Thursday, May 22, 2014
But you still have to know the language into which you are translating the narrative. And learning language - whether we like it or not - involves cramming a lot of stuff into our memories. Particularly before the bar exam.
My friend and colleague at Suffolk, Gabe Teninbaum, has created a new learning platform with which law students and bar preppers can address this latter issue. He calls the product “SeRiouS,” which stands for Spaced Repetition Systems. Gabe is making the program available for free in beta mode at SpacedRepetition.com (at least) through the July 2014 bar exam.
Although the very thought of cramming sends chills down my spine, sometimes you gotta do it (I took the MPRE to be admitted to the Massachusetts bar seven years ago and it was an unpleasant flashback!). Crammers know what the studies bear out: you forget most of what you crammed (66%) within 24 hours, and almost all of it (79%) within a month.
Gabe's claim (give it a try!) is that SeRiouS improves the memory retention rate to 92% for as long as the student is using the system, and takes less time than traditional methods.
To slow the rate at which users forget, SeRiouS shows them online flashcards and, after each one, prompts the user to report how well he or she knew the answer after flipping it over. If the user knew it well, the card won't reappear for a longer time; if the user struggled to remember, SeRiouS will shown it again sooner. Based on these answers, SeRiouS’s algorithm customizes itself to the user’s personal rate of forgetting, and then uses that information to prompt studying at just the right time.
With spaced repetition, as with any other cramming, it’s “garbage in, garbage out.” In other words, if the content of the flash cards stinks, so will the memorized result. Currently, SeRious has 600+ law professor-created flashcards on the topics most likely to be tested on the Multistate Bar Exam and in core law school courses.
The system works on any device as long as there’s internet access. SeRiouS updates constantly based on users’ work, and individual users’ data is stored in the cloud.
I don't endorse commercial products, but this one is free for the time being. You can also reach Gabe with questions, comments or feedback.