New Learning and Website Design

I have written about the contest (the Open Air Rally) that I am participating in through Knowbility to make my website accessible.

We are in the final two weeks of the competition.  Its very exciting.

I had a great meeting with my talented and knowledgeable development team Team AxIS from Cognitive Interactive with my team leader Antonia and the lead developer Krishna and with my esteemed team adviser Joseph O’Connor on Wednesday night last week.

(I would put Antonia and Krishna’s last name here, but I am unfamiliar with the order of names in there native culture in India and I will have to get their input about which of their many names I need to use to properly get their full name correctly.)

It was great meeting because I understood so much more about what my team was thinking about and doing to build the site I wanted.   And I felt really supported.   And I felt like I could fly almost.  (More on this later)

Then the next evening, I went to the “Pit Rally” at Knowbility where I got to ask questions of one of the judges for the competition, Elle Waters, and hear answers from her as well as members of the Knowbility team including Sharron Rush< Jessica Looney, and Bill Corrigan as well as friends of the Knowbility  team including Glenda Sims from Denque.   I also met Robbi Cooper (of Decoding Dyslexia) who leads another team in the competition and had a fascinating conversation with her about dyslexia and her mission.

Between the team meeting and the Knowbility event and all the interesting conversations and increased tasks preparing for Christmas and my son’s birthday and my son getting sick, my head is exploding with ideas.   In a good way.

I can literally feel new neural pathways growing in my head, an experience that I have had alot this fall.   I believe the sensation I experience of my brain reorganizing and being able to take in more information and organize it better is neuroplasticity.

But I am also really aware that with all the input and stimulation I have received that I have to work to help my brain organize that information.

You see, after my brain injury, my new learning is slow.

I don’t know how slow it is, but I do know that it is much slower than it used to be pre-injury.

And I know that what that means is that anything I can do to enhance and improve my ability to process information will help me.

How have I learned to enhance my own new learning?

This is not going to surprise anyone, once they think about it, but I write.

Just like anyone else, writing helps me figure out how to organize the information.  It helps me figure out the topic sentence (a skill I learned in third grade but one I had to relearn in rehabilitation.)

So learning to write my thoughts after brain injury has been a skill I have worked hard on.

Writing helps me get the information INTO my head, so if I cannot take notes to help get ideas into my head, then I need to write things down as soon after I experience them as possible to help me organize my thoughts.

And it helps me organize my thoughts on paper (or on the computer) so that I can get them in my head in a more organized fashion.

And then when I can organize the input, I can learn it and I can apply it.

One more thing about all this input I got by talking to my team and advisor and talking with accessibility experts.

I have learned with my brain injury that when I get a lot of information in, and I cannot organize it, I cannot sleep.

Since I know that sleep is really important to help me consolidate memories and hence learn from them,  I work hard to make sure I can get appropriate sleep.

Well, Thursday night after the meeting at Knowbility, I woke up at 3 in the morning.

My brain was wide awake.  I knew that I had taken in two much information in an unorganized fashion (again from experience) and that I needed to do what ever I could to enhance the organization so that I could make the most out of getting as much sleep as I could.

So I wrote my team in India and my team in California and my husband who was able to sleep some fairly unorganized thoughts to help my brain process all the new learning.   This helps me process and reduces my my delayed processing cognitive issues.   If I can improve my ability to process, then I can speed up my learning curve.

And what I learned from all my processing was the aha! moment.

What do I want from my website?

I want a design, color and logo simple enough that others with my kind of brain injury are able to process well enough on it to learn from the information on it!

Return to learn!  That is what people with brain injury want.  They want to be able to learn again too.

And this goal of wanting to learn from websites is also the goal of most people who seek information on websites.

“We just want to be able to learn like everyone else”.

And I am reminded by the story that an accessibility expert told at the Accessbility Conference I attended in Septemeber.

A person seeking accessibility was told “everyone is frustrated by websites”

And the person seeking increased accessability said , “I just want to be frustrated just as much as everyone else is”


How do I know I have a slow learning curve?

Because when I was young I played a game with my family where you arranged four marbles of different colors in a pattern. ( I will have to find the name of this game, because I cannot remember it.)  The game player is not allowed to see the pattern, but guesses what the pattern is.   The opponent gives the game player feedback on her guess by putting pegs in after each round to give the player feedback about the color and order for the pattern.

One color peg gives the feedback that the player has put a marble with the right color in the right spot.

Another color peg give the feedback that the player has put a marble with the right color in the row, but its not in the right spot.

When I was in rehabilitation at Mt Vernon Hospital in Alexandria Virginia I got to play this game again on the computer.

As a ten year old, I could solve the code in 6 or 7 steps usually, sometimes 8 or maybe 9 at most, and sometimes in 5 if I was lucky with my first guess.  Or so I remember it, anyway.

The first time I played this game in rehab, it took me 30 steps to solve.

Many tears followed to see the change in my learning curve so tangibly on the computer.

I practiced over and over to get the number of steps down to around 20.

It been helpful to be aware of my slowed learning curve, as it helps me compensate.

I imagine it would take less than  20 steps now, but I haven’t had the opportunity to measure it again.


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