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eHam Forums => CW => Topic started by: KB1WSY on January 07, 2014, 01:46:44 AM



Title: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 07, 2014, 01:46:44 AM
Greetings,

As I advance in my learning of Morse code, I have been deeply struck by how passionate people are about how a ham should learn the code.

A terminological statement: when I talk about Morse, I am referring to the code itself. I am *not* referring to all of the other things that are involved in "operating CW."

There are dozens of different opinions, but on the whole they are in two broad camps:

(1) The time-honored method. This involves learning the entire character set quickly, and then starting to copy and send, usually (but not always) at a relatively slow speed. Speed is then gradually increased. Farnsworth spacing may be used. Often, emphasis is placed on "getting on the air" and it is stated that this on-air experience is a key way (or some people maintain, the only way) to improve your Morse skills. In some versions of this method, "head copy" is stressed very early on, the emphasis being on recognizing entire words or phrases. How long does it take? Well, I suspect that you could be "on the air" almost within days, using this method (I hear evidence of this when monitoring CW on 40m!). How long does it take to become proficient at higher speeds? Presumably that depends on how much you operate. One variant of this method is to start people out at a relatively high speed, with strong emphasis on "head copy." Emphasis is also placed on learning with a "buddy" or learning in a club or classroom setting if possible.

(2) The "new" Koch method (it's not really new because it dates to the 1930s). In this method, you start at a relatively high speed such as 15wpm. Farnsworth spacing may be used. Initially you learn only two characters, and you do a random-character drill (usually 5 minutes). You go on doing these random-character drills until your code copying accuracy reaches 90 percent. The moment you reach 90 percent, a third character is introduced, and you again do random drills until you reach 90 percent accuracy. This process is repeated over and over until you've learned the entire character set of approximately 40 elements. Because the drills consist of random characters, "head copy" is pretty much out of the question -- and even if you did "head copy" them, you wouldn't be able to check your "score" because you wouldn't have written them down. "Getting on the air" early-on is also pretty much out of the question, because it's hard to conduct a QSO with an incomplete character set. How long does it take? Several weeks at the very least, and in many cases, several months, before being ready to go on the air. The Koch method is almost impossible to use unless you have access to computer software (which is one reason it didn't catch on until recently) and tends to be used in an "individual" setting with people learning on their own. "Buddy" or classroom learning seems less common. A summary of Koch's research can be found here: http://www.ukradioamateur.co.uk/extra/morse/html/c29.htm (http://www.ukradioamateur.co.uk/extra/morse/html/c29.htm).

Both "schools of thought" stress the importance of avoiding the buildup of a "visual table" of the dits and dahs in your head. Morse is learned purely as a series of sounds, and hearing the sound triggers the appearance of that Morse element (or of an entire word or phrase) in the brain. Indeed, the Koch method is being promoted largely because of claims that learning slow-speed code (anything below about 12wpm) is a bad idea because when Morse is sent slowly, it is actually possible to copy it through the "lookup table" rather than the sounds. At higher speeds, the "lookup table" method breaks down. Thus, the proponents of the Koch method claim that learning code at slow speed makes it much harder to progress to higher speed. Meanwhile the proponents of the older, non-Koch method claim that by getting on the air and starting out with slow code, you will progress naturally to higher speeds and they seem unconcerned about this notion of a "speed limit."

I have yet to "meet" anyone on these ham forums who is impartial on the issue of "how to learn the code." A lot of people give lip service to the notion that "each person is different and will have their own way of learning the code." However, in practice, almost all those who have learned the code seem to be convinced that the best method to learn the code is ... the method that they used, whether it was last month or 50 years ago.

My beef with all of this is that there just doesn't seem to be any impartial scientific evidence on "which method is best." Ludwig Koch has his detractors, but at least he was a scientist (a psychologist to be precise) and his method is grounded in certain notions of how the brain learns things. Similarly, Farnsworth had an insight that the code could be learned more easily by changing some spacing parameters during the learning process. But they lived a long time ago and there seems to have been little scientific progress since. You can read lots of wonderful anecdotes and tips in "The Art and Skill of Radiotelegraphy" but there's very little concrete science in there.

Yes I know that many people will say: "We know how to learn the code. We did it using such-and-such a method, and we successfully taught it using this method. Listen to the voice of experience. The Elmers are right."

I guess that because ham radio is a hobby, there's little academic interest in how Morse code should be learned. That's too bad. I really wish someone would do a proper study, starting out with no preconceptions. Because I also suspect that a lot of hams are wasting a lot of time: I think it is quite possible that one of the two main methods would be proven to be best, "hands down." Or perhaps, there would be some rational way to figure out which hams should use which method. I have lost track of the number of threads, here and on eHam, started by people asking "How should I learn the code?"

One last thought: quite a lot is riding on this. I have come across a lot of evidence, albeit anecdotal, that many people who try to learn the code eventually give up. Regardless of the method used, it takes a certain amount of effort, and people nowadays lead busy and stressful lives. If we want CW to continue to be a vibrant part of our hobby, it behooves us to give the best possible advice to all of those enthusiastic would-be CW operators.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: W1JKA on January 07, 2014, 04:00:27 AM
I believe the only (Scientific Evidence) you will find concerning Morse learning is in your statement "each person is different and will have their own way of learning the code". True some hams think their way was the best but most realize it's just the way it was taught and that's how they learned it, so called proper spacing/speed, head copy etc. came later with on air time. My learning experience was basic and fairly common for the time, Boy Scouts with flashing light and door bell buzzer, was this the best method at the time? I highly doubt it (Navy Radioman School would probably have been better) but again we didn't know any different and it worked for us. Those of us that went on to get our Novice licenses muddled through our first hundred contacts or so and gradually grew into passable CW ops. All Methods are just options if you are aware of them and have the time/incentive to try them all which again boils down to [which one works best for YOU]. I have enjoyed reading your post about your own method of Morse learning and particularly admire your tenacity in following it through.

 


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 07, 2014, 04:38:53 AM
I believe the only (Scientific Evidence) you will find concerning Morse learning is in your statement "each person is different and will have their own way of learning the code".

And that's the point I'm trying to make. I want some scientific evidence. Ours is a science-based hobby and yet the evidence we have concerning how the brain handles learning Morse code and which is the best method seems incomplete, partisan, wildly out-of-date and often purely anecdotal ("this is the right method because it worked for me/us"). Even the modern iconoclasts with their Koch method are basing their pedagogy on research that was done nearly 80 years ago!!!

Yes of course, each person will have their own way. But science should have a role too, at the very least in rejecting inefficient (or even, counter-productive) learning techniques. We know so much more about cognition and learning than we did in the mid-20th century!

Thank you for the encouragement by the way. I've been finding it very tough recently, so I need all the good wishes I can get!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: W1JKA on January 07, 2014, 09:04:11 AM
I think I get your point now. I don't know at what Scientific Evidence level you would call it but perhaps a reasonable answer may come from a current/former military Morse instructor Ham. The reason being that thousands of military CW ops in the past and to some extent currently had to pass some type of pre qualifying mental/dexterity tests/exams in order to get into the program. Obviously these tests/exams were based on some type of previous and ongoing research that best predicted a successful outcome. I have no idea of what these individual traits are that the military is looking for but they do and it has proven to be successful. My take anyway.


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 07, 2014, 09:28:11 AM
...perhaps a reasonable answer may come from a current/former military Morse instructor Ham.

Indeed. The military had a great incentive to train radiotelegraphers efficiently. In my Internet research, I even found a paper by the NSA (!) in which they tried to figure out which were the best "types" of people for learning the code.

The obverse of that coin however is that the military can get very set in its ways; and that arguably, trainees in those schools had such a strong disciplinary incentive to succeed, that they probably did rather better than a ham "hobbyist" even if they weren't using the most efficient method!

I have found that those making claims to have "the best method" sometimes couple their claim with a reference to the method having succeeded in training the military telegraphists. Why, there is just such a thread in this very forum right now.

The Koch method was apprently used by at least some of the German military services in the years leading up to World War II, although (according to my reading) this is not well documented.

It would be great if, somewhere in the billions of pages of government documents out there, it turned out that there was indeed some kind of comparative study of Morse methods!!



Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KE6EE on January 07, 2014, 10:23:54 AM
Martin: "One last thought: quite a lot is riding on this. I have come across a lot of evidence, albeit anecdotal, that many people who try to learn the code eventually give up. Regardless of the method used, it takes a certain amount of effort, and people nowadays lead busy and stressful lives. If we want CW to continue to be a vibrant part of our hobby, it behooves us to give the best possible advice to all of those enthusiastic would-be CW operators."

A few points:

1. Sufficient anecdotal evidence can become useful data. An anecdote is (at least) one data point.

2. There are at least two major areas of discussion here, which need to be distinguished from one another: a learning system or methods; the psychology of the person attempting to learn.

3. We can say this based on a great deal of information gathered about learning in the past: the method needs to be simple enough to be clearly understood by the learner and/or his mentor.

4. Long-term memory formation depends on several factors: repetition plain and simple; how clear-headed and focused the learner is when trying to learn; the need to break the learning process down into sections small enough to be digested in the time allowed for each episode of learning; the need for constant (eg daily) effort in order to progress; the need for ongoing review so that significant forgetting does not occur before the overall learning task is completed.

Attending carefully to #4 should allow for progress for most learners, provided there is fundamental aptitude/skill regarding ear and hand coordination, good hearing and what I would call a basic musical sensitivity.


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: G3XLG on January 07, 2014, 11:18:21 AM
Hi Martin
I can't claim to have read all of the posts in this thread but have looked in on it from time to time. I have also just read your post on the lack of scientific evidence concerning methodology for learning the code - I agree it would be good to have but suspect it aint gonner happen!
In my own experience, I'm afraid I learnt the code by rote, used a borrowed key & took my 12wpm test in 1968 after a few months learning. I was not proficient however and kind of learned it parrot fashion, probably counting dots & dashes at the time! I had joined a local club at the same time, but SSB was all the rage and no-one was pushing CW! So, a few years went by when I operated only on SSB, never even had a single CW QSO & then I went QRT for some 30 odd years!
In 2011 I became interested in amateur radio again & decided to get into CW this time, at the then age of 68. I found I could still just about remember most of the alphabet, I had forgotten the numbers & I had no recollection of punctuation or prosigns. After refreshing myself on the alphabet for half an hour or so I joined in a very slow morse beginners class at the Norwich club & found I could copy about 80% of the characters at about 5 or 6 wpm. That was the start............!
Over the next 12 months, I practised a max of 20 -30 mins a day, 5 days a week using various software programs you will no doubt be familiar with. I varied it a lot, as I got bored using just one method or one program & it definitely helped bringing a bit of competition into it by having a "morse buddy". He & I checked our progress weekly with the CW elmers at the club & found that we increased our speed by roughly 1wpm/month that first year.

When practicing I did most of my copying using plain language rather than code groups which also enabled the start of some simple word head copying eg. the, of, with etc.

So by early 2012 we were upto about 12 wpm copying, & decided we would then try some sending. We had a pretty good idea of what morse should sound like after countless hours of practice using computer generated morse. We went on 2 metres FM with low power, holding the microphone near the radio loud speaker! We did this to limit the number of people who might be listening to us on air! After a few weeks we then went on 80 metres for about 30 minutes/day 3 0r 4 days/week, again using very low power. After our 80M practice QSO's we would immediately go back to 2M for a chat about the morse and to see how each had copied the sent code.

Practice with the computer continued & by the end of 2013, I was able to copy & send at about 20/21 wpm. I am having CW QSO's on air, usually at about the 16/18wpm level and have now learnt most of the CW shortened word forms used in QSO's. The rate of progress definitely slowed down for me after 12wpm was reached and there have been several brick walls (15wpm, 18wpm, & currently 24wpm) each lasting a few months. However with time & determination they do get overcome. Listening to QSO's on air helps a lot plus I have made a number of CW plain language wave files for my MP3 player at various speeds - in my case 24, 26 & 28wpm to always stretch myself in my copying - an essential part of increasing your speed! I use the MP3 player mostly when I'm out walking the dog every day.

I frequently no longer use different wpm speeds & Farnsworth speeds for my practice, as I am trying to simulate what I hear on air, not what the PC can generate. The club run two or three CW Boot Camps a year where for two solid days we just send and receive CW in groups of three or four people with an Elmer to each group. These weekends often see real progress & individuals often have  a bit of a breakthough in terms of wpm. We break up sessions every half hour or so with a coffee break, a talk on different keys or other CW topics etc. We also take turns at QSO's with each other across the table & are subject to constructive critisism from each other and the elmers!   Its also an opportunity to try out different types of key.

I think if I had realised then back in 2011 how many hours I would have to put in, I might not have started! However once you can get on the air & can send reasonably good morse with only a few errors, it is very rewarding. We all have to start somewhere, speed is not that important and I think you will be ready when you know the 40 characters, can recognise good morse and can send with only a few errors! Start with friends initially.

By the way we started using a dual paddle from the off, what was the point of using a straight key then having to change over to a paddle as your speed increased and having to learn a new technique? Please note however that we were already very aware of the sound & rhythm of good morse after all the PC practice.

So, whats my message Martin? ....... There's no short cuts, no one scientific method that brings rapid success for all, it just requires dedicated hard work & practice plus as I already said, variation in methodology & a bit of friendly competition with your peers. Setting goals to achieve in set time frames was/is very helpful for me too.

Whats my ambition? Well actually its to help & encourage as many other interested amateurs at our club to learn the code & become proficient operators as I can. Oh, and to send & receive solid copy at 25 wpm of course...!!

Good Luck Martin, keep practicing, there will be light at the end of the tunnel if you are determined enough.
Sorry for the bandwidth!
73 Ray, G3XLG


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: G3XLG on January 07, 2014, 11:30:18 AM
Sorry
I meant to post my above comment in the other thread from KB1WSY ie "my Morse Learning Campaign"
73 Ray G3XLG


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: WB3CQM on January 07, 2014, 01:58:23 PM
Hi Martin ,

Did you ever see this before ? http://n5dwi.com/index.html  - N5DWI QRQ Central .

I have had this theory about learning Morse code for years , and it is that if our mom would have sent Morse to us when we were little babies we would not struggle with it at 20 - 30 - and above years old.

Look at what N5DWI has to say . Let me add this one little bit of information . How is it I teach a dog over 100 words ? More like over 250 words and they can not spell ? It is called association learning. I like to call it "word association Learning "

What if we could find some one on this forum to be a test case ? You know what I mean ! And lets have this person try and learn Morse Code by words and Not by letters as N5DWI suggest.

I have actually taught homing pigeons or racing pigeons some English language , in that I mean some commands they learn by voice, and they know actual words. They did not learn individual letters, but words . The sound of the word.

I told you in your other thread , I felt I learned Morse the wrong way. But I still learned it. Cause  no# 1 Wanted to learn it ! People give up cause they really do not want to learn Morse code. That is what I think. I also think people listen to some of these people on forums that say they learn Code in 2 weeks they look at their own progress and give up. Morse code takes some people as my self , well I started to copy in 1976 and I am still learning to copy ! So I must be little slow ?

I went to my friends house with all these Koch method and so forth about 5 years ago and his reply was this. There is ONLY ONE WAY to learn Morse code - That being the Navy way - He was a Navy Morse instructor and I can tell you how he said they learned, but hopefully a old Navy cw op will post here on how they learned Morse . I know they have , but it would not hurt to repeat it . 

this post of mine is just for thought purpose - making no claims as the best or better way

73 JIM



Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: W2IU on January 07, 2014, 02:05:20 PM
Hi,
For once my professional degree comes into practice with Ham Radio!!!!! I am so excited! So let me take a step back. My field is in adult learning. Every person has a different learning style. David Kolb has done extensive work on learning styles. Basically boiling it down to learning by experimenting, experience, observation and finally through conceptualization through visual, tactile or auditory senses.

Long story short, what works for me, observing through watching would not work for someone else. This is why there is no 1 best and only way to learn cw. Some people can spend months on LCWO.net and pick it up no problem, where basically waste their time on there to only really flourish when sending cw, or in other cases watching someone send cw.

Maybe I should build a tool that tells you, based on your learning profile, what way would be for you to use and in what order. Would that be useful?

Best!
John
W3JAR


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 07, 2014, 02:14:49 PM
Maybe I should build a tool that tells you, based on your learning profile, what way would be for you to use and in what order. Would that be useful?

Wow, John, that would be great! I guess the problem is, however, that I do feel I am making good progress with the Koch method despite some significant setbacks at one time or another. I've only been at it consistently since November and that's not a very long time, thus think that I should persevere with Koch for the time being. But I'd still be happy to test your tool: it could help me and others!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: K7MEM on January 07, 2014, 02:49:24 PM
Hi Martin,

I read most of everything, but it just sounds like your getting impatient. That's very common. When I started my own campaign, I already had all the letters down, but only at about 10 WPM. So when I started studying for speed, it initially went very quickly. It only took me a month the get to 15 WPM. But then my next goal was 25 WPM. That took six months. As long as there is progress, even if it's small, your doing good.

But I think G3XLG had something in his post. I was also testing for the test. By that I mean, I wasn't copying converted text out of books or letter groups. In the tests I would be taking, I wasn't going to hear book passages or letter groups. I was going to hear a simulated QSO. That's what I studied with. In a CW QSO, at least for me, there is a lot of anticipation. When you hear "rst" you know some numbers are coming. When you hear "wx hr" you know that there is going to be a short weather report. Same with "name" and "qth".

Most CW QSOs contain will the same general information. As you get more confidant, by getting on the air, the QSOs start to a little extra to the conversation by asking questions or elaborating on something. But you also learn not to go overboard, if your talking to some who is also trying to learn.

So I recommend that you keep working. Don't study too hard. I only studied 2-3 times a day for 15 minutes each time. Some times you fill like you have been struck dumb. But you just have to keep on going.


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: K8AXW on January 07, 2014, 07:52:09 PM
Quote
I think I get your point now. I don't know at what Scientific Evidence level you would call it but perhaps a reasonable answer may come from a current/former military Morse instructor Ham. The reason being that thousands of military CW ops in the past and to some extent currently had to pass some type of pre qualifying mental/dexterity tests/exams in order to get into the program. Obviously these tests/exams were based on some type of previous and ongoing research that best predicted a successful outcome. I have no idea of what these individual traits are that the military is looking for but they do and it has proven to be successful. My take anyway.

Great answer!

When I enlisted I was given a battery of test on everything from which direction a nut went on a bolt to advanced math and even a test where learning Morse code was given.  Three letters were  briefly "taught."  They were: I N T.  Once the three letters were explained then the test began.  The letters were sent and a block had to be penciled in for each character heard.  As the test proceeded the speed increased until, as I recall, all but just a few quit in despair.

That was the only "test" given to me for Morse and as I recall I lasted quite a long time before I finally had to quit.

As for "methods" of learning code, the military used what I called the "Brute force and ignorance" method.  You set with a set of cans on the head, paper and pencil at hand and the code was taught a few letters/numbers at a time.  When those letters and any previously learned characters were learned then a test was given and if you passed you were given 3 more characters. This was done for 8 hours a day with a five minute break each hour and an hour off for lunch.

While this might seem brutal I recall that very few actually flunked out.  Some fell behind but they were accommodated to a certain extent before they washed out. 

I think the aptitude  "test" and the "brute force and ignorance" method has been a tried and true "scientific method."  This method has fielded tens of thousands of radio operators and intercept operators down through the years.

No doubt the Farnsworth and Koch methods have also fielded many CW operators as well but I have no doubt they are a poor second and third.

How much scientific evidence do you need?

Martin, no disrespect, but I really do believe you're thinking this thing to death! At the very least you're being loyal to a method that continues to create problems for you.

Al - K8AXW



Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 08, 2014, 05:23:10 AM
As for "methods" of learning code, the military used what I called the "Brute force and ignorance" method.  You set with a set of cans on the head, paper and pencil at hand and the code was taught a few letters/numbers at a time.  When those letters and any previously learned characters were learned then a test was given and if you passed you were given 3 more characters. This was done for 8 hours a day with a five minute break each hour and an hour off for lunch.

Al, that sounds like a close copy of the Koch method! That's almost exactly how Koch did it, except his class were commercial operators initially!

It differs from Koch in only two ways:
--Koch adds only one character at a time, not three, before testing.
--Koch believed that learning Morse for more than a few hours per day was counterproductive; but I bet you he changed his mind when his method started being used by the military in the run-up to WWII!! (There is very little evidence about what he did during that period; but it does seem that his method was used by at least some of the German services.)

Martin, no disrespect, but I really do believe you're thinking this thing to death! At the very least you're being loyal to a method that continues to create problems for you.

Actually you have greatly reassured me. It seems that the military who taught you may have heard of Koch, or had independently come to similar conclusions. The U.S. military radiotelegraph services were investigating the Koch method as early as 1942, according to what I have read.

How about this "thought experiment" Al. How would you have reacted if, after learning the first 15 letters of the alphabet and a couple of weeks before the end of the course, your instructor had said: "OK class, now it's time to Just Get On The Air"?

You are showing absolutely no disrespect OM. I'm keen to do things the best way and a lively discussion about it helps clarify one's ideas. Your posts in this thread and in other forums are informative and useful.

I do have a tendency to "over-think" almost everything I do in life, whether professional or leisure. On the plus side, when I get something done, it usually meets my own very finicky standards. On the minus side, not infrequently the task never gets "finished." Viz., ham radio: except that this time I can feel it now, I will be on the air soon.

Now I will get back to vanquishing that pesky letter "G" that is giving me so much trouble.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: K8AXW on January 08, 2014, 08:46:26 AM
WSY: Martin, I wasn't aware there was any similarity between the Koch method and the method used by the military.  Interesting!

To use your analogy, "get on the air before you learn ALL of the code" can't be done any more than my instructor putting me on a military net without being able to receive all of the letters or my speed was so slow that I could never copy anything.

This wasn't my point about "just get on the air."  If I did, I failed to understand your situation completely and for that I apologize.

If anything, I read your problem wrong because you were talking this Koch method over and over and it was obviously failing you at some point.  Whenever that happens it's time to back off and try banging your head against another wall.   ;D

Let me suggest something.  If you're having a problem with a particular character, try confining your learning of that particular character with just a few other characters.  Then confine your practice of listening to the troublesome character with ones that are similar in element formation.  

You have to be careful here and not confine yourself to this for very long or you run the risk of losing what you have learned.  The point would be to narrow your focus to a difficult character for a  short period of time and then go back to the rest of what you have learned.

This "narrowing your focus" can be done again and again but just not for very long.

If your training material doesn't permit this, then you'll need to come up with a way, perhaps sending the characters to a tape player, and then playing those back to focus on the troublesome character. 

This will also give you sending practice which is a good thing as well.  Some feel that sending while learning the code is complicating things but the fact of the matter is sending compliments receiving and also breaks up the boredom of just receiving.

Al - K8AXW


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 08, 2014, 08:55:46 AM
Let me suggest something.  If you're having a problem with a particular character, try confining your learning of that particular character with just a few other characters.  Then confine your practice of listening to the troublesome character with ones that are similar in element formation.  

At the moment I'm doing a variant of that. So for instance, that problem I'm having with "G." I'm using drills that have all the characters learned so far, but with an artificially high number of "G's." In my software, that's called "favor recently learned character."

This "narrowing your focus" can be done again and again but just not for very long.

I know what you mean!

If your training material doesn't permit this....

The software I'm using allows you to create "custom sets" of random drills containing any character set you want to focus on.

Thanks again!


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: K8AXW on January 08, 2014, 09:20:25 AM
WSY:  VERY GOOD!  Sounds like you're doing everything right and are simply having ordinary or expected problems. 

Martin, let me emphasize one thing.  That is, it will be worth it!  CW opens a whole new world of ham radio.  To set at your receiver and listen to what amounts to a stream of noise come from the speaker and in your head you hear letters and eventually words, is a wonderful feeling.  Something like taking a foreign vacation and finding yourself being able to communicate with the natives! 

I've known so many who have simply given up because they "can't learn dit-dah."  I suppose there are those who simply can't but they are few in number.  Most of those simply can't discipline themselves

One more thing while I'm on my soap box Martin..... and I doubt if it pertains to you.  That is those who "can't learn the code because of a hearing impairment."  That line can be dried, packaged and sold at any fertilizer outlet in the country!

CW can be heard by anyone except those who are totally deaf.  "They can't hear CW" is totally BS!

Al - K8AXW


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: WB2WIK on January 08, 2014, 09:41:04 AM
I've known completely deaf hams who worked CW and could copy code by placing their fingertips on a speaker cone and feeling the characters.  I don't know how fast they could go, but they used the code.

Not much incentive for that extreme these days, with digital modes, computers and monitors, and other modern stuff.

I'm quite active on CW and use it pretty much every day and note that "most" active hams using code are older, many in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and some in their 80s and 90s.  I'd wager almost all of them (with the possible exception of those in their younger 50s) learned on their own with no special methods and no actual record of their method or progress.





Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: K3STX on January 08, 2014, 09:55:32 AM
I'd wager almost all of them (with the possible exception of those in their younger 50s) learned on their own with no special methods and no actual record of their method or progress.

I'm 50, and I learned it on my own with no special methods and no actual record of my method or progress.  :)

paul


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB4QAA on January 08, 2014, 10:08:09 AM
My great aunt, who is approaching 90, learned morse code as a young lady during WWII while working in a train depot.  Hearing it hammered out all day long.  She could "head copy' all the telegrams and rail traffic orders.

-Nearly all classical musicians have have had years of formal tutoring, and often continue taking lessons and masters' classes.

-Many popular musicians and performers learn to play by ear, and may never learn to read music notation.  

Which is "correct"?   Why do you think learning morse is any different?

Lord knows I've had some atrociously designed courses in the Navy over 26 years.  The military tries to use scientific methods. In the end, they use reasonably effective methods that work for widely differing learning styles and levels of intelligence.

Methods which can be taught by non-professionals who know nothing about educational theory, and who are frequently shuffled in and out of instructor duty.  You can accomplish much training when you have a young, captive audience, motivated by a certain level of fear and intimidation!  ;)

Two ratings in the Navy were historically taught morse:  Radiomen and Signalmen.  Radiomen were among the brightest and required high aptitude scores for entry.  Skivvie Wavers (God Bless 'Em) had nearly the lowest aptitude scores for entry and yet learned morse, semaphore and signal flags, at significant speeds.  A key method for SM's was repetition, repetition, repetition.



Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 08, 2014, 10:31:23 AM
There's a great book titled "Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell, in which he examines the factors that underlie the success of very successful people.

The key insight from the book is a very mundane answer: practice, and repetition. The key number he comes up with is: 10,000 hours, yup, that's right, ten thousand. Bill Gates, the Beatles, classical music virtuosi: 10,000 hours of practice.

I bet you WIK and AXW might have racked up that many hours of CW in their lives, huh?


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: N4OI on January 08, 2014, 07:31:22 PM
CW is an art form…  What scientific process was used to teach Claude Monet how to paint fuzzy, impressionistic pictures?  (equivalent to a nice, buggy fist)   ;D

73


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 09, 2014, 03:28:21 AM
CW is an art form…  What scientific process was used to teach Claude Monet how to paint fuzzy, impressionistic pictures?  (equivalent to a nice, buggy fist)   ;D

73

I'm glad you made that analogy.

As a teenager Monet went to a "secondary school of the arts" in Le Havre. He later moved to Paris and studied with numerous teachers and other artists. He joined the military and served in Algeria, then came back to Paris to (again) attend art school. He met several artists who were later to become famous including Renoir and Sisley. At this point he became disillusioned with the art taught in art schools and forged his own style. By that time he must have already racked up many thousands of hours of conventional "art experience."

The point I'm trying to make? By the time he started painting those fuzzy pictures he'd already put in massive amounts of time learning his trade in a relatively "scientific" manner using the then-accepted techniques and styles. Most artists, whatever their styles, achieve what they achieve not only through talent but also via a lot of hard work and relatively conventional "learning."

Let me give you another example. In "real life" I'm a graphic designer, whose specialty happens to be typesetting musical scores. What I do is an intimate mixture of art and science; actually, mainly science but a lot of musical and graphic/esthetic judgement is involved too.

I know what people mean when they say that CW is an "art" but that doesn't mean it can't be taught scientifically or analyzed scientifically and it sure doesn't mean we can't do an independent assessment of which learning techniques work best. Except I haven't seen one!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: N4OI on January 09, 2014, 04:36:07 AM
CW is an art form…  What scientific process was used to teach Claude Monet how to paint fuzzy, impressionistic pictures?  (equivalent to a nice, buggy fist)   ;D

73

I'm glad you made that analogy.

As a teenager Monet went to a "secondary school of the arts" in Le Havre. He later moved to Paris and studied with numerous teachers and other artists. He joined the military and served in Algeria, then came back to Paris to (again) attend art school. He met several artists who were later to become famous including Renoir and Sisley. At this point he became disillusioned with the art taught in art schools and forged his own style. By that time he must have already racked up many thousands of hours of conventional "art experience."

The point I'm trying to make? By the time he started painting those fuzzy pictures he'd already put in massive amounts of time learning his trade in a relatively "scientific" manner using the then-accepted techniques and styles. Most artists, whatever their styles, achieve what they achieve not only through talent but also via a lot of hard work and relatively conventional "learning."

Let me give you another example. In "real life" I'm a graphic designer, whose specialty happens to be typesetting musical scores. What I do is an intimate mixture of art and science; actually, mainly science but a lot of musical and graphic/esthetic judgement is involved too.

I know what people mean when they say that CW is an "art" but that doesn't mean it can't be taught scientifically or analyzed scientifically and it sure doesn't mean we can't do an independent assessment of which learning techniques work best. Except I haven't seen one!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY

Yep -- every analogy breaks down at some point…  Perhaps a more closely related example is learning a foreign language…   

Lots of approaches out there from junior high school classes to private packages such as Rosetta Stone or Berlitz…  In retrospect, it would have been better to learn CW like a language by hearing complete words instead of individual letters.  Try conversing by listening to someone just say letters instead of words at 35 wpm...  There is significant mental overhead required even before we bring morse into the mix!

It took several years for my brain to begin building a basic vocabulary of morse words that are typically used in a QSO… (a continuing process)   All it takes is to try copying random text from the ARRL practice files to revert to having to assemble letters in my mind before making words…

Maybe sleep learning is the answer…. ;D

73


   


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 09, 2014, 04:47:15 AM
Maybe sleep learning is the answer…. ;D

Errr ... yes, that is yet another of the techniques that has been suggested at one time or another to learn CW! Here is a two-paragraph excerpt from "The Art and Skill of Radiotelegraphy":

"Sleep Learning?

"A number of operators in the past who desperately wanted to increase their receiving skills deliberately tried sleeping beside their receivers or playback recording equipment (or their line telegraph sounders in the case of landline operators) with fast code signals coming through for several hours or all night. They claimed that within a surprisingly short time they had great increases in receiving speed. This procedure has been challenged, but apparently works for some people.

"One ham, who says he can copy at 70wpm and still wants to increase above that, has for years been listening this way every night. Maybe it works for some people, but I wonder if it is actually effective, and also whether they got any restful sleep that way. It is interesting that in the early 1920s a group of doctors were being trained to use Morse code. Their teachers tried sleep-learning with them, and found that if the word 'doctor' was sent while they were asleep during the night, it would nearly always wake them up immediately, showing that there was some kind of unconscious receptivity and response."

To me, this is is yet another example of the problem with "Morse code learning." Because there's not independent assessment of the various methods, pretty much "anything goes" including the above "sleep learning" technique. Who knows whether it works? Sounds awfully unlikely to me, but how can we write it off? At least the above excerpt does reference one relatively scientific experiment (with the doctors)!

I haven't started dreaming in CW yet ... and, using the "sleep learning" technique would definitely earn a divorce petition from XYL....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: PA0KDW on January 09, 2014, 06:41:52 AM
My experience is, that it doesn't proceed your ability to copy code when the code is so fast that you can't copy a single word.

However when you can copy a quart to half of the sent text the progress is there. Generally I hear from the QRQ guys that the way to increase their speed was, to listen to fast code (see above) and when going back to a lower speed, it is easy to copy; easier then it was before, so progress is measurable.

This is a method you can't use ad infinitum, most people have a certain speed ceiling they can't break, the so named brick wall, also not with this technique. You can find more or less proof at speed competitions, such as rufzxp.net. The top guys overthere operate at their personal ceilings, how desperately they try to overtake each other.

Another point: the grouping of characters.

When you start over with the remaining characters, there is no reason not to do them with your initial speed of one character per day.

You mentioned Koch experience.

My answer: Look at the limits. Limit cases you can learn a lot from. When you want to learn 40 characters and you have mastered 38 with 90% reliability. You add number 39. However the probability of occurance is only 2.5% in every exercise. UNLESS you give more weight to the probability of occurance of the new character. However when you do, you actually make a group of one new character and a group with low probability of the rest of the learned characters.

When I wanted to learn the special characters of a language, such as French, in order to conversate with my french fried friends, I do NOT do that by mixing them in exercises with other characters. I just do code practice till I copy an increasing  mix of those special characters  nearly 100% . Believe it or not (like Koch) but in the meantime my proficiency with international code did NOT going lower. So after a while I started mixim them and right now the international set is just expanded with them.

So when you start over with a second group of 20 characters, there is hardly a reason why you should not do it with the pace of one a day. Even Koch admits. But Koch says you forgot your first group. How about repeating the first group with 20% exercise time in order to prevent that phenomenon?





Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: N2EY on January 09, 2014, 07:24:15 AM
A couple of points:

1) In the Koch method, it is possible to construct words out of a limited number of characters. This is demonstrated in "Learning the Radiotelegraph Code". For example, with just ETAONIS, you can construct words like ATE, SEAT, NOTE, ISNT, TONE, TEEN, TON, etc. In fact whole sentences such as A TAN TEEN EATS TEN TONS. As the character set increases, so do the possible words. This permits the development of head-copy and plain-text skills.

2) It is normal and common to encounter "plateaus" in the "learning curve". They do NOT mean there is no learning going on!

3) It is very important to develop the skill of "not getting hung up" when a letter is missed. It is a lot like what happens during a live stage performance and an actor drops a line or otherwise messes up - the important thing is to keep going. For some folks this is difficult because they want to "get it right the first time" - but life can't always work that way.

4) Remember always that learning Morse Code is a set of skills, not one skill!

5) References to "how the military did it" must be taken with a grain of salt, if not the whole shaker. Here's why:

In military code training, the trainees worked at learning code for hours per day. They'd have put in more hours per week than a typical ham trying to learn code would do in a month - or two! More important, learning code was a military trainees job. It was what they were being paid to do, expected to do, and it was in a formal classroom setting with instructors, structure, etc. Not a hobby, pastime, or something that had to be fit in between other responsibilities. (This is true of practically all military training.)

6) Most of us who have decent code skills took years to acquire them. Often we had relatively few distractions, too.

Just keep plugging away.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 09, 2014, 07:57:03 AM
A couple of points:

(Annoying pedantry alert): That's six, not two.

3) It is very important to develop the skill of "not getting hung up" when a letter is missed. It is a lot like what happens during a live stage performance and an actor drops a line or otherwise messes up - the important thing is to keep going. For some folks this is difficult because they want to "get it right the first time" - but life can't always work that way.

I have largely learned that lesson except in those cases where my annoying brain sends out an alert: "You know that element, and you know that you know it, so figure it out and write it down! Now!" By which time I've missed at least half a dozen characters in a row. "G" has been doing this to me for a couple of weeks, but I've nearly vanquished it now. Today may be "G Liberation Day."

6) Most of us who have decent code skills took years to acquire them. Often we had relatively few distractions, too.

Well, a lot of OTs state the opposite (admittedly it depends what you mean by "decent code skills"). Either it's selective memory, or (more likely I think) they had fewer other things to deal with and learned as kids, teenagers or young adults. If they learned as hams, they learned during that part of their life where the hobby could be a huge part of their life without it "mattering" in a detrimental way. If they learned in the military, they progressed rapidly for the reasons that you spell out: they were doing it all the time, they were being paid for it, and during some periods, their life and that of the country depended on it.

Just keep plugging away.

Aye aye, OM.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: WB3CQM on January 09, 2014, 09:57:20 AM
A couple of points:

(Annoying pedantry alert): That's six, not two.



Well, a lot of OTs state the opposite (admittedly it depends what you mean by "decent code skills"). Either it's selective memory, or (more likely I think) they had fewer other things to deal with and learned as kids, teenagers or young adults. If they learned as hams, they learned during that part of their life where the hobby could be a huge part of their life without it "mattering" in a detrimental way. If they learned in the military, they progressed rapidly for the reasons that you spell out: they were doing it all the time, they were being paid for it, and during some periods, their life and that of the country depended on it.

Just keep plugging away.

Aye aye, OM.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


No one learned Morse Code in my day as a ham . They learned Morse Code to become a ham.
1976 I had to copy 1 perfect minute out of 5 min at 13 wpm to become a General . Then had to get up and send Morse code on a Straight key in front of a FCC examiner.

When I took the Extra I had to pass 50 questions of Advance license then Take 40 question test . But of course I had to pass 20 wpm receive of Morse Code test . In Front of FCC examiner at Philadelphia after I drove 2 1/2 hours to get there. Big difference from today's ham.

I think the hams before 1976 had it even more difficult testing and code exams.

I am still learning and practice my Morse code . Wonder when I will get it 100% if ever ?

73 JIM


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 09, 2014, 11:31:29 AM
When I took the Extra I had to pass 50 questions of Advance license then Take 40 question test . But of course I had to pass 20 wpm receive of Morse Code test . In Front of FCC examiner at Philadelphia after I drove 2 1/2 hours to get there. Big difference from today's ham.

Jim, I have a lot of respect for the Old School given that you all had to take the code test.

I'm learning Morse just for fun, but serious fun. Judging from the QSOs I hear on the bands today, those who can handle 20wpm+ have a lot more choices than those going slower, so that's my ultimate aim -- not straight away, of course.

Plus, I'm building my own equipment from scratch and I'd rather not tackle building an SSB rig! Building CW gear is the way to go, for an electronics amateur like me.

So, in effect, I am going through a similar process to the one you went to but without having to go before the code examiner to get there. I'm not on the air yet, that will come as soon as I've assimilated the Morse character set and built my rig.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: N4OI on January 09, 2014, 01:13:43 PM
Maybe sleep learning is the answer…. ;D
I haven't started dreaming in CW yet ... and, using the "sleep learning" technique would definitely earn a divorce petition from XYL....

Not to be wierd...  but I travel a bit for work and always take along my Sony SW-07 travel receiver. http://www.radiomuseum.org/r/sony_icf_sw07.html  It has a lightweight, tennis racket-shaped active antenna that I just clip to the window-side of the curtain.   I find that quiet listening to 40 meter CW, around the 7.030 area, helps me get to sleep fast in a noisy, unfamiliar room.   The Sony has a very wide, fixed bandwidth that lets in a lot of CW without having to tune around... and the one-hour sleep timer is more than enough time to drift away.  (I am not claiming any sleep learning here!)

73


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: IZ2UUF on January 09, 2014, 03:04:49 PM
As I advance in my learning of Morse code, I have been deeply struck by how passionate people are about how a ham should learn the code.

Hello Martin.

In my learning of CW I became conviced that the most important aspect that should be scientifically addressed is not what exercise to do, but how to keep people involved.
Most of us are mid-age adults: our life is busy, we are stressed and we hate making a poor showing just because we fail to understand.
In my opinion, if a morse learning method wants to be succesful, it should fulfill these requirements:
  • - effective even if practiced on scattered spare time;
  • - rewarding;
  • - relaxing;
  • - not exposing too much to humiliation with other people, because this is stressing;
The exercises done by a 20 years old youngster under the Army that has nothing else to think than learning to copy CW might not be as effective on a mid-age family man, just because he is not 20, he is not under the Army and his life is much different.

I think that the method that will best meet the goals above will be the winning one.

Davide


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB4QAA on January 09, 2014, 10:38:40 PM
Learning research has shown that that as we age our rate of learning decreases, retention decreases, attention span decreases and increased repetition of material is required to compensate.  This is especially true after the age of 45.

The strategies to use are:
-Take the material at a reasonable rate
-Stop studying when your mind wanders, i.e. you start missing whole words
-Review the material already studied at regular intervals
-Don't try to cram for tests!

I found this to be very true when I returned to college at age 45, just as the literature says.  Strategies that served well in my undergraduate years, left me struggling as an old foggie. 


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 10, 2014, 03:36:40 AM
I found this to be very true when I returned to college at age 45, just as the literature says.  Strategies that served well in my undergraduate years, left me struggling as an old foggie.  

I think that ... oh, wait, I've forgotten what I was about to say (I'm 56, so that's OK!).

Your post is very useful, I must remember to use it whenever I forget to do something requested by XYL!

Edited to add:

A couple of years ago, she (and I) decided that I must be going a bit deaf. She was asking me stuff and I wasn't responding. So I went to the ear doctor and had a battery of tests. My hearing turned out to be 100 percent normal and quite good for someone my age. (Which is just as well, because I'm in the music business.)

So what did the doctor say? He said that, as we age, we become less inclined to focus on stuff that we hear. He said that this explains why I'm having trouble picking out conversations in a noisy restaurant, for instance. He insisted there was nothing wrong with my hearing, but only with my head!

XYL found this very amusing, and unfortunately I now have no excuse any more!

Interestingly, with Morse, I find that I copy better if I set the volume in the headphones quite low, almost at the "straining to hear" point.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: W1JKA on January 10, 2014, 04:10:58 AM
My hearing doctor told me I had selective tone deafness, one of which is my XYL's audible speaking frequencies.


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: LB3KB on January 10, 2014, 04:40:17 AM
Learning research has shown that that as we age our rate of learning decreases, retention decreases, attention span decreases and increased repetition of material is required to compensate.  This is especially true after the age of 45.

Where did you find this research ?

I realize that what you're saying is a shared excuse belief among many people older than 45, but as far as I am concerned it's not a useful belief.  If anything it sets you up for failure.

So where is the scientific evidence you are talking about ?


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: K7MEM on January 10, 2014, 04:54:41 AM
I didn't have issues with my hearing or eyesight until I hit 40. That's when I started to buy the cheap glasses you can get at the grocery store. Before retirement, most of my time was spent in a lab. No windows, combination lock on the door, raised floor, and the constant movement of air from a 10 ton Liebert. After a while you don't even notice that it's on. Sometimes it would develop a whistle and you would have to hunt down the floor tile that was causing it.

So what did the doctor say? He said that, as we age, we become less inclined to focus on stuff that we hear. He said that this explains why I'm having trouble picking out conversations in a noisy restaurant, for instance. He insisted there was nothing wrong with my hearing, but only with my head!

That's actually quite common with dyslexia. If more than one person is talking at a time, I can't understand what is being said. Words from each talker are all mixed together. The XYL's family thinks that I'm just a nice quiet kind of guy, because I don't talk a lot around them. In reality, I have no idea what any of their conversations are about, because they all talk at the same time. At family gatherings there can be 7 or 8 of them talking at once.

My hearing doctor told me I had selective tone deafness, one of which is my XYL's audible speaking frequencies.

How lucky can a many get? Radios and selective hearing!


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 10, 2014, 05:18:57 AM
[snip] So where is the scientific evidence you are talking about ?
73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)

I'd be quite keen to see the scientific evidence too.

Speaking personally (and therefore only as anecdotal evidence), I went back to college at age 31 and already found it pretty tough back then. That was for language courses -- one year of intensive Arabic in Cairo. So, a bit of academic learning but mainly just a lot of "skill learning," a little bit similar to learning Morse Code.

What I find at age 56 is that I definitely seem to be "slower on the uptake" than I was as a teenager: I learned Morse back then too, but had forgotten everything by the time I got back to it recently. However, I am:

(a) Much more motivated than I was back then, which is hard to believe! As a 12-year-old I was totally obsessed with ham radio but now, in middle age, I think I may be even more attracted to the hobby than I was back then. Message to the middle-aged: don't try learning Morse unless you really want to do it.

(2) Much, much, more patient. Maybe too patient, judging from some of the comments on this forum. If it takes me many months to get reasonable, slow-speed proficiency then: so be it.

(3) Much more persistent. My attention span's no better than it was as a teenager, but my long-term staying power is much greater.

On the downside: life is complicated, much more complicated than for a teenager. Squeezing in the Morse learning is a challenge. But that applies to most adults, not just middle-aged ones, at least prior to retirement.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: K8AXW on January 10, 2014, 08:37:29 AM
WSY: 
Quote
What I find at age 56 is that I definitely seem to be "slower on the uptake" than I was as a teenager: I learned Morse back then too, but had forgotten everything by the time I got back to it recently. However, I am:

(a) Much more motivated than I was back then, which is hard to believe! As a 12-year-old I was totally obsessed with ham radio but now, in middle age, I think I may be even more attracted to the hobby than I was back then. Message to the middle-aged: don't try learning Morse unless you really want to do it.

(2) Much, much, more patient. Maybe too patient, judging from some of the comments on this forum. If it takes me many months to get reasonable, slow-speed proficiency then: so be it.

(3) Much more persistent. My attention span's no better than it was as a teenager, but my long-term staying power is much greater.

On the downside: life is complicated, much more complicated than for a teenager. Squeezing in the Morse learning is a challenge. But that applies to most adults, not just middle-aged ones, at least prior to retirement.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY

Martin!  You took my breath away!  These observations describe me perfectly.  Age must take the piss and vinegar out of a guy and then he can get down to serious thinking and work!

Can you imagine what we could have been or what we could have accomplished if this process was reversed?  This is a "thought question"  that you can spend days analyzing!

Al - K8AXW


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 10, 2014, 09:28:55 AM
Can you imagine what we could have been or what we could have accomplished if this process was reversed?

I stopped worrying about that at the age of 34, which is when I made the decision to quit from my "day job" as an international news reporter and set up my own small business with a tight focus and no intention to get rich or anything. I'm sure many young people, seeing the world as their oyster, expect to achieve great things. Ironically I ended up much happier after I stopped having "great ambitions" and also a bit better at "finishing" projects. I say "a bit," because I'm still pretty useless (hence, the half-finished plastic models all over the house). I also started paying a lot more attention to the family thing.... What I have never lost, however, is my wanderlust. Perhaps ham radio will be wanderlust by proxy.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB4QAA on January 10, 2014, 09:49:51 AM
Learning research has shown that that as we age our rate of learning decreases, retention decreases, attention span decreases and increased repetition of material is required to compensate.  This is especially true after the age of 45.

Where did you find this research ?

I realize that what you're saying is a shared excuse belief among many people older than 45, but as far as I am concerned it's not a useful belief.  If anything it sets you up for failure.

So where is the scientific evidence you are talking about ?


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)
I'm sorry Sid.  I did my research after I returned to school about 8 years ago. 

Without meaning to be trite, information on learning theory by genuine academics is widely available on the net.  Let your interest guide you!  bill


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: M0LEP on January 10, 2014, 09:50:34 AM
I'd be quite keen to see the scientific evidence too.

A quick google search turned up plenty of discussion on the subject. This one seems worth a read: http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/lifelonglearning/higher-education/implications/


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: LB3KB on January 10, 2014, 10:40:27 AM
Learning research has shown that that as we age our rate of learning decreases, retention decreases, attention span decreases and increased repetition of material is required to compensate.  This is especially true after the age of 45.

Where did you find this research ?

I realize that what you're saying is a shared excuse belief among many people older than 45, but as far as I am concerned it's not a useful belief.  If anything it sets you up for failure.

So where is the scientific evidence you are talking about ?

I'm sorry Sid.  I did my research after I returned to school about 8 years ago. 

Without meaning to be trite, information on learning theory by genuine academics is widely available on the net.  Let your interest guide you!  bill

That's fine - I was just responding to the claim that "research has shown" as justification for what I consider a limiting belief.

Even if it was true, it would not be a useful belief.


73
K4NL Sid


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on January 10, 2014, 02:34:14 PM
I'd be quite keen to see the scientific evidence too.

A quick google search turned up plenty of discussion on the subject. This one seems worth a read: http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/lifelonglearning/higher-education/implications/

It is indeed worth a read. Good stuff. The answers to the questions about "do we get worse at learning stuff as we get older" are not straightforward, and the article does a good job at laying it all out.


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: M0LEP on January 10, 2014, 04:25:14 PM
Aye, it's clearly a question without a simple yes or no answer, and with quite a bit of variation between individuals, too. Science's answers are often complicated...


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: K7KBN on January 10, 2014, 06:50:00 PM
Regarding learning ALL the code (clear back on page 1 of this thread)...

One punctuation mark that was not taught during Navy RM school while I was there in 1963 was the semicolon, or in code:  -.-.-.  

Apparently the Navy felt that it wasn't necessary to learn because RTTY was being used more and more, and a teletype keyboard has the semicolon as part of the mix.

So it was in 1964 when the Medical Department brought in a stack of Priority outgoing messages.  They were in the correct format and required transmission EXACTLY as written; semicolons included.  And, at this unfortunate juncture, all of the secure TTY circuits from the ship to the shore station with which we were terminating were down because of propagation.  CW was marginal to good, so the watch officer came out and handed them to the supervisor, who handed them to me.  

A good RM always scanned the outgoing stuff quickly to see that it "looked" okay; these didn't, obviously.  A quick look at my code reference showed me the -.-.-. for the semicolon, so I called the shore station and advised the operator that I had 17 priority messages to send.  He said "QRV K", so I began.  Immediately after the first semicolon he "broke" me, asking for a repeat.  I sent it again and he came back with "INT -.-.-.", with the INT sent as one character, meaning "DID YOU SEND -.-.-."?

One thing an RM wasn't supposed to do was chit-chat on a live circuit - meaning using plain language between operators.  From being on the Signal Bridge quite often, I knew the signal "ZWC", which means "This transmission is being sent to the operator on watch only".  So for the first time, AFAIK, it went out on a radio circuit:  "ZWC -.-.-. IS A SEMICOLON".

From the shore station:  "R K" (Roger.  Go ahead.)  I sent all 23 messages (Medical sent up a few more to sweeten the pot).  That was the busiest and most memorable watch I ever had!


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: K0JEG on January 12, 2014, 10:30:36 AM
Learning research has shown that that as we age our rate of learning decreases, retention decreases, attention span decreases and increased repetition of material is required to compensate.  This is especially true after the age of 45.

The strategies to use are:
-Take the material at a reasonable rate
-Stop studying when your mind wanders, i.e. you start missing whole words
-Review the material already studied at regular intervals
-Don't try to cram for tests!

I found this to be very true when I returned to college at age 45, just as the literature says.  Strategies that served well in my undergraduate years, left me struggling as an old foggie. 

Looks like I have 6 months to learn the code...


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: NV2A on January 12, 2014, 05:16:16 PM
.........................................................  I'd wager almost all of them (with the possible exception of those in their younger 50s) learned on their own with no special methods and no actual record of their method or progress.


I expect this is true but it does not speak to how many walked away from it after working hard but just lost interest before they got to that 50 year old level.

I learned the code as a high school kid but never achieved 13 wpm.  I tried it again 20 years later and made it to 25 wpm (characters not words in my head) with very little effort at all.  My old efforts popped right back like riding a bicycle.   On my second effort, I hit it real hard for two days and then took two days off.  Each time I went back to practice I was encouraged by how easy it was getting.

Least you think I'm a saint, I can't copy a word behind like you should AND I tend to anticipate (you sent "there" but I stopped the rhythmic phrase at "the", then I get hung up getting back on track ! HI HI.


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB4QAA on January 13, 2014, 10:40:26 AM
Regarding military methods, keep in mind:

-Military trainees are chosen by some criteria that selects them to be better than average (or at least not less likely to be successful) at learning morse.

-Ham learners are self-selected with no screening for aptitude other than self interest, and personal motivation.

We cannot assume the groups are equal in natural ability.  We cannot assume that military methods designed for young minds, with above average ability are equally succesful for older, un-screened hams.


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: AA4PB on January 13, 2014, 11:09:26 AM
K7KBN: Wow, RM school in 1962 and retired as a CWO4. Good job sir!


Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: N7DMA on January 31, 2014, 06:56:34 PM
OK, I'll jump in here.

I took an interest in electronics in around 1970 or so. With the loaner SB-310 shortwave receiver a neighbor gave me, I soon discovered ham radio. With no internet, cell phones, or other modern diversions, I knew I wanted to get my ham license.

After perusing all the ham radio books and magazines in the local library, I learned that in order to get my ticket, I'd have to learn morse code. So, I started studying.

There was no Koch or Farnswell methods known to me, so I learned the way the ARRL recommended; in groups of similar sounding characters.
E, I, S, H, 5.
 T, M, O, 0.
Etc.

Before long, I was translating everything I read into Morse. Stop signs. Store marquis. Newspapers. Even the safety notices on the lawnmowers I used to earn a few dollars.

Finally, after a bunch of teen aged shenanigans, around 1975, I felt I was finally ready to take the Novice test. I found a local ham who was willing to administer my exam. Passed with flying colors, and received my ticket.

I spent many nights pecking around the 40 meter band with my borrowed equipment, had a blast, and my code speed became more natural.

When I graduated from High School in 1976, I wasted no time enlisting in the Navy. They guaranteed me  Communications Technician "A" school. Way cool!

Then, in my final weeks of boot camp, I was told that there were no openings in CT school, and if I wanted, I could chose another rate. Since I wanted to be a communicator, they offered me 4 choices:

Radioman, Operation Specialist, Quartermaster, or Signalman. RM was my first choice, but I ended up going to Signalman school.

I dutifully went to SM "A" school, thinking that it was better than going to the fleet as a deck ape.

Turned out to be not such a bad choice.

When I reported to "A" school, the first day was our introduction to morse via flashing light. After a very boring first session, I went to the instructor, and informed him that I already knew morse code. He took my word for it, and gave me the final morse exam, which I passed with no repeats, and nothing missed. He then informed me that I was to teach my classmates CW. Switching from sound to light was easy for my malleable, young brain was no problem.

All 17 of my classmates passed the morse portion for the exam, and went on to the fleet as signalmen. I used the same method to teach them as I had learned it, by grouping like characters. Maybe not the Navy way, but it worked. We worked on it for hours every day for 8 weeks. Semaphore, well, I was able to do it, but CW via flashing light was my thing. BTW, that little stunt earned me an extra stripe!

I found out when I went to the fleet, that I was able to copy words, not just single letters. It was frustrating, as protocol required calling out single letters for transcription to a message pad.

It was enjoyable, and I loved being at sea. Most of our messages were routine, things like movie transfers, Captains golf scores, and the odd drill messages.

Then one day, I was called in by the communications officer. He took notice of my CW skills, and asked me if I would be interested in helping out in the radio shack passing traffic via CW, as we had no one onboard that was all that proficient . I jumped at the chance!

So, I pulled double watches when we were at sea. Same routine, boring messages we sent and received on the signal bridge. Most of the radio traffic back then was by RTTY.

I passed my General test in 1980. No, I didn't have to walk uphill in the snow both ways to take my exam. Hey, I live in Tucson! Just had to wait for the FCC to come to town to take my exam! I passed the CW test and written exam first time 'round.

Once upon a time, I gained my ARRL CW proficiency award at 30 wpm. That was then.

After several years of inactivity, I got back into it. Fortunately, I never lost my CW ability, but it took some work to gain back most of my speed. Once learned, and all of that.

Now, after all these years, CW is till my preferred mode. I've been working with my straight key skills over the last 6 months or so, trying to break from sending with paddles. I'm up to a good, solid 18 wpm on the straight key. That is all I use these days. I still can copy in my head, only writing the pertinent info, like callsign, name, location, and other random  information. I hear words, not individual letters.

If I miss a word, I don't sweat it. I get the general gist of the conversation. It works, every time. Often I fiddle around with other things on the bench while working CW.

Martin, don't overthink it too much. Learn the basics, then GET ON THE AIR! There are lotsa folks in your same situation, and they overcome the obstacles.

Practice, desire, and persistence. Those attributes are the key to proficiency.

Translate everything you read into CW. As time progresses, you will find that it becomes second nature. That is the sweet spot. When you can copy effortlessly, then you have made the transition. Once you get there, you'll find out how relaxing a CW conversation can be!

It's not easy for us in our mid-50's to learn a new skill. I get the idea that you are an intelligent man, so with due diligence, you can get it, and it will be a wonderful asset to your skill set. I'm just glad I learned CW so long ago. It would be tough to learn it now. Keep it up!

Tune that nice homemade regen to 7.114 MHz, and just read the mail. W1AW has code practice on 7.045 or so. Use it! Don't fret what you miss. You'll get it in time. Don't give up!

Not bragging here. Just telling my story.

Hope to work you on the air, Martin! It will happen.

73, and good luck!

Karl
N7DMA

 



Title: RE: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning
Post by: KB1WSY on February 01, 2014, 05:42:39 AM
Practice, desire, and persistence. Those attributes are the key to proficiency.

Yes. No "magic route" to Morse!

Translate everything you read into CW. As time progresses, you will find that it becomes second nature.

I've been doing that for some time, especially when I'm a passenger in a car ... mind you, that's actually "sending" practice and a rather different skill from copying.

It's not easy for us in our mid-50's to learn a new skill. I get the idea that you are an intelligent man, so with due diligence, you can get it, and it will be a wonderful asset to your skill set. I'm just glad I learned CW so long ago. It would be tough to learn it now. Keep it up!

It's the encouragement from great CW operators such as yourself that's kept me going. I made several attempts to learn CW in the past couple of years, but "all on my own" and they all petered out for one reason or another. This time, I've been at it -- solidly -- since November and it's been fun.

Tune that nice homemade regen to 7.114 MHz, and just read the mail. W1AW has code practice on 7.045 or so. Use it! Don't fret what you miss. You'll get it in time. Don't give up!

I'm monitoring a lot of stuff. That includes some CW nets such as HBSN on 7114, which is interesting because it's relatively slow speed and they use a lot of arcane abbreviations and greetings such as ARF ... the first time I monitored them, I was convinced I was mis-copying the code, until I looked up the information on their website! I'm also copying chunks of the W1AW bulletin at 18wpm -- seldom entire sentences, but plenty of words. Also, lots and lots of QSOs, which is good in terms of learning "operating routines," "boilerplate QSOs" and "copying callsigns." I've also heard the amazing Amsterdam Island DX pileups, which is quite exciting to listen to, albeit incomprehensible. There's some nice slow code just above 7100 involving SKCC members and a lot of CW Elmering going on there. I've also been hunting for DX in the low portion of 20m.

Of course the biggest problem is finding time, time, time.

Hope to work you on the air, Martin! It will happen.

I KNOW that it will happen (i.e. getting on the air) and I'd love to work you!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY