The first requirement for the system I’ve been putting together as a thought experiment that would accredit memorisation (see my three previous posts for some background) would be an infinite set of well tagged questions.
I think this is the easiest part of the system to put in place. We are all aware of the success of crowdsourcing as a way to provide content (think wikipedia). So why don’t we put together an open source question base?
Since this learning system is simply about fluency of recall, all we need are questions about stuff. And lots of them.
It isn’t simply about the questions. in order to make this a memorisation/learning environment, the questions have to be tagged – well tagged. This is necessary so that users can focus on their own learning desires.
The kind of tagging that would make this system useful has three varieties of tags: content domain, source, and event.
The content domain tags are the most obvious. Libraries have spent centuries (literally) organising knowledge into content domains. There are wonderful hierarchal systems that allow users to find learning resources (books, articles, papers, websites, posts, pictures, videos – and who knows what else) within a specific content domain. We haven’t been all that great at tagging these resources, but there’s no reason we can’t start. Within the new question base, an easy to use content domain tagging system is a must.
The second set of tags ahas to do with sources. Knowledge is found somewhere, and if questions can be tagged with a specific source, that makes them all the more powerful. Specific books, journal articles, or web-articles (think wikipedia) would allow users (both learners and contributors) to specify exactly where the information comes from that needs to be memorised to a fluent level. Teachers (face to face or virtual) could then specify both content domain and source, along with the required level of proficiency, for an event (discussion, seminar series etc.) required for the learner to be able to participate fluently.
Finally, event tags could be included so that learners could prepare themselves for the kind of events specified above. They could even be specified for traditional assessment events (mid-term or final exams).
Properly tagged, an infinite number of questions embedded in a threshold learning system, could provide learners and educators with an invaluable tool for the foundational learning we call memorisation.