The Memrise 1.0 course creation tools are all new, and they are quite unlike anything else that you will have used before. So we have started this Manual of Style so that we can all start exchanging ideas on the best ways to use them in the best possible way. Your feedback is crucial, so please do tell us what you like, what you don't like, and what you would like to try out. Together we can reinvent the way that everyone learns everything, forever.
First, some background about how Memrise 1.0 works…
There are 3 sides to the content on Memrise:
Dictionaries are databases that multiple people can work on together: many hands make light work. Wikipedia is the most famous wiki in the world, but there are many others; indeed there are hundreds of wikis just on Memrise.
Dictionaries can be set up on Memrise for any topic: for example there are wikis for hundreds of language pairs, professional qualifications, random trivia etc.
These wikis contain the basic facts that are learned on Memrise, together with extra information that is important to help with learning. Eg in language wikis, there is information about part of speech, verb conjugation, alternative meanings, as well as audio recordings of people saying the words.
When you create a course, you can draw from the wikis to fill up your course databases with words, definitions, audio and mems.
The content of the wikis is totally free for everyone to use and to learn. Think of the wiki content as the base level on which all other learning is built. The higher we raise that base, by improving the content of the wikis the better the tools that are available for everyone.
Accordingly, the more you contribute to the wikis, the better your reputation on the site, and the more prominent the courses you create will be (this is not yet live on the 1.0 site, but we are storing the data, and will display it soon!).
At their simplest, they are just fact-learning levels containing the wiki information, combined with mems. We know that the Memrise learning tool helps people to learn facts faster than any other method in the world. So that is a good start; but it isn't enough!
Courses should be a vehicle to express all your love and excitement and enthusiasm for the subject that you are teaching. They should be experimental, quirky, engaging and personal. They should never feel like a lecture; they should feel like a story. The multimedia levels are the main tool for doing this.
Think of your course as a story that you are telling; the onus is on you to keep the learner engaged, just as it would be if you were telling an anecdote, for example. Try out anything that you can think of that might do that. Memrise will make sure that they learn all the facts; you need to keep them excited about learning more of them.
When you are making your course, you should address the learner's..
- …needs: choose the facts they need to learn to reach the aim of that course, and arrange them in a meaningful order
- …questions: try to imagine what questions will be forming in their mind, and then answer them with a quick, light explanation ( perhaps through a multimedia level)
- …emotions: keep on giving your learners that magical glow of enlightenment that comes from making sense of something that used to be nonsense. That will give them the motivation to go on. Don't bore them or overload them or otherwise do things that will lose their attention
Suggestions of how to think about the purpose of the levels
- Learn facts that can change your perception and engagement with the world.
- Foreign words
- Historical facts / context
- Jargon, technical vocab
- Recognising animals, plants, works of art
- Building contextual framework so that you can understand what you see and hear more richly
- Explanation and elaboration.
- explanation: explain more background about the bare facts. Most important case of this is probably grammar rules. This is needed, but these should be kept as succinct as possible - grammatical explanation are very dull to read. They should be mixed in with lots of learning levels that give the feeling of progress, and "application" multimedia levels
- Elaboration: take a historical date, and add more information about why that date is important. Hang something extra on that peg of knowledge.
- Give that magical glow of enlightenment; the learner watches/listens to/reads the multimedia, and they understand it, and they know that before they had learned what they just learned, they wouldn't have understood it. We may even let them watch these levels before they start, just to make the contrast clear, and give that sense of enlightenment more intensity.
- e.g. An article or a video that uses vocab just learned
- Overall theme and structure to the path
- People like to know where they are going. Give them a sense of the journey and they will be more interested in keeping on going there