Memory is the water that’s in the bucket of our brain. It doesn’t matter if the bucket is half full or it’s up to the brim, some of the water evaporates. So does memory because our brain can take only so much.
When it comes to memory, the “˜R’ for “recollection” is always aided by another “˜R’, and that’s “revision” (or repetition). It is not only an important study skill, but a skill of life as well that calls for us to harp on the same strings to maintain the health of our mind.
With technology has come some great study tools. Simon’s post on 3 Great Online Tools to Improve Study Skills & Get Better Grades, gives an idea of the promise when computers and the web come to assist learning.
Flash cards, mind maps and cheat sheets are very much real-world tools. It’s just that their virtual avatars have extended the possibilities of use and reuse.
Take flash cards for example. Flash cards are simple set of cards which have a question on one side and the answer on the reverse. Read the question, try to recall the answer and flip the card over to check. It’s a simple and cheap but a very effective memory aid.
Headmagnet is another in the queue of free online flash card applications. But it hopes to jump to the head of the line with its unique selling proposition”¦it predicts when you are most likely to forget. By the way, the word “˜Selling’ is just to honor the acronym”¦the online web app is completely free.
Headmagnet’s About page mentions that its backend tech is based on the ACT-R cognitive architecture developed at Carnegie Mellon University.
For me and you, it simply means that Headmagnet analyses our flash card reading scores and gauges the rate of our forgetfulness. Using that data, Headmagnet helps us study more effectively by predicting and proposing when to review the study material.
So here’s me logging into Headmagnet to take them up on their word.
Headmagnet welcomes me with a few sample lists setup. That’s just to get me acquainted with how the system works. Notice the In Head section on the right. That’s the scoreboard to keep our eyes on. The main action areas are mentioned in a series on the top – My Lists, My Head, Friends, Profile, and Settings.
These are groupings of items I am in the process of studying. A few default list types (templates) are already included like one for vocabulary or the one for names and faces. Adjoining the lists are the ways one can use to go through them.
For instance, for my vocabulary refresher, I can take a word and recall its definition or vice versa. I can also tweak the study modes to suit my learning style.
I guess I will click the bright orange button and create my own list. Below is a little sample list of words I am trying to learn. As I add each new word to the list, it gets added to the Items on the right. Using the dropdown, I can view the Items either by way of questions or its answers.
But for a word buff like me the best feature is the Add New Field. For instance, I added an Image field that will complement my learning of new words by bringing up associated word images (I took the images from my HDD and the web).
After making a choice of the privacy settings (kept it open for Friends), I start my vocabulary training by clicking on Study Now. Clicking on Add to My Head, next to it will put it among the favorite lists which I want to study over a long term.
The screen goes grey for a moment and this is what I see ““
I can also create my own study modes with a slew of customization options.
Then a few personalization settings for the study session”¦
Then the questions for which I have to think up the answers and accordingly self check myself with the response. A timer on top ticks away for the duration of the test.
The test cycles back to the incorrect response and quits only when I have them all right.
This is the section where, Headmagnet helps us to predict when we will forget the learnt items. My Head displays all lists which you want to learn over a period of time and also displays the current level of strength for each list through a colored bar.
As memory levels start to decay, the color goes from green to orange and then red. The system also prompts us to review the items. Right now, for my lists I don’t have anything to review.
With a large number of lists, it’s better to prioritize by clicking on the stars.
I shared my first list with my friends and build up a community of shared lists. The other two options are Private and Public. The other way to take Headmagnet to a wider audience is by linking it to Facebook.
Flashing Our Memory
From log-in to the first list, takes about 5 minutes. It’s easier to operate if you watch the basic video on the homepage and then do the tour to understand all the features.
Free online flash cards are simple devices by themselves. Headmagnet makes the learning simpler by giving a variety of ways to structure the Item lists and the lessons. From straight Q&A to multiple choice tests and slide shows”¦one can be one’s own tutor.
The scaled grading system and the predictive review helps us to keep tabs on how we are doing with the lessons.
As free online flash card applications go, Headmagnet is one of the more flexible ones around. Take a few lessons and let us know your score for it.