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Memory-Based Adaptive Learning

Adaptive Learning is actually not one thing, but takes several forms. Two common types, for example, are skills based and memory based. When you’re choosing courseware for your class, be sure it’s adaptive in the right way for your students.

Take, for example, memory: helping students remember facts and concepts. Some subjects, like Anatomy, require lots of memorization. But even subjects that focus on critical thinking need students to remember facts and concepts to make an argument.

As a student, you probably used, or even made, your own memory-based adaptive learning tool. You probably called them flash cards. Perhaps you had a stack that you used to quiz yourself. Whenever you got one right, you removed that card. If you got it wrong, maybe you put it at the bottom of the stack and quizzed yourself again later.

You may have noticed that flash cards didn’t work perfectly. You might have remembered something during your practice but still forgot it on the test. This is called memory decay, and unfortunately, it happens to everyone. So, if you were really diligent, maybe you practiced with the flash cards more than once. You probably noticed that you remembered more on the test if you went through the cards once, put them down for a while, and then went through them again later. This is called spaced repetition.

Turns out that there’s science behind this. Spaced repetition does help prevent memory decay. People who study memory know a lot about how often and how far apart you need to be quizzed to have the best chance of remembering it.

Memory-based adaptive learning products work like smart flash cards. They put cards back in the stack and requiz the students automatically, based on what we know about spaced repetition and memory decay. They can remind students when it’s time to practice again. And they can determine when students remember well enough that they don’t need to be quizzed again.

Memory-based adaptive learning products can help students who think they’ve learned important facts make sure that they have. (see more blogs about education technology)

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