Jul 3 2011
Having been out of school for a while it’s been some time since I created flashcards. These are extremely useful tools to help memorize a new subject. Of course memorizing things has fallen out of favor in recent years. Many blame the internet, and some go so far as to suggest that Google is making us stupid. The notion is that we’ve become so adept at finding information online that we don’t extend the effort to learn anything anymore. Instead we rely on out ability to find it.
There’s always been a balance between memorizing certain things and knowing where to find them for reference. All but a few prodigies are able to solely rely on their minds to keep track of the wealth of information they come across. The rest of us have historically used reference books, and now use the internet to access information. I think there’s some truth to the fact that the ease with which information is accessible online is making us less knowledgeable and more reliant on the crutch of the internet.
In a classroom setting I don’t expect things have changed as much. Teachers know that cutting students loose on the web is like giving them the answers to the test. Sure the internet can be used to augment kids’ educations but they still need to memorize things like they used to. But do they really need to still make hand written flash cards? After all, the computer was designed in part to reduce the proliferation of printed paper. Now there’s an easy way for teachers to create flashcards for their students and use them as a tool to monitor the progress of their class, with StudyShuffle.
StudyShuffle comes with a card editor, multiple assessment methods, monitoring of how often the class is checking in, and a customized randomization algorithm to maximize their learning. The card editor is fairly straightforward. They simply write the question on the front of the card and the answer on the back. It has the ability to include symbols, subscripts, and other characters that are often used in academia.
The assessment methods include timed multiple choice, timed prompt, and self assess. Timed multiple choice requires that the teacher prepares the options. The timed prompt makes the students type in the answer on their own. And for self assessment the students can indicate how hard they felt the question was. All of these are different ways to let the teacher know what the trouble spots are. In order to give students access to the cards they can be given user accounts. Once this is done the teacher can track their progress and how recently they logged in.
The algorithm used to choose which card to display next is custom built to help the students remember. Studies have shown that students are most likely to remember things right before they’re about to forget them. Their algorithm determines when best to present material to students to optimize their study time. Now there’s a luxury I wasn’t afforded back in school.
Getting students to learn new material is the goal all teachers. Ultimately it comes down to taking the time to study the information that’s been presented to them. Some students do this all on their own but many need more structure to stay on task. StudyShuffle provides the structure and accountability for students to learn, and the tools to do it.