Technology Tools I don’t use: Anki Flash Cards

April 18, 2011 § 1 Comment

If you haven’t already noticed a trend, the posts I have written about “Technology Tools I Don’t Use” are a little misleading: So far the tools I have listed are excellent tools – it’s not that I don’t use them because I don’t like them. Furthermore, I am now making a commitment to using these aforementioned tools.

Anki is different. Sure, it’s an excellent tool! But it’s not something I am using right now, and while I look forward to using it in the future, I don’t have an immediate need. But I bet you do.

I find it best to describe Anki as flashcards with smarts. Rather than simply describing Anki, watch this YouTube video:

From the web site: ( )

“Anki is a program which makes remembering things easy. Because it is a lot more efficient than traditional study methods, you can either greatly decrease your time spent studying, or greatly increase the amount you learn.
Anyone who needs to remember things in their daily life can benefit from Anki. Since it is content-agnostic and supports images, audio, videos and scientific markup (via LaTeX), the possibilities are endless.”

Here’s how it works. You flip through the computerized flash cards (you make your own cards or you can find pre-made decks of cards online) just like you would regular flash cards. Cards can contain text, pictures, and audio (no video yet).

Let’s say you are learning a language:

You see/hear the word “parler” and you remember very quickly that it means “to talk.” You click “show answer” and it shows you the other “side” of the card with the answer. Sure enough, you were right, so you click a button rate how long it took you to come up with the right answer. Because you were able to recall the answer so easily, Anki won’t show you this card again for a while because you clearly already know it.

Let’s say the next word is “maintenant” and you have a little trouble remembering the definition is “now.” Because you struggled, or maybe you didn’t remember the definition, you click the appropriate button to inform Anki of your hesitation with the word. Anki will show this word to you sooner to help reinforce the definition.

The strategy employed by Anki is backed up by studies on how we learn. It’s pretty remarkable how much faster you can learn facts using Anki over traditional flash cards.

For a variation within the classroom, have one student stand up in front of the projector and project your facts up on the wall. Let the student try to recall the facts, and have the rest of the class rate how quickly he/she was able to recall the facts.

The web site and app for Mac/Windows/Linux are free, but you might experience sticker shock when you see the cost of the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch app. It’s a worthwile cause, though, so you may consider donating on the Anki web site:

Learn or contribute more on the entry for Anki on Wikipedia.

Oh, one more thing: The facts presented in my blog may not be accurate, and the opinions belong to those who state them. Don’t believe something I say? Look it up. Don’t like something I say, let’s talk about it. Leave me a comment.


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§ One Response to Technology Tools I don’t use: Anki Flash Cards

  • Sp8s says:

    I just got an email from the Anki creator who says the iPad version of Anki supports mp4 video. I’d love someone to try this out and let me know if it really works before I make the purchase myself.

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