Peter Wei, a medical student at Duke, has some interesting thoughts on my post about learning and retention.  Here’s Wei, reprinted with his permission:

You’re right, there’s a substantial literature on learning loss,
yet this doesn’t seem much lamented and educators don’t seem to tackle
this specifically as a problem.

You may be aware of spaced repetition software,
electronic “flashcards” that exploit this exponential decay.  They
essentially predict when you’re about to forget each fact, and schedule
you to review that fact just when you’re about to forget it.  A friend
and I in medical school have used this with considerable success in and
it’s gained some acceptance here at Duke Med; we’re now planning to
write an instructional ebook for other med students.
One interesting feature of spaced repetition is that while it’s great
for long-term retention, it’s not the best strategy for doing well on
short-term exams. If you want to ace a test next week, the time-tested
“cram and forget” strategy is much better.  So, if it were more widely
known, the adoption of SRS could be a proxy for whether students are
studying mainly for short-term credentialing or long-term use.  SRS was
first developed for self-study language learners, who simply care about
whether or not they’re learning.  Med students have an incentive to
retain their learning long-term.  But we wouldn’t expect, say, employees
doing the more pro forma sort of corporate education to find it a good
use of their time.
Peter Wei