How Brainscape The Best Flashcards App Was Born

Modified on by Andrew Cohen



Thought bulb, the brainscape story

Brainscape wasn’t always a multi-user web and mobile learning application.  It actually began as a simple Excel macro for learning French words and verb conjugations, which I developed to teach myself French while living in Martinique several years ago.  Only by recruiting a strong team, testing a series of prototypes, and acquiring a solid body of supporting research have we been able to grow Brainscape into the game-changing best flashcards app company you see today.

The Evolution of Brainscape

My original Excel-based Brainscape prototype was simple yet somewhat cumbersome.  Each day, I would take a few dozen French word pairs, and I would give them each a code letter according to how confident I felt in them.  I would then dump the coded words into a master spreadsheet and run an algorithm that selected a sub-set of several other words based on how “stale” or under-confident they were.  The system worked very efficiently for memorizing words but required a significant amount of manual work as I re-categorized and re-sorted lists of them.  I continued to improve the spaced repetition algorithm when I moved to Panama for the following year and had to improve my Spanish.  I then realized that the method could be much more useful for the general public if only it could be automated, web-based, and accessible via a mobile phone.

One year and several brainstorming sessions later, I had enrolled in a graduate program in educational technology at Columbia University, with the precise goal of developing such an accessible software solution.  I was able to structure nearly every course project, as well as my graduate project and thesis, around the software and theoretical components necessary to support the Brainscape vision.  This set the foundation for my ability to begin building a team of world-class software developers and interns after obtaining my degree.

The Brainscape team is now very strong and growing all the time thanks to users like you.  With your continued support, we will continue to improve our online flashcard maker and our business in order to make learning more convenient and effective than ever before.



Brainscape is a web & mobile education platform that helps you learn anything faster, using cognitive science. Join the millions of students, teachers, language learners, test-takers, and corporate trainees who are doubling their learning results. Visit brainscape.com or find us on the App Store .

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