In the training profession, we need to know as much as we can about how the brain functions—to help us help our students be more successful. On this count, Brain.com is worth a visit. It’s not just a place to learn about adult learning theory or get an activity, an exercise, or a CGI script. It’s a place where we can go for more fundamental professional development.
In addition, if your organization is developing or has developed an internal learning portal, Brain.com might well be a nice resource link. Or if your learning center offers a variety of Computer-Based Training (CBT)/Web-Based Training (WBT) courses, and you would like to give people a break or a chance for some quick personal insight, the site’s many tests might be a good fit for you.
Here’s the site’s stated mission: “Brain.com is the Internet destination for all those interested in the brain and brain health and fitness. As we end what was officially designated the ‘Decade of the Brain,’ it's clear that knowledge about the brain is increasing at a rapid pace. The Internet makes vast amounts of information accessible, but offers little or no help in compiling it and making sense of it all. By providing education, empowerment, and improvement, brain.com will provide focus and access to the advances in our knowledge about the brain.”
That’s a long mission—and I’d sum it up by calling Brain.com a “brain portal.” While your job description probably doesn’t include understanding how the brain works and keeping up with advances in this area, you do need to understand the brain and how people learn in order to both design and deliver highly effective training. Brain.com can help you keep up-to-date.
When you think portal, you think big, and that’s the case at Brain.com. The major content areas each contain articles (called features) and news stories. These content areas fall into two sections: Brain Topics, and Diseases and Conditions. The Brain Topics section, the one of direct interest to us as training and learning professionals, includes:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Brain 101
- Brain Health & Fitness
- Brain Regeneration
- Diet and Nutrition
- IQ and Intelligence
- Mind/Body Connection
- Peak Performance
- Stress and Relaxation
- The Child's Brain
As you can see, there are many areas here that you can use in your work. The areas that most directly apply to design of online or classroom learning, as well as to the design of a learning environment, are Peak Performance, Stress and Relaxation, the Mind/Body connection, Memory, and Brain 101.
Test your brain here
Along with the research and information available in the sections described above, the site has a nice “coolness” factor in the “Test My Brain” section. Here you will find a variety of free tests. These include:
- A three-minute memory test
- A five-minute IQ test
- A three-minute athletic and gaming reflex test
- A three-minute attention test
- A three-minute brain performance (thinking) test
A number of new tests are listed as coming soon, including a longer IQ test, a wisdom test, a mood test, an EQ (Emotional Quotient) test, and others. To take any of the tests, you must first download some software to your PC. The process for this download is easy, and you are provided clear instructions.
I took the brain performance test and found it to be fun and somewhat enlightening; although, I thought there could have been more “debrief” on a score and how to adapt or improve on that score. Interestingly, the more demographic data you put in, the more different groups you can compare yourself to.
These tests, while a bit of diversion, are worthwhile for those in the training profession. They provide an opportunity to reflect on differences in learning style and aptitude and how those differences can affect a learning event. After seeing my results on the “thinking” test, I questioned the validity of my assumptions about teaching complex topics. Do I give enough time for people to really get it? Do I use the more proficient or advanced students to improve the learning for everyone else? These are but a few of the questions that occurred to me after taking a seemingly “simple” test on the site.
Brain.com is a big site, with lots of information and some fun tools. At the same time, it could be more comprehensive, and I hope when I visit next I will find that it is. Good Web sites are always a work in progress. This one has enough information and fun stuff to help me stay awhile and bring me back.
I recommend this site if you want to build on your fundamental knowledge of the brain and how its health impacts performance. I also recommend the site’s many tests, as they can be used as a nice and interesting break during training. Next week’s review will be more immediately useful, as many in the past have been. But for this week, take a click and explore a core component of our profession.
Kevin Eikenberry is President of the Discian Group , a learning consulting company in Indianapolis. To comment on this review, or to recommend a great site for trainers, please follow this link to write to Kevin .