Spaced repetition learning games on mobile devices

Florian Schimanke (Department of Computer Science, HSW University of Applied Sciences, Hamelin, Germany)
Robert Mertens (Department of Computer Science, HSW University of Applied Sciences, Hamelin, Germany)
Oliver Vornberger (Department of Computer Science, University of Osnabrueck, Osnabrueck, Germany)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Publication date: 9 September 2014



The purposes of this paper are to implement a spaced repetition algorithm into a learning game, analyze the pros and cons of this implementation and make different considerations about designing the game to make the algorithm work in an optimal way. While games offer a promising way of engaging and motivating learners to deal with a certain topic, repetitions foster immersing this topic sustainably. Those repetitions should be done at sophistically determined intervals to maximize learning outcomes.


The work is implemented as two prototype learning games which use the SM2 algorithm for content selection and repetition scheduling. Based on our findings about user behavior, this study developed an auxiliary algorithm to aid SM2 in the special setting of a learning game. To design the game in a way which supports the spaced repetition approach, this study have analyzed best-practices in this domain and made some considerations for adapting them accordingly.


An auxiliary algorithm is needed to support the usage of common spaced repetition algorithms in mobile learning games. Best-practices in designing those games need to be to suit the spaced repetitions approach.

Practical implications

This paper shows the benefits of combining learning games with the spaced repetition approach and points out specifics in designing spaced repetition based mobile learning games.


While spaced repetitions are already commonly used with other types of learning, it has yet to be implemented in learning games. This study’s approach shows ways to do this and which considerations have to be made.



Schimanke, F., Mertens, R. and Vornberger, O. (2014), "Spaced repetition learning games on mobile devices", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 201-222.

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