Flashcards Get Smarter

Flashcards Get Smarter So You Can, Too
New digital versions make it easier to memorize material in spare minutes; learning Mandarin, first aid, art history
April 28, 2015

The programs are based on research showing that spaced repetition, or repeated exposure to information at planned intervals, is the most powerful way to fix knowledge in one’s memory. Each digital flashcard is repeated at intervals, based on the degree of difficulty for the user. The hardest quiz items come up for review within a few hours or days, and easier ones are repeated every few weeks or months—when the user may be about to forget the answer.

Anki has been downloaded 2.5 million times since it was launched in 2006, including 850,000 installations in the past 12 months, says Damien Elmes of Sydney, Australia, the program’s creator.
Anki is free for computers and on the Web, or $24.99 for the iPhone and iPad mobile app
… Once she has information firmly in mind, she discards the card.

Cambridge University Press http://dictionary.cambridge.org
We are thrilled to be partnering with Memrise to help English learners everywhere.
London-based Memrise uses spaced repetition along with frequent testing, competitions among users, and memory-boosting tricks, such as showing users how to link facts they’re trying to learn with memorable images or things they already know.
People use Memrise to improve their technical vocabulary in fields ranging from oil drilling to medicine, says Ed Cooke, chief executive officer of Memrise, whose memory skills and coaching were described in the book, “Moonwalking with Einstein.”

Cerego, San Francisco, a program designed for use both in classrooms and by consumers, tracks the user’s performance item by item, measuring how long each answer takes and analyzing patterns of correct and incorrect responses, says Andrew Smith Lewis, co-founder and executive chairman. The program selects the items the user most needs to review, creates lessons based on them and graphs the user’s progress in each course.
Researchers at Excelsior College are studying whether using Cerego can help students learn more in online math and biology classes, says Jason Bryer, a senior researcher at Excelsior College, Albany, N.Y. Preliminary results from a 2014 study of 1,000 students found those who used the program got better grades

The effectiveness of spaced-repetition programs has been documented in hundreds of studies dating back more than a century, says a 2012 study in Educational Psychology Review.
Researchers and students began using spaced repetition with paper flashcards as early as the 1970s, employing a method called the Leitner system.

a spaced-repetition program called Skritter
Nick Winter of San Francisco co-founded Skritter in 2009 because studying Chinese in college was so difficult. “You spend eight hours a day in the classroom trying to learn facts, and after the semester is over you forget 98% of it—and all those years of your life are gone,” he says.

Others use flashcard programs for self-improvement. Spencer Greenberg of New York, founder of ClearerThinking.org, a website offering tools to help people improve their decision-making, uses a spaced-repetition system he created to remember tips on interviewing software engineers and making successful presentations.

Mr. Winter, co-founder of CodeCombat, a videogame that teaches programming …

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