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It started over night really…green and gray boxes populating the corners of my social and news feeds.

It was easy to ignore at first, but curiosity overruled annoyance and one cold and wintry night I googled… “Wordle.”

What came next felt surprisingly familiar and reminiscent of a simpler time where learning felt truly rewarding and…fun. Just 3 minutes a day of my time was all it was asking of me and yet what it gave back to me felt worth more than the time I spent.

As a faithful promoter of microlearning best practices here at Qstream, this simple game, based on the fundamentals of retrieval practice, deeply resonated with me and here’s why…

  • Only 1 Wordle game a day is released, and I have just 6 attempts to guess the correct word.
  • The path to uncover the correct word of the day sometimes requires that I dig deep into my memory to uncover words that I may not use as often.
  • When I solve or use up all my attempts, I am provided with instant feedback, such as my overall proficiency, my max streak number and how many games I’ve played to date.
  • I am encouraged to share my results, thus creating a simple but effective gamification element.


A well-designed challenge encourages the user to dig deep to remember an answer, which promotes greater long-term retention. And the repetitive nature of guessing the correct word, increases the efficacy of the retrieval practice. With every engagement, the user improves their knowledge retention and is provided a meaningful outcome through precise performance feedback and undemanding gamification.

But what’s the science behind Wordle? Why has it gone viral in a matter of weeks and been quickly snatched up by the New York Times? This highly popular app uses two principles that we at Qstream are very familiar with – the spacing and testing effects, both of which are the foundation of our microlearning and knowledge reinforcement solution.

The human brain is not built to retain information long-term. In fact, studies show that in as little as 30 days, 79% of what we learn is forgotten. The spacing effect, or spaced repetition, takes this into account and delivers information multiple times at key intervals over time when the brain is likely to forget that information. This ongoing reinforcement of knowledge enhances memory and the survival of new neurons and encodes the information so that it is retained long-term. Sorry to geek out on you there, but this stuff really is fascinating, right?

The testing effect, or retrieval practice, is used to help you recall that information at key intervals when you’re likely to forget it. Rather than just re-presenting the content, you are asked a simple question that forces you to access the information stored in your brain.

When used in conjunction, the spacing and testing effects combat the forgetting curve and lead to superior knowledge retention. Learners love how simple this learning method is. They’re asked no more than one question a day and get immediate answer feedback. Our individual and team leaderboards add some light gamification to encourage friendly competition – which, judging by the success of Wordle, people love!

To sum it up, Wordle reminds us that impactful learning activities don’t have to be overly complicated. A few questions, every other day, can engage users, allow them to effectively retrieve information, and then retain it in their long-term memory.

To learn more, download our latest white paper, Microlearning: What It Is And Why It’s The Missing Piece In Your L&D Strategy.

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