The Old Way of Doing Things
We’re all familiar with flash cards. The concept is simple. Small pieces of card with a question on one side and the answer on the other. They can be carried around in your pocket ready for review at anytime. In my experience they are mostly used for cramming before a test or learning words from a foreign language.
I find flash cards to be inconvenient and boring. I don’t want to cut pieces of card and it’s never pleasant when they drop out your hand and need to be picked up.
The New Way of Doing Things
I’m constantly amazed at how technology advances. We seem to jump leaps and bounds with a few blinks of an eye. However, with all the amazing technology available I find the ideas which use the simplest of technologies often prove to be the most useful.
Ever since I discovered Anki it’s been a big part of my study for language and university. There’s only one way to describe Anki and that’s “digital flashcards on steroids” I believe everyone can find a place for Anki no matter what you’re learning.
Anki uses what’s called a ‘spaced repetition system‘ Think of it as a large database which stores everything you want to remember. There’s no need to worry about forgetting a fact because Anki will present it for review at the point you’re most likely to forget. The idea is to drill facts into your long term memory through constant exposure.
I was skeptical at first. The thought of allowing a computer to tell me when I need to review a fact was a little scary. A few months later and I can say that I have had no problems. The system works beautifully.
1. Anki is Free
I don’t think I need to say more. There’s nothing to lose. Give it a go. It’s free.
2. Anki is Available Everywhere You Go
There are versions of Anki available for Apple, Android and Blackberry devices. Most of us carry a mobile with us everywhere. With the free cloud sync you’ll have your flash cards available with you everywhere you go.
For those of you that don’t have any of the devices mentioned you’ll be happy to hear that Anki also syncs with an online interface, also available free! The internet is available pretty much everywhere these days, right?
3. Anki Makes Revision Effortless
When I use Anki I sit back and flick through my cards without trying hard to remember. I know if I don’t know something I will know it eventually. I try to focus on covering as much ground as possible. Anki will keep testing me until I know it.
4. Anki Makes Revision Interesting
Flash cards are easily customised to your hearts desire. This includes the use of colour and the insertion of pictures and audio. If you’re having trouble remembering a word, Include a picture or some audio; after seeing or hearing it a few times you’re bound to remember!
5. Anki is Limited Only By Your Imagination
Anki can be used for all sorts of things like remembering lists, words, sentences, dates, names, places, grammar rules or maybe birthdays. Your imagination is the limit. If you need some ideas then check out the flash card decks other people have made, which again is all available for free.
There are those that believe using flash cards for language learning is a bad idea. I can’t understand why. Flashcards are an easy way to keep a language active in your brain. Actively using a language is always the better option for cementing knowledge, however the reality is we aren’t always able to use language actively. This is where flash cards are great for sneaking in extra study. Every little helps.
I’ve not even scratched the surface of Anki here today. I’ll be sure to write a post detailing how I use Anki in my own study.
What do you think? Will you be giving Anki a go? Perhaps you already use Anki and you have some thoughts to share?