I had completed a different version of this blog this morning and all ready to go….then suddenly, in the middle of breakfast preparation a light bulb went on! My goodness–the brain is the Ultimate Project Manager of the human body! And so, I completely re-wrote my blog. It just goes to show you that the brain is constantly adjusting to find the best possible method to respond to a given situation. I hope you find this blog informative.
The role of a Project Manager is to ensure an assigned project is completed on time, within budget (rarely happens by the way), and within a specified timeframe. PMBOK – A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (2008). Likewise, our brain’s function is to ensure all stimuli received are responded to accordingly. Just FYI – I am also a Project Manager (PMP).
There are five main process groups in Project Management and I have attempted to explain them in parallel to the brain’s functions.
Initiation – this is the beginning of a project—someone (the sponsor) says, “Let’s do this.” I equate this stage to a stimuli the brain receives (for example, a person/body going outside in the winter without adequate clothing and feeling cold).
Planning – at this stage the Project Manager along with stakeholders of the project figure out what needs to be done and by whom. The brain at this stage figures out who (Neurons, Synapses, Glial Cells, for example) would carry what signals to alert the body/person that he/she needs to take action to combat the cold.
Implementation/Execution – this is the stage where all the work/tasks to complete the project are actually performed. The brain at this stage is executing the necessary functions to prevent the body from freezing to death–the person/body is in the process of putting on a sweater, a coat, gloves, etc.
Monitoring/Controlling – the Project Manager basically ensures no one is “slacking off”. The brain at this stage ensures all parts are functioning according to specifications, so that the person/body has taken steps and will not freeze to death.
Closing – here the Project Manager says, “I’m done. Here’s your project. Let’s go on to the next one.” This is also the stage where “lessons learned” are documented so they are not repeated in future projects. The brain also says, “You’re warm. Next time around you know what to do to protect yourself from getting cold.”
Whereas a Project Manager, can only manage a handful of projects simultaneously, the brain manages thousands (perhaps more) projects (tasks) simultaneously to ensure we survive….it’s just Wow! Further investigation on the topic of learning and the brain, led me to the websites below that I thought are worth sharing.
A directory of links to learning and the brain, and cognitive information processing theory – The website, Educational Psychology Interactive – Dr. William G. (Bill) Huitt is a directory to Educational Psychology links. The materials are categorized into four sections: Websites, Readings, Videos, and Topics. Selecting anyone of these options will display the directory page from where you can select the topic you want to explore. For example, under Websites, it lists websites organized by topics, such as “Introduction to Education” and lists the website links for that subject. Furthermore, that same subject is listed under Readings, and Videos. For example, “Introduction to Education” has a website section, readings section, and videos section. You can select whichever means works for you. As the name Educational Psychology implies, the site contains a multitude of links to education and learning. It’s not fancy but I like it and will continue to use this website throughout my Learning Theories and Instruction course. I hope you find it useful as well.
Sharing knowledge is a beautiful thing. And that is why I love TED – Ideas worth spreading. This website is “a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.” Subject matter experts present their ideas on “Technology, Entertainment, Design.” I like this website because it is a place of collaboration among people from all over the world, sharing knowledge that they believe is “worth spreading”. For our topic this week, I found three presenters, on the website, whose ideas are definitely “worth spreading”. Enjoy!
- Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight. “Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions — motion, speech, self-awareness — shut down one by one. An astonishing story.” More about Jill….
- Clay Shirky: How cognitive surplus will change the world. “Clay Shirky’s work focuses on the rising usefulness of decentralized technologies such as peer-to-peer, wireless networks, social software and open-source development.” Clay Shirky’s full biography.
- Jeff Hawkins on how brain science will change computing. “Jeff Hawkins pioneered the development of PDAs such as the Palm and Treo. Now he’s trying to understand how the human brain really works, and adapt its method — which he describes as a deep system for storing memory — to create new kinds of computers and tools.” Jeff Hawkins’ full biography.
Brain Rules by John Medina – Dr. “John Medina, author of “Brain Rules” and “Brain Rules for Baby,” is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant. He is an affiliate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He is also the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University. Dr. Medina’s complete profile.
This site is simple and uncluttered in design. Dr. Medina provides brief and simple audio, text, and video descriptions of his “Brain Rules”. His Rules touch upon factors that affect our Brain and gives advice on caring for our Brains. The website also contains Dr. Medina’s blogs that are relevant to the Brain. I find this website useful for the blog content and the videos. You might want to check it out too.
Thank you for reading and I look forward to your comments.
Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning Theories and Instruction (Laureate custom edition). (2009). Chap. 2, “Learning and the Brain” (pp. 27–36 and 45–46). Chapter 3, “Cognitive Information Processing Theory”. New York: Pearson
A guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: PMBOK Guide. 4th ed. Project Management Institute, Inc. Newton Square, PA