I’d like to see the “Items due” count be less important and/or smarter.
Currently Skritter is a game with two kinds of scores:
- how many words/characters/items I know
- how many review items I have due
#1 is super motivating, and I love to watch it grow.
#2 is rather depressing, and I hate it.
I’d like Skritter to let me forget words (I know – heresy!!) and help me study what’s important.
I know I can ban words from study, but I wish there was an automatic way for words that are not important to quietly fade into the background, unless I explicitly say: I need to know this.
As your average dumb learner of Chinese, I tend to dump a bunch of vocabulary into Skritter, not all of which is very useful. And so Skritter becomes a trap that I set for myself. Pretty soon I have thousands of items due, many of them obscure words that at one time I thought I might want to learn.
Skritter is already the closest thing to a game that any study tool has ever been for me. But the assumption that the goal is to remember everything I put into it is not realistic and, what’s worse, is no fun.
What’s fun is learning new things and reassuring me that I know a bunch of things.
What’s depressing is when Skritter becomes a machine to remind me how much I forget.
No-fun-Skritter constantly sends me the message: you forgot this, and this, and this, and this… And you must not learn anything new until you remember everything you ever tried to learn!
So I wish Skritter got smarter and somehow split items into at least these categories:
- what I know
- what I forgot and is kind of important
- what I forgot and probably doesn’t matter and can wait to be reviewed on some rainy day when I really have nothing better to do
- what I don’t know but will be fun and valuable to learn ASAP.
I also wish Skritter, like any patient teacher worth his salt, didn’t push me too hard, and spent more time positively reinforcing me than constantly shaking its virtual head at me.
Another way to look at all my Skritter items is to split them into 2 groups:
- a big, ill-defined blob of what I know, what I sort of know, and what I don’t know;
- what I need to know right now because I will be tested on it or need it for some current activity like reading a book or whatever.
It’s OK if Skritter is a bit strict as it prompts me to study for the second group, because that’s my priority of the moment.
For the first group, things can be more easygoing. And Skritter should naturally orient me to study and review the low-hanging fruit.
Finally, a score that would make more sense to me than “items due” is a realistic “how much I know”. I fully expect “how much I know” to go down when I haven’t studied for a while. I wouldn’t be depressed as long as I also saw it go back up after I’d done a lot of reviewing. But the current situation seems to be that “how much I know” never goes down, or hardly so (to spare my feelings?), while “items due” balloons in no time and stays big forever unless I make a superhuman effort to make Skritter forgive me for not having spent an hour a day working on it, every day, forever.
It’s a bit as if, when I play Tetris, the score displayed was negative: you are currently 325,652 points below your best score! Do you want to keep playing? OK. Congratulations, you are now 323,729 points below your best score. Keep it up!..