Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Cerego Hacks Your Personal Learning Style to Help You Remember Anything

Cerego today launches a tool that aims to help us actually retain what we’re learning.

Cerego_MemoryBank_OverviewIt’s an educational product that caters to the individual student by quizzing you and tracking your pace, speed of response and accuracy. Then it tells you when to study again, and reorders the questions appropriately so as best to increase your personal information absorption and decrease your memory decay.

Users can see how well they’re doing with a scatter plot of their performance on every quiz question. Cerego co-founder Andrew Smith Lewis calls this “quantified self from the neck up.”

For now, Cerego users can make their own courses and take ones from other users. They can train themselves on the Web and also with an iPhone app. Later this year, the company plans to incorporate more content from academic institutions, which in some cases will be offered as premium courses.

Cerego comes from a 13-year-old company that was formerly based in Japan and focused on English language-learning. It has raised $28 million from individual investors over those many years, and is not yet profitable.

Now headquartered in Millbrae, Calif., Smith Lewis and company say they have learned a whole lot about how brains learn over those years. Cerego was previously called Smart.fm, and also launched a language study guide product called iKnow at one of our D conferences. This latest product has been in private beta for much of the last year, but is now open to the public.

Cerego fits in with some other smart learning and memory technology startups like Duolingo and Lumosity, but the difference is that it wants to be an open tool. Already, the Gates Foundation, charter school network Academica and MOOC platform edX are testing Cerego for their own courses.

Cerego is also working on an admin tool for teachers to be able to see how well their students are doing and how often they are studying. That kind of supervision sounds a bit scary to me, as someone who may have last-minute crammed for a test or two back in my school days.

But that’s actually the point, according to Cerego CEO Eric Young. “Cramming is just a tool that people have developed to pass tests,” he said. “It’s not actually learning.”

And Cerego is trying to make it easier and more efficient to learn — not just make people more accountable — Young said. “Little and often is the magic formula for learning, and the mobile app is perfect for that.”


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus