March 29, 2019

Spaced recognition as a learning technique

Rosie Sherry @rosiesherry

I came across this post (by @jeffshek) which I found interesting and something I'd like to be more aware of and better at. Thought others here would like to be aware of it.

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    @rosiesherry HUGE shoutout and so many thanks! This community of makers is amazing.

    I was feeling a little down from some negative feedback on Reddit and seeing you post this really made my Friday morning!

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    It's totally worth your time!

    Spaced Repetition Systems have been popular in some niches for a long time. I got really interested in them in the mid 2000s to the point where I had tens of thousands of items in decks, and I even contributed to an open source project called Anki in 2008.

    Also, while SRS definitely has a place as a tool, there are a lot of people who have over-used it and found areas where it fails. I'm one of them!

    Here's a podcast on the evolution of these kinds of systems and how to make the most of them if you're interested:

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      I LOVE anki. I use it mainly to learn German, and it gives me the best results so far, compared to any other system, language courses included.

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    One of my side projects, MemorizeOnline, relies on this technique for teaching Portuguese epic poetry. I've also been avid user of Anki for many years.


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      Yay to the Anki shoutout! I loved it so much, I built a crappy (non-spaced repetition) version that became the Android app. Other people built the difficult features :)

      I have a huge interest in the area. Would be fun to build an app around spaced repetition.

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    if you are using Evernote, you could use for spaced repetition and flashcards , just launched it 1 month ago :)

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    I love to read a lot of things and expend my knowledge. However, for a long time, I never had the impress I remembered what I wanted to remember while reading. Plus it was pretty cumbersome to find back the information I wanted.

    I invented a system I refined over the year and I still refine today.

    1. Mind Maps

    When I read a book or an article which looks interesting enough, I take notes on paper about it since, to me, writing is a very good way to understand and memorize. At that point, I don't necessarily try to formulate the ideas with my own words, but I try hard to understand what I'm reading.

    Then I take these notes and I copy them into a Mind Map using Freemind. I use my own words to personalize the knowledge, but not too much not to lose the information or deform it.

    Why a Mind Map?

    • It's easy to focus on only one part of the knowledge by folding the branch you don't need.
    • It's very visual, you can have the whole knowledge of your resource in one place on one screen with colors or icons.
    • It links information together. It's very important to have a mental model of linked ideas for understanding and memorization.

    I categorized these Mind Map in different folder and synchronize them via Nextcloud (similar to Dropbox but self hosted).

    1. Spaced repetitions

    I have my whole organizational system in a Mind Map as well and based on GTD (Get Things Done). I have every project in there, and each week I decide how many Pomodoro sessions I will do for some of them during the week.

    One of my project is called "active recall" (from active learning). In there, their are every Mind Map category I have and each week I pick some of them for actively recalling them.

    For example, I'm trying to learn computer science at the moment, discrete mathematics to be precise. My goal was 2 pomodoro for the week, so when I begin to work on it I open my Mind Maps and simply learn and write (again) the key points.

    I write as well some question for my future self on the first node of the Mind Map, and the next time I open it again, I try to answer them. I try to do some exercises as well depending on the nature of the knowledge.

    The result? It's fantastic. I can pull off my brain studies I know I will need, to justify myself why this or that is not effective at work for example.

    In short, active learning + spaced recognition is the best way to learn I know.

    I'm thinking more and more doing some Youtube Video or articles about my whole productivity system, what I know about learning and so on. For now, I wrote an article about what I learned when I tried to learn Computer Science and how I learned it, if somebody is interested.

    It's more for developers, but I think everybody can find something useful in there,especially the part "Computer Science 101: Study Plan".

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    Spaced repetition is one of the key factors in the Japanese courses aim building.

    In addition to “shocking” the mind with showing unexpected things. Such as, when learning vocabulary, I weave past and future words into lesson recall practice — which triggers an immediate “what? We didn’t discuss this!” reaction.

    Which is exactly what I want as it literally triggers your brain to begin forming new neurons.

    I highly recommend sitting in on Yale Medical’s cognitive science courses. One of the best things I ever did. Learned a ton about how the brain works.

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    Just finished reading the article. Really interesting. Fortunately, i have a really good memory. But, I see how that technique can help to get even better on remembering important stuff. @rosiesherry, what would you use it for? Programming syntax and short chains of tasks? Like in the article?

    I only find it difficult to remember things that I do not do regularly. So like remembering commands that I need every 6 month or so. Those I keep in cheat sheet notes. I am okay with looking them up though.

    I can imagine learning languages that way would be helpful. Improving my English vocabulary for example....

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    In addition to Anki and Supermemo mentioned within I also really like Clozemaster which combines cloze completions (a language learning technique where one fills in blanks in sentences given a translation) with spaced repetition.

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    This looks like a really interesting technique! I'd never heard of it, but I'll be trying it out for sure. Thanks for sharing :)

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