Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Spacing Effect for Mobile Learning

For some time I have been reviewing research on the spacing effect of learning for maximum recollection. This research has been documented for over 100 years. In the past with teaching at specific times and places, this has been difficult and expensive to implement, but today with ubiquitous communication devices in our pockets and purses, it is easy to accomplish.

Dr. Will Thalheimer has been reviewing the literature and writing about the spacing effect for some time. See Spacing Learning Over Time: A Research Based Secret from the June 2007 ASTD Annual Conference.

Several mobile learning products have integrated the capability to send reminders and spaced knowledge checks, but they have not been implemented to any degree yet.

SpacedEd has a Beta site called Addictive Learning That Sticks using the research on the spacing effect. You can also view their list of frequently asked questions or check out the peer-reviewed research behind spaced education in their Research section.

This is how SpacedEd has structures their materials:
  • Each learner receives 2 questions every day via email.
  • If a question is answered incorrectly, it will be repeated 1 week later.
  • If a question is answered correctly, it will be repeated 3 weeks later.
  • If a question is answered correctly two times in a row, the item is retired from the course and is no longer repeated.
  • The learner completes the course when all of the questions are retired (answered correctly twice in a row).
Today MIT's Technology Review ran a story An App so You'll Never Forget: Adaptive-learning algorithms calculate how often people need to see information to remember it about a new iPhone app based in Tokyo called Smart.fm.

Spaced learning is one application of mobile learning that will grow in importance as we open our eyes to the additional capabilities afforded by using mobile devices.