Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spaced-repetition (SRS) flashcard options for teaching

While I think that studying with the Anki spaced repetition (SRS) flashcard app on a smartphone is ideal, it is often not possible to have all students doing the same thing.  Some students do not have smartphones.  And the Anki app for iPhones is approximately $25 (expensive but completely worth the money in my opinion), while the AnkiDroid app is free.  I feel that I cannot require some students to buy an expensive app while some get the equivalent for free.

One option is to have the students use the Anki website, allowing them to study from any web browsing device.  This is a functional solution to the above problems, but it is not ideal.  The Anki website is not as fast  and easy to use as the Anki app, and, if the students do not have access to the Internet (no cell phone signal or wifi), they cannot study.

As I wrote earlier about an alternative to Anki on the iDevices, I believe that another SRS flashcard app, Flashcard Elite, has potential to be a replacement for Anki.  Users can create and download flashcard decks from and study on their smartphones.  I would not recommend that students study on the Quizlet website itself because, as far as I can tell, it does not use SRS.

So, with my goal being to find a way where as many students as possible can benefit from an SRS flashcard app on a smartphone, here is my current plan for this semester:

Students without smartphones

These students will create Anki website accounts and create a deck of flashcards via the website in class once a week.  On other days, these students will work with a partner who has a smartphone.  Using their partners' smartphones, they will access their accounts via the web and then hand the smartphone back to the owners.  Those students will then quiz the non-smartphone students on their decks.

Students with Android smartphones

These students will download the AnkiDroid app to their smartphones.  Then, they will create Anki website accounts and sync (connect) accounts to the smartphone app.  After they create decks of cards via the website in class, their decks of cards will be downloaded to the smartphone app.  On other days, these students will work with a partner in the same manner above, except that the studying will be through the Anki app, not the Anki website.

Students with iPhones

These students will download the Flashcard Elite app to their smartphones.  Then, they will create Quizlet accounts and create decks of cards via the Quizlet website in class.  After that, they will access Quizlet from the Flashcard Elite app and download their decks.  On other days, these students will work with partners in the same manner above, except that the studying will be through the Flashcard Elite app.

Please understand that this is a work in progress and subject to change.  It will create more work for the teacher in terms of the logistics of teaching with SRS, but I feel it is worth the effort.

I would really appreciate any feedback about what I have proposed.  Please feel free to leave a comment or question!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Introducing digital SRS flashcards to the classroom

At  Teaching with Anki, I write about Day 1 of introducing Anki, a spaced repetition, flashcard program, to my first year English students.

On a side note, I plan to start transitioning all my writing about Teaching with Anki to this website.

A good (maybe), free SRS smartphone app

In trying to find ways to incorporate smartphones into the classroom, I have been experimenting a great deal with spaced-repetition system (SRS) flashcard apps.  Since I am a heavy user of the Anki program/app and know it well, it has been the main focus of my classroom efforts for the last two years.

However, due to the cost, I cannot require my students to buy the Anki app.  Instead, the students have been using the Anki website to create and study cards.  It is not an ideal solution but a functional one.

Recently, I have been looking for alternatives to Anki.  Unfortunately, many of the free apps leave something to be desired.

However, just the other day, on an excellent website called Flashcard apps for for iPhone & iPad, I discovered a distinct possibility called Flashcard Elite.

I have only downloaded it today and am trying a JLPT N2 (Japanese level 2) deck.  So far it looks pretty good!  I'll report more later after I've used it some more...

Monday, September 24, 2012