Repetition – The Killer Learning App!

REPETITIONWe’ve all, I hope, heard about the benefits of spaced repetition. But hearing about it is one thing. Implementing it as a learning solution is quite another. We all know that repeating small chunks of information at timed intervals is the key to solidifying new information into memory. I think Duolingo is the current poster child for an application making use of spaced repetition. Read about it, check out Duolingo, and let’s continue this specific conversation later. Understanding spaced repetition is just the setup for what I really want to share with you in this post.

As someone always on the hunt for connections, I was delighted to discover Elizabeth Margulis, Ph.D. recently.

“Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, author of On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind, directs the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas. Her research uses theoretical, behavioral, and neuroimaging methodologies to investigate the dynamic, moment-to-moment experience of listeners without special musical training. She was also trained as a concert pianist.”

Check out her long bio here. Her research and her book are all about why we love repetition in music. I couldn’t help but wonder about how this might relate to spaced repetition in learning. I have not read the book, but it’s on order from And she recently started a new blog titled Looking at Listening for Psychology Today.

I discovered this TEDed video from a tweet by Adnan Iftekhar (@adnanedtech). Check it out.

I love the idea of “The Mere Exposure Effect”. Did you catch that in the video? This is exactly what I’m referring to when I reference marketing professionals as knowing more about learning than we do. We try all sorts of complicated academic “learning methods” to get people to learn and remember information. And marketing professionals keep it simple and rely on the mere exposure effect. Okay, so yes, it’s more complicated than that…but is it? Think about it for a later discussion…

Finding Dr. Margulis and her research reminded me of the amazing Bobby McFerrin “playing the audience” using the pentatonic scale. We’re all familiar with the tone patterns of the pentatonic scale whether we think we are or not. We’ve been exposed to them our whole lives. Watch the video but don’t stop it right when McFerrin sits down. The last 30 secs are great. I love how the academics (I’m assuming) on the panel react.

Repetition works. So, are you using it in your corporate training strategy? Why not? Does your tool of choice support spaced repetition? Are you concerned about annoying your learners?

Or is it that we feel like repetition is like “studying”. And therefore the responsibility of the learner to leave our perfect classroom or eLearning course and go back to their desks and continue to learn on their own. Perhaps?

Let me know what you think!


Let me know what you think!


Let me know what you think!


Background image The Beat Goes On by HippieDude