The Brain and Learning… and Forgetting…

10 Mar

Technology and Instructional Design for Elders

Although “Brain Based Research and Learning Studies,” may, or may not, be able to drastically improve the way that Instructional Designers share information in a way that improves learning for an average student, it may have dramatic effects on the way that science and communication can benefit those who are suffering from chemical or electrical dysfunctions in the brain, learning and memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Let’s face it.  Students and adults spend a lot of their lives trying to learn things, both valuable and trivial, and trying to make what they have learned, stick in their memories, and be available for recall.  But many of the older adult “students” that I work with as an Activity Specialist are eager to learn, recall facts, quiz themselves, and study new things, but fear the deterioration of their brain and memory more than the fear Cancer.  Why?  Because most of my Elder Students all have friends who have survived cancers, heart attacks, kidney transplants and broken hips… but loathe the loss of the irreplaceable organ that might one day face “Dementia” or “Alzheimer’s” or “Old Timer’s  Disease,” causing them to forget everything that has ever mattered to them in their lives.

Dementia Weekly:  is a simply written Article/Blog Post that highlights current brain research in memory and memory loss, as well as current treatments, and pays equal fairness to “popular remedies,” being marketed to the Dementia Demographic.   So where does Instructional Design fit into this picture:  in the advent of new technology, the field of APPS for the Elderly and Memory Impaired is wide open for development!  The intuitiveness of a touch tablet is not lost on the aged, yet a youthful designer demographic is simply unfamiliar with the unique challenges and needs of the memory impaired, which Technology, APPS, Memory Lessons, and even basic “reminder” tools could assist.  For those who have loved ones with memory impairments, Instructional Design and “APPS for the Elderly” my be the missing “remedy” in the current “Memory Medicine” cabinet.

In a recent NewsMania Health article:  brain research is showing that there is significant value in learning by methods other than quizzing:  “Older people assimilate better if they learn new information by a “strenuous” method (based on trial / error) than by an easier one (question followed by the correct answer), according to a study published Wednesday in the Canadian journal Psychology and Aging.”  This contradicts previous assumptions and publications.  Such “Brain Based Learning Research,” can, therefore, have a progressive impact on the way that learning and “Memory-Maintenance” materials may begin to be created using Technology and Instructional Design tools and methods. 

What might this research be teaching us?  That maybe, our human brains are biologically wired to help us stay safe and live longer… based on the experience we have gained from the lives we have lived, not just from the facts we studied in school, or the dates and details we can’t seem to recall.  So, it’s never too late to learn new things… and, don’t worry if you make a mistake or two along the way… it might help to save your life!

Eileen Callejas, MA, AC, MBA

Eileen is a Consultant to Activity and Recreation Directors, who work with elderly and disabled persons,Through her business:  123 Key Concepts Consulting, Inc.  Phone:  407-234-4768   E-mial:

Eileen is also the founder of, which supports arts and technology education & volunteer activities for elderly, disabled, and homeless persons living in care facilities.

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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Uncategorized


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