Saturday, April 16, 2011

Online Flashcards

This is going to be a quick how-to post on using digital flashcards in class.  Of course, you don't need technology to use flashcards for review!  You can have students write up their own flashcards as a homework assignment or during class.

While anyone can make a flashcard using pencil and 3x5 cards, there are some benefits to using digital flashcards with your students.  You don't have to worry about the quality of the students' flashcards, since you make them yourself.  With online flashcard websites, you can set up your own flash cards and just send students a link.  Then, they have access to that resource to practice on their own time, without having to make the initial investment of making the cards.  Two, you can make them once and use them forever!  Three, some flashcard software is very advanced, with algorithms that only show the cards that students most need to work on.  Four, there are some websites and digital flashcard tools that have Andriod and iPhone apps to let students quiz themselves using their phones.

On to the websites.  My favorite flashcard site is Anki.  This is a really advanced flashcard software.  It can be installed on your computer (on Mac, PC, lots o' stuff!), used online, or used on your phone (they have Andriod and iPhone apps).  It is really great for math because it has support for the LaTeX typesetting language, which most college professors use to type up math textbooks.  Anki has a lot of options, a "spaced repetition" algorithm for serving up questions when you are just about to forget the answers, and a page that will show you charts and statistics for the questions you get right and wrong.  You can also download decks online, which is how you as a teacher would be able to share with your students.  Here is a short introductory video by the creator of Anki:

I really like Anki and think it is a fantastic tool.  However, you might think it is a bit overkill.  There are lots of flashcard websites out there that you can use to share flashcard decks with your students.  Two that I found are Flashcard Exchange and Flashcarddb, which I used a little bit to study for history of math (for instance: here).

Do you think online flashcards could be useful in your class?  Let me know in the comments!  Cheers.


  1. Tom,

    Thank you for sharing this awesome online tool! I definitely see this as being a very advantageous tool to use in the classroom. I plan on teaching either elementary classes or middle school math and I can think of so many different ways I could use online flashcards in either setting. I wonder if any of these notecards allow you to place images on one side. If so, I wish I had know when I took all of my Art History courses at Rutgers, I can't tell you how long I spend cutting a pasting images on one side of the card and all of their details on the other side. I also love that some of the websites like Flashcard Exchange allow you to print the notecards for those of us who like to have the physical notecards. Thanks for these resources, I'm bookmarking them right now!

  2. This looks like a very useful tool--and it can be used across the curriculum which is great! Thanks!

  3. This is a great tool! I love using flashcards to help me study for things and, depending on the type of learner, students may also benefit from an online tool like this. Thanks for sharing!