EET Article (Mirror Neurons and Training for Sports)
Class: EDTEC 561
In EDTEC 561, we were asked to create an article for the Encyclopedia of Educational Technology. Prior to starting this project, I read a fascinating article about mirror neurons on the discussion board in my EDTEC 544 class. I decided to create an encyclopedia article that combined a few of my passions: technology, coaching, and sports. I first started by researching mirror neurons and then by researching mirror neurons in relation to sports and performance. After finding a few helpful scientific journals, I had to figure out a way to present the information in an educational manner, but without the extraneous technical scientific terms that were distracting and unnecessary. I also had to think of ways to supplement the information in the article with graphics.
My main goal in this project was to educate coaches and athletic trainers about the benefits of mirror neurons in relation to training for sports. I was on the Track and Field team at UC San Diego and we spent twenty minutes every week watching videos for our event. However, we also practiced for twenty hours each week. I believe that if our track coaches knew how effective mirror neurons were for sports training, then our team would have had a lot less overuse injuries and higher performance levels at competitions. In order to educate coaches and athletic trainers, I worked hard to make sure that the text and imagery concurrently presented information about how mirror neurons work in the body and help with performance. Communicating clearly was a key focus for this project. I did not want to create images that detracted from the words and I also wanted to make sure that the information was understandable.
Problems and Opportunities:
The hardest part of this project was in the early stages: developing graphics that would supplement the text. I have always had trouble with the creative aspects of design. Thinking about a creative way to portray an idea was challenging, so I gave myself extra time on the project to sketch out a variety of ideas. I finally decided upon three animations that would help supplement the text and I added the animations into my storyboard. Once I was able to design a storyboard for each graphic, it was easy to turn the graphics into animations. Researching was also more difficult than I had expected. While there are a lot of articles on mirror neurons, there are very few articles and studies that have connected mirror neurons and their affects on performance. With the discovery of mirror neurons in the early 1990’s, the information available is limited. I had to base most of my article on the two articles about mirror neurons and performance. One of the articles was based on an actual study, while the other article was more informative and included a broad range of benefits of mirror neurons. When I work on future projects, it would be helpful to do more research, especially on scientific studies, before deciding on a topic.
This project helped improve my skills in a variety of areas: technical, research, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. It was very fascinating to take one of my greatest passions (sports) and connect it with educational technology. When I finished this project, I was able to send the article to friends, family, coaches, athletes and co-workers. Everyone who responded found the information very useful and only one of the many respondents had actually heard of mirror neurons. I believe that I successfully achieved my goal of educating people about mirror neurons.
Field of Educational Technology:
This article, as a part of the Encyclopedia of Educational Technology, will be a great project to put on my resume. This project has given me experience as a technical writer, designer, and developer. It is a very professional piece that I plan on sharing with my future employers.