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The Christmas Creative Challenge!

“some partially organised neurons; perhaps pre-Memrise”

It has been a pretty awesome first full year of operations for Memrise: tens of thousands of users have learned millions upon millions of words.

Which means that trillions of neurons all over the world have been coaxed into shape and a veritable forest of memory flowers has been grown. We’re pretty stoked about this, but we are only just getting started!

The Memrise mission has always been to help anyone learn anything in a fast, fun and engaging way. So far we have focused on vocabulary. This will always continue to be a key part of Memrise, and we have got a ton more awesome developments in the pipeline to make vocab learning even faster and more effective. But as the year draws to a close and we each take stock and make resolutions about the year ahead, we think that the time is ripe to ask our users, “what else do you want to learn?”.

“You are a mammal, so it is only polite that you learned to identify some of your fellow ones isn’t it?”

A glance through the fertile backwaters of the “beta topics” uncovers the fact that a lot of people have been having a lot of fun with this already: sets teaching everything from capitals of the world to musical theory terms to the Californian penal code have already been created. To these we have recently added, courtesy of the artist Alan Baker, a range of courses to teach the different mammals, reptiles, wild flowers, fruits and creepy crawlies found on The Guardian’s famous wall charts.

But we want more, and we want to bring these courses to centre stage!

To achieve this, over the next three weeks we are going to be running an online Memathon – a burst of focused activity to create courses to learn anything and everything. All you have to do is to come up with lists of things that you want to know, and then we will all set about making them gloriously memorable. At the end of the Memathon, on the 7th of January, the best 12 courses will be promoted to a featured spot on the home page so that everyone can easily find them and learn them. Course creators and mem writers alike will be honoured and will bask in eternal glory.

“I am going to be eating all of these and then writing mems as a feeble excuse for my gluttony.”

What sort of courses might you make? Well, I live in a country (China) where good cheese is all but unattainable; however my parents are visiting for Christmas and bringing with them a cornucopia. So we are going to to indulge ourselves on these long winter evenings by adding tasting notes and identifying descriptions to as many of the 36 cheeses in the Guardian wall chart that their packing allowed room for. Mmmmm. Greg’s festive season meanwhile will be spent elucidating the differences between styles of classical music, while Ed tells me that he plans to curate the definitive guide to the 200 sexual configurations of the kama sutra. Ahem… moving on.

So think of something that you wish that you knew: maybe you always wanted to be able to identify birds by their song? Or to impress your friends with your encyclopaedic knowledge of wine varieties of northern Italy? Or perhaps you long to be able to quote, at will, the famous last words of historical figures or the first lines of famous books?

Whatever it is, now is the time to learn it! Take a look through the courses that are already available:

  • check out the courses made from Alan Baker’s illustrations
  • try adding some mems to glorify them
  • see what ideas they give you of other things that you want to learn
  • search through the “all languages” section to see what you can unearth

If you can’t find the course that you want to learn, then that is the best possible news – you can now become the founder of your own topic! Just:

  • go to languages
  • click “create your own” – and you are off!
  • Then post to the general discussion forum to let us all know that you are getting started, and ask other people to help you to make the course great.

We are on constant call  to advise on all matters mnemonic, answer questions and offer kind words of encouragement. There are a multitude of cunning tricks that you can employ to make the system work better for you: you can add in images instead of words; add music as an audio accompaniment; embed videos and make full use of all the testing types that are available to you.

The richer the content the more fun the course will be to learn. Just get in touch and we will be more than happy to help!

And, as if that weren’t all excitement enough, Ed has personally pledged to send a peat-smoked scottish salmon to the creator of the best course. So what do you wish you knew? Whether it be Guardian wallcharts or a new language, get creating and get learning!

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