Sunday, 9 August 2015

Natural language news quiz

One of the brain training apps that I've been playing around with requires that you read some text, and then answer questions based on it. It's testing (and hopefully improving) comprehension and memory.

But why can't I do the same with an article I actually want to read, rather than some pre-defined text for the brain training app?

How would such a system work? I envisage a browser plugin or RSS reader plugin that monitors the news articles (and other web pages) you're reading, then uses Natural Language Processing technology to extract from the article information that it can quiz the user on. Then, some time after the article has been read, the plugin pops-up a quiz for the user to test their comprehension and retention.

The user's quiz performance is tracked over time to see if quizzing improves comprehension and retention.

Obviously there's an assumption that the user is going to read the whole content of everything they open, which is definitely not a valid assumption. However, a sophisticated app may be able assess what the user has read, using the following techniques:

  • The extent to which the user has scrolled down in the page / the amount of text in the visible view
  • The amount of time spent on a page
  • Eye tracking with user-facing camera
The user would be able to customise the service in the following ways:
  • Frequency of quizzes
  • Blocking specific websites / domains from being quizzed on

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