity. This is probably the most famous one of all. It's an application that provides games to train the following skills: memory, speed, attention, flexibility, problem solving. There are two versions: free and pro. At the very beginning you are offered a test to check you attention, speed and memmory on the basis of which (+on the basis of a short survey on what skills you want to imrove) your personal training programm will be developed. In free version 3 games a day are provided; you can play them as many times a day as you wish. In pro version 5 games a day are recomended for you to play (based on your goals and first test results), but you have constant access to all the 40+ games that actualy exist in this program. In both versions you can set training remainders so that your device will remind you once a day to do the brain workout. At every point of the app usage you can go to the My brain page and see your LPI (Lumosity performance index) - picture on the right. However comparing your LPI with other users' is only available in the pro version. The app suggests training 3-5 days a week. Besides the actual games you receive quite interasting articles on how the brain work issues once in a while. Available for iOS, Android, Windows and also at the original website.

As for my personal comment on this app, I must say that it's fun! Games are really nice, interactive, quick and colourful. You get scores every time and have separate record tracking for each game so that you can always see your progress. In my University group we all have this app and from time to time compare our LPIs. I would definitely recommend to give it a try, especially since the free version provides so many opportunities and you don't need to pay any money to train your brain regularly.
  • Elevate. This is another personalized brain trainer which however aims at a bit different skills and abilities: speaking, writing, reading, listening, math. Those are rather channels through which you give and receive information. There are about 25 activities overall that help you to develop the most necessary skills. At the beginning you are asked about the skills you would like to improve. Then a special training programed is developed for you. Each day you are given a chance to train three of the skills via playing interactive games. You also have milestones which are fun to reach aand make your training process more interactive. This app suggests training at least 4 days a week to get the best results. Ranking is also available in pro version which can be easily purchased. Available for iOS, Android and also at the original website.
Writing about my personal usage experiance I must say that first of all it's a great tool for English teachers and students. Not only is it listening that's trained (well obviously, cuz the app is American) during the process, but also spelling, grammar and vocab range! Which istruly amazing! I'm definitely going to "advertise" this app to my students next semester (as they are going to be Intermediate now;). Interface is very nice, activities are challenging, interactive ad interesting, It is definitely worth trying.
  • Brain+. This app is focused on such skills as memory, problem solving and attention. There several sections: Brain Profile page, where you have both overall results and separate skills results measured in BP (brain points); Brain Coach explains how Brain+ will help you to improve and developed (very interestinng to listen to this info); Science - a great collection of articles on how the provided games develop your brain, on how brains work and general and so on; Training, where you actually play games. Available for iOS and also at the original website.
As I have just started usinf this application, there is not much that I can say, but so far my experince has been nice and brightful. I really like the science section, where a lot of info is provided. It's nice not only to lear stuff about brain but also find some new vocabulary as I'm not a native English speaker.
  • TED. I think this site doesn't really need any presentation. Great source not only of educational videos on a vide range of topics, but also a very nice resource for me as an English teacher - to show some pieces or some shorter videos to my students to do some tasks. As most of the lecturers who make videos for TED are great preformers, their speech is usualy eloquent, well-structured and pronanciation is quite easy to figure out. That's probably all I'll say about TED. You should definitely check it out if you don't know this resource yet.
I very sincerely hope that at laest some of this info will prove useful to you :)

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