Flash cards have long been used as a strategy for memorizing and reviewing information in a condensed format. Using flash cards can be a beneficial learning strategy for students who are required to commit large amounts of information to memory. New technology has made creating and using flash cards easier than ever-condensing a stack of paper cards into a single mobile app, allowing students to review content anytime, anywhere!
This past summer I taught my first online foreign language course in a seven week semester, half the time the course would normally be taught during the academic year. Students in the course were faced with the challenge of memorizing large amounts of vocabulary in a very short time period . As a general rule, I have always encouraged my students to create and write out their own flash cards because language acquisition happens more quickly when learners are required to produce language themselves (Swain, M. and Lapkin S., 1995). However, given the intensive nature of the course, I decided to provide students with already made study aids that they could access easily, on the go.
Given the large amount of vocabulary covered in the course I taught, I developed electronic flash cards using a Windows authoring tool called StudyMate. StudyMate allows you to create Flash-based learning activities and games which can be uploaded into a course management system and downloaded onto a mobile phone or PDA. Students are able to take their vocabulary lists with them wherever they go without the hassle of carrying hundreds of paper-based flash cards in their pocket. And just like traditional flash cards, they can shuffle the cards and remove them from the pack if they have already mastered the word and want to focus on a smaller set of words.
StudyMate also makes it easy for the instructor to upload their own content for the flash cards. Questions or items can be imported from file formats including:
- Microsoft Word
It is also possible to access over 1,000 publisher test banks through the Respondus Test Bank Network. This network is a free service provided to instructors who adopt a participating textbook.
After using StudyMate for one semester, I can say that I was very satisfied with the software. Student evaluations also indicated that they found the mobile flash cards to be very useful. The only area where StudyMate fell short was with the use of audio clips. When audio clips are inserted into the flash cards, it is not possible to download the content to an iPod. For those vocabulary flash card packs where audio is inserted, students must view the flash cards in the content management system.
StudyMate is licensed and available to all Quinnipiac faculty and students for downloading. You must be on campus to install the package.
What if I don’t have access to StudyMate?
If your institution does not currently have a license for StudyMate, there are other flash card options on the web. One application to try is: gFlash .
Do you have another application you can recommend for making mobile flash cards? Or how about a strategy you have used with students who are studying with mobile flash cards? Tell us about it here in the comment section!
Swain, M. and Lapkin, S. (1995). Problems in output and the cognitive processes they generate: A step towards second language learning. Applied Linguistics 16, 371-391.
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