The Learning Glossary

Yikes. A glossary. It sounds so formal.


But some of the words used on the site are a bit technical in nature and warrant some explanation. So here we go. I’ve written these definitions to capture the understanding I have of them from science coupled with how I intend to use them on this site.

An autodidact is someone who teaches him or herself. If you’re reading this, you’re an autodidact.

Deliberate Practice is studying or practicing something in a metacognitive way (see below). It involves being hyper-aware of the mistakes you’re making and correcting them as wholly as possible. It is a systematic approach to fixing your errors made potent by a ruthless self-awareness. It’s exhausting.

Metacognition is “thinking about thinking.” You could say it is the process of being self-aware. It’s hard, but can be learned. It is what makes deliberate practice possible.

Commitment Devices are psychological hacks to keep you working towards your goals.

Transfer is the ability to take what is learned into the real world. Every learning technique transfers to some degree, but ultimately the efficiency of transfer determines how much can actually be used.

Chunking is turning lots of little bits of information into one “glob” of information that’s easier to remember. It’s a trick the brain uses to be able to remember more information, by packing it down. Here’s how it’s used in music, chess, and other skills.

Decay is a perhaps a better word for “forgetting.” Memories decay and muscles atrophy. These facts are the enemy, of a sorts, in the game of learning.

Playing is a natural state. It is something many mammals do for the purposes of socialization and learning.

Games are a form of artistic expression that result in a state of a play.

What it All Means

So when I say that I wish to use games to make learning fun, what I mean is that I am attempting to use game design principles to harness the natural learning power of the state of mental play to influence skill acquisition.

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