The simplicity is deceptive.
My app, Cognaware, is finished. I’m certain that there are still bugs to work out, but it appears to work fine.
There is one very good reason to download it and use it – self-awareness. That’s all there is to it. All of the benefits of this app are summed up in those two words. Self-awareness.
The metacognitive benefits come from being aware of what you know and what you don’t know. This benefit and the connection to the app have been demonstrated repeatedly. By asking you to think about whether you know something or not, your self-awareness is increased.
A possibly critical benefit surrounds Alzheimer’s Dementia. While I was developing the original experiments and underlying theoretical thinking, I had a conversation with a leading researcher in the area of Alzheimer’s. While we were talking about what I was doing, she said that there was research going on in the area that might be relevant. The self-awareness that accompanies “knowing what you know and knowing what you don’t know” is thought to be affected by Alzheimer’s. In fact, there is a subpopulation of people who, while they develop Alzheimer’s, have the onset of the serious cognitive decline commonly associated with Alzheimer’s delayed, sometimes for years. There is some thinking that would suggest that the delay is a result of exercising metacognitive awareness in everyday living. In my discussions, I realized that something as simple as Cognaware might be sensitive to the onset of Alzheimer’s and provide an early warning indicator for the associated cognitive decline, and there is a possibility that the continued use of Cognaware might reduce the cognitive decline seen as the disease progresses. This is unproven, but if I can develop the app sufficiently, this could be tested.
Wouldn’t it be great if something as simple as Cognaware could be used as a sensitive and early indicator for Alzheimer’s?
A researcher that I used to take my daily walks with, worked in the area of gambling addictions. In our conversations, he asked me when I was going to develop an app that he could use to help treat gambling addictions. He said that his thinking is that gambling addictions are, in part, a result of a lack of self-awareness. Addicted gamblers lack the insight to realize that they are no different than other people and that the probabilities that accompany losing apply as much to them as to the sucker across from them at the table. His thinking is that even a slight increase in self-awareness would lead to this lack of insight being an avenue for treatment. In my conversations since another researcher of addictions said that his work leads him to believe that this lack of self-awareness and insight underlies many addictions in general. He was also interested in using my app to see if this slight increase in self-awareness associated with Cognaware might be a useful tool to help with addictions.
Cognaware requires you to stop and think about the answer you select for the questions you are asked. That extra bit of thinking is a “desirable difficulty” that slows down the learning process and required a slightly deeper level of thinking. This slightly deeper level of thinking has demonstrated, over and over again, to increase the ability to recall information.
A brilliant way to learn material.
The app has been released in its most basic form. Further development is needed to allow me to invite others to use Cognaware as a research tool. This same development is needed to make the app useful in the classroom as a learning tool. In addition, further, development is necessary in order for me to incorporate a way to organize the question banks and make the app easy to set up for research/teaching purposes.