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Blog Watch: Learning Methods In Professional Communications

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June 28, 2010 (FinancialWire) (Investrend Forums Syndicate) (By Bud Burrell) -- For our readers with an interest in equities such as the WisdomTree International Communications Sector ETF (NYSE: DGG), the Internet HOLDRS ETF (AMEX: HHH), the B2B HOLDRS ETF (AMEX: BHH) and the iShares S&P Global Telecom ETF (NYSE: IXP), here's some related commentary from FinancialWire(tm) contributor, Bud Burrell:

Since I got out of the Army, I have spent a good part of my career educating non-technical professionals about complex financial products and portfolio strategies. I found many things of interest about the process of doing this effectively, and in particular, it gave me early insights into the value of what I had learned in K through 12, and what this would mean ultimately to online education via computers.

I found early on that my first task had to be to break down the ideas into words that meant something to the audience. Like many technical spaces, the industry adopted the use of professional terms that had to be described meaningfully to potential end users. Indeed, my first great breakthrough occurred when I realized that my industry had lost sight of who the real end client was.

I had noted with interest the efforts of early online educators to use the lessons of teaching mathematics as a guide. I particularly remember the efforts of a Math Professor from the Air Force Academy to develop an integrated line of math teaching school books which put tremendous emphasis on the power of review and repetition in every lesson, beginning with first year Algebra. He was attacked for the repetitive methodology by the mandarins of teaching, who saw his methods to be not true teaching, irrespective of the repeated fact that his students consistently scored much higher on standardized tests than did those not using his textbooks.

I used repetition in my seminars, always reviewing prior lessons and contacts both before and after my lesson plans. I use this even today to explain some concepts to non-technical professionals in finance particularly.

Early on, I became involved with the growing design of the Internet, including the patents and rules used as early as 1982. By 1985, I was working regularly on adopting high level engineering work station computing power to handle complex finance applications in securitization and portfolio management, and also for AI applications. At the same time, I knew that as computing power continued to explode, professionals with skills that didn't exist then would have to clone themselves at a pretty high rate, or the markets would run into a log jam effect. I saw a very innovative K through 12 educational software developer in Provo, and I led them to an advanced manufacturer of engineering work stations, resulting in a strategic partnership between the two companies.

Skipping forward some years, others acted on the ideas for online education through the graduate school levels, for courses in particular with science and creative foci. Today, there has been an explosion in the power and effectiveness of online educational tools, for student 2 to 70. I have seen the teaching methodology used by the language software company Rosetta Stone used to teach infant and toddlers to read even before they can speak effectively. Some of those children are able to achieve reading skills by the age of 6 years that are the equal of the national average 6th grader, who is typically 11 to 12 years old.

As I noted when I was young, early piano and musical instrument training produced higher IQ's in huge samples, not of 5 to 10 points, but of 40 points, something that should never be capable of being ignored. Indeed, it was shown that music was both a math and language skill, which magnified the building of neural networks in the brains of children at an incredible rate, matching in many cases the intellectual advantages of children raised using "tonal" ideogram based languages, such as Mandarin Chinese, Thai, Hindi, and more.

An online educational institution started here in Phoenix a couple of decades ago is now the largest educational institution in the US, the University of Phoenix, with over 500,000 students studying material ranging all the way from high school math to post graduate medical and science material.

I know of no major figures who saw this coming at this rate, and I can further state that I know of no one who can challenge the future reach of this technology globally.

How can each of you benefit from this growing adaptation of patterned repetitive reinforcement based teaching?

I would say that from an intense personal experience which certainly spans this country and much of the modern World, we need always emphasize review of prior lessons learned when moving forward with new efforts. As much as 60% of every new lesson should be spent reviewing previously covered material. This pattern process is absolutely able to be characterized by a contrarian view to "It's different this time." How? It is never is.

A brilliant Wall Streeter attributed his many years on Wall Street to teaching him this lesson in graphics. He would repeat it like an inverted mantra. He was one not to suffer fools or geniuses lightly, damning both frequently for making the same kinds of errors in logic.

For those of you genuinely interested in helping your family, children, and friends, introduce them to programs such as Your Baby Can Read, or to the learning of a tonal language such as Mandarin via the Rosetta Stone program. These programs use images of objects (the way Mandarin is written) to accelerate the learning and memorization not only of words, but their structure, spelling and meaning. Such teaching methods can wire new neural nets in the brains of those exposed to it, and re-wire old harnesses that have weakened with age, stress or other toxic exposure.

There is the old saying that you only start to die when you stop learning. The good news is you can make it a lot more fun with a much bigger payoff for a lot less effort today, thanks to the visionary work of some great minds many years ago.

That should remind you of the story of how this Country and its values came into being. A very small and highly intelligent group of literati here in the 1700's came up with an idea for a republic that could survive if it didn't destroy itself. This handful of no more than 200 men and leaders backed by less than 10% of the population freed this country from the most powerful empire in the World at the time, when every "informed" person in the world would have bet against them, except with their hearts.

I remember one of the key lessons taught in kindergarten was to share. We do that like no country in the world. If you want to see this country survive, you must do the same, and give of your time and your minds to preserve our history. That will only happen if we continue to respect a dynamic learning environment, in which measured results are the only thing that matters significantly. If our population can't or won't read, can't or won't continue to develop respect for the individual, then we are doomed. Things may already have been done that will kill this country's vitality and imagination. If so, remember this when you reach out in our next lives. We are blessed.

Source: Investrend Weblogs (

(Go to for other recent commentaries by Bud Burrell.)

Bud Burrell's experience spans a diverse spectrum, including service with the U.S. Military in the Special Forces, as a Finance Officer and as a Project Finance & Accounting Officer. Burrell also pursued studies in fine arts, the Renaissance, Russian history, and Chinese culture. Following years of working on Wall Street, he worked with specialty and derivative money management consulting and research and development in IT and AI. Since then, Burrell has worked globally with major development stage companies from the IT, energy, alternative energy, bio-pharma, and general technology arenas, as well as on counterfeiting and financial fraud scandals.

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