We talk about spaced learning a lot at Synap, the algorithms have been at the heart of our system since the beginning, and have helped thousands of people learn more in less time. This documentation aims to provide some clarity around the terms we use, how spaced learning works, who it works for and when to use it.

Overview of Spaced Learning & Spaced Repetition

Spaced Learning is the system Synap uses to break down learning and show users what they need to study, when they need to see it. The system is based on the concept of Spaced Repetition, a simple but highly effective method of learning that has been designed around how the brain actually works, boostin long-term knowledge retention

Spaced Repetition is the approach to learning of: little but often

Spaced Repetition isn't a new idea it was first described in the 1800's by German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus. He stated that learning should be spaced out and repeated to mitigate the effects of forgetting. The forgetting curve shows the effects that time has on learning something new.

On day one if you learn something new for the next few hours you may have perfect recall (retention) of that information but by day 7 there is a very good chance that you have forgotten all of it again. The solution to this is to have fewer gaps in the time that you review the material. The Synap system does this by creating personalised quizzes to jog your memory of what you have learned at specific intervals.


Spaced Learning: a system developed by Synap to help individuals learn information and recall it in the long term. It is based on the neurological principle of Spaced Repetition. Spaced Learning personalises learning based on Spaced Repetition.

Spaced Repetition: An established method for mitigating the effects of short term memory loss following learning new information, by reviewing and recalling that information at distinct time intervals to optimise knowledge retention.

Can Spaced Learning help all of my students?

Simply put, no it can't. People have a huge range of learning styles so to claim that there is a one size that fits all when it comes to learning or revision . With learning there is no one size fits all, so Spaced Learning doesn’t work for everyone. We have identified two broad use cases for Synap and we will advise you on whether Spaced Learning will work with your system and goals.

Case 1: Softer skills and subjective content

  • Spaced learning is not suitable for organisations wanting to implement softer skills training, this is because in order to assess areas of strengths and weakness the system needs data which comes from answering multiple choice questions. Not using multiple choice questions or testing users cannot take advantage of Spaced Repetition as the goals and individual learning experience for that content is much more subjective

Case 2: Exams, MCQs , Auditing and pass marks

  • Spaced Learning works really well when users have many MCQs to practice from, and acts as the perfect compliment to self studying, and can get users to a required pass mark either for exams or auditing purposes. In this environment Spaced Learning has demonstrated a 30% score improvement compared to users who were self studying and ignoring the system recommendations. For organisations that follow this case auditing and providing a paper trail of training is also very important, Synap provides detailed reports and logs in individuals, groups and cohorts on what training they have completed, how many times they have practiced it, their average score, improvements and engagement with content.

How does Spaced Learning work?

On Synap each user has a study bank, which defines the material the user is currently trying to learn. This can be filled manually by the student collecting multiple choice questions (MCQs) from quizzes or collections that they want to study. A study bank more often than not is filled automatically as the users do assignments where spaced learning is set as an assignment passing requirement.

As the bank fills up, users are told which questions they’ve never seen before and which questions they’re on the path to mastering. This path is where spaced learning comes in. Synap automatically decides which questions a student needs to see on a particular day, and creates a personalised quiz based on those questions. That quiz is then sent to the user via email or push notification depending on the preferences the user has selected. The number of questions in the quiz also varies depending on preferences, typically quizzes are designed to take somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. As a user gets questions right they will begin to see those questions less and less frequently with an emphasis on weak or yet to be seen material. The aim of this is for the user to prove that they can recall information into the long term until it is mastered. At any time a user can logon and self study their study.

Spaced Learning Boxes:

Weak = Frequently

Moderate = mildly frequently

Strong = infrequently

Mastered = never (reset?)

Spaced Learning Preferences:

Light = 5-10 qs

Moderate = 15-20 qs

Heavy = 25-30 qs

If I have both an assignment with MCQs in it and a collection assigned to a user will both sets of questions go into the users Spaced Learning?

Yes. MCQs from a collection will go into a users study as soon as they enter a group with the collection assigned to them. For assignments users will only see Spaced Learning MCQs in their study when they are at the stage in the assignment where Spaced Learning becomes activated. At this point they will see a mixture of question from their assignment and anything else from the assigned collections.

For portals that have enabled user control of their study, those students can remove MCQs from collections from their study but not MCQs from assignments.

Inactivated Spaced Learning = users will not be sent questions, however they can still view their bank as a whole and see how far they have progressed from passive studying.

Activated Spaced Learning = Users will be able to add and remove things from their study and passively create their own spaced learning quizzes if they wish too


Library: A collection of different types of content that admins and moderators use to make a course, a student does not have access to this it is for admins and moderators to make a course from

Course: A linear collection of learning material from a library

Assignment: The assigned course to a user or group, the task of completing a course.

Collections: A collection of different types of contents that students do have access to, unlike courses they are not linear and students can self study which ever items are in the collection

MCQs: Multiple choice questions, used to determine progress, strengths and weaknesses.

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