Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Creating Memrise courses

26th October, 2014

I’ve been a fan of Memrise for quite some time now, and recently I got back in to learning Chinese with it.

I thought I would have a bit of a go at creating courses with it myself. The first attempt, Counties of England, took a couple of hours. A fair chunk of this was sorting out the images for it, but I initially set levels for each region (e.g. East of England, West Midlands, South West). After trying it I found this to not be too useful when you’re actually learning. So I shuffled which counties appear in which level; this means you get a variety each time, spread out across the country, and I find the learning is easier at each level.

The second course, States of the USA took about an hour, as I took the approach from the England one first time around. I divided the US into 6 vertical strips, and picked one state from each strip for each level, giving you a geographical spread each time (level 8 is a bit longer to mop up the extras).

One of the things I really like about Memrise is it gives you the ability to create a “database” with your data in it. For these two courses I simply needed a state or county, and an image of its location. But you can add many more fields top each entry, displaying or testing upon them at different levels. This means you can build a quite comprehensive course, such as the Chinese ones, where you teach various properties of entities at different levels (recognising Chinese characters is one thing, remembering their pronunciation is something else entirely!)

Of course such methods are only really suitable for learning where there is a set of things that need to be recalled, either by rote or on sight. So locations of counties or states is a good one, but the various histories of such things would not be such a good topic I believe.

I’m hoping to create a few more courses for things I would like to be able to remember (to help my awful memory if nothing else) so keep up on my Memrise profile.

They also have an intriguing prize they are running between now and February next year which I may take another look at.