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Study Aids – Digital Flash Cards Two

Yesterday I talked about studying with the Mnemosyne digital flashcards.  I did like the program, but had to change for a semester due to a class flashcard making project that was being based on another program, StudyBlue.

Study Blue is digital online flashcards that can be accessed from any computer, tablet or smart phone.  This was nice, because I could open my flashcards anywhere I had an internet connection.

The flashcards use a simple yes/no answer system to categorize your cards, meaning you mark each card as correct or incorrect as you move through them. If you pay for the premium service, you are able to target your studying to only the most difficult (most often gotten wrong) flashcards.

You can share your flashcards with others, and even use groups of flashcards made by other users. Because it is fully online, you can make flashcards from any device that gives you access to the site, including smart phones.  You also have the option of uploading your cards as an excel spreadsheet (this is how my class shared cards – each student created a group of cards as an excel spreadsheet and then you deleted any you did not personally want).

To review your cards, you select the group of cards and then select 5, 10, 20 or all the cards.  You can also specify if you want to go through the cards in order, randomly shuffle or (with a premium package) target more difficult cards. You can also view your cards as a review sheet – seeing the front and back of all cards, or take quizzes made from your cards.

I liked the easy access to all my cards from any device, but found that not having good cell service in some buildings frustrating limited the usability (like being on call in a hospital late at night). I wanted the ability to put some cards on my phone so I always had cards to work with. I couldn’t access my online cards while in Honduras – when I had  internet I downloaded important card groups and then imported them to another flashcard program.

The quizes were a nice additional way to test my knowledge, but I found that making them work took planning on my part.  Basically you chose between multiple choice, true false or fill in the blank and the quiz gives you the front of the card and you have to identify the back.  This worked well for some topics, but not others (it is frustrating if you have the same answer for more than one card, or if the answers are obviously for only one card – so not the best with medication doses, etc.).

The correct/incorrect scoring and no intuitive way to select less than all the cards was also frustrating. With random selection, I was just as likely to get a card I had well memorized as a card I hadn’t seen before. This didn’t work for me and I decided to pay for the premium package – but was still limited to 5, 10, 20 or all the cards in a grouping.

There are other digital flashcard programs available, and hopefully understanding what worked and didn’t work from my experience will help you make a good decision about which program will work the best for you.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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