Spaced repetition memory systems can be used to prompt application, synthesis, and creation

A Spaced repetition memory system like Anki is primarily designed to help people memorize a lot of declarative knowledge, like vocabulary. But the same mechanisms can be used to create relatively unorthodox cards which prompt application, synthesis, and creation.

One limit to these types of questions is that because you authored them, you have to leave the context relatively vague: “apply the lens of utilitarianism to a recent decision,” rather than “apply the lens of utilitarianism to the death penalty.” The latter question’s not very helpful if you wrote it: you would have already thought through the answer, so it’d really just be a memory prompt when you saw it again later. This limitation makes the idea described here promising: The mnemonic medium can help readers apply what they’ve learned through simple application prompts.



Twitter post, 2018-03-11:

Conversation with Michael Nielsen, 2020-01-01

Last updated 2023-07-13.