According to an article on Time.com about the best and worst learning techniques, active learning methods (e.g. writing) are far more useful for long-term retention than passive learning methods (e.g. highlighting or underline words).
One of the best ways? Surprisingly enough: flashcards, according to research from the Association of Psychological Science.
In this article, we review the top 3 flashcard apps based on user ratings, website and teacher reviews, as well as direct interaction. While there were many available apps dedicated to specific topics like math or vocabulary, we focused on apps that featured customizable flash cards that are usable across multiple subjects. In this category, there were nine total. We narrowed it down to the three best.
Cram, available for both iPhone and Android, is the graphically the most beautiful app on this list. This app allows you to connect to the website, which is a huge resource in itself. One of the best features of this app is that it allows you to search the huge library of flashcards submitted by other users. If your specific cards are not available, don’t worry – you can make your own stack of cards.
Signing up is quick. To use the app, sign up for a new account (or connect via your Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ account). Once inside, the user interface is easily navigated. You have the option to search the flashcard library, create new flashcards, view recently studied cards, and sort through your favorite cards.
Creating new flashcards is simple. Push the add button, then set the title, subject, and description of the set. You can decide to make the set of cards private or public. After creating the set, you work on the individual cards (Cram requires a minimum of three cards per set). Each card has a front, back, and hint section with the option to add photos and descriptions. This is great, because many flashcard apps do not have a photo option.
Using the cards is just as easy. There are two modes: memorize and cram. In memorize mode, the user goes through each flashcard one time until they run out. At the end, the app provides a performance report. In cram mode, the user goes through each flash card until they get every single one correct. Once all cards are correctly answered, the user is permitted to move to the next level.
Conclusion: All in all, Cram offers an easy-to-use app with a library of resources. It offers the features that students need to create useful flashcards. Best of all, these features are wrapped up in a beautiful user interface.
Quizlet is another fantastic learning app made for both Android and iPhone. It is intuitive and has a very clean user interface. As with Cram, the Quizlet app connects to the website, which essentially provides the same options as the phone app version.
Design. One of the first things that are noticeable is the marriage between functionality and design. Simple graphic aesthetics combined with natural usability. Other flashcard apps can be complicated with graphics that are too crowded and difficult to understand. Quizlet is designed in a way that turns studying into a game.
Easily Add Flashcard Sets. When the student opens the app, they see a list of previous flash card sets they created. Each set can be categorized by subject, such as math, English, or science. To add a new flashcard set, push the button at the bottom left hand corner. From there, the user enters the “Term”, or the hint. Next, the user enters the “Definition”, or the answer.
The only negative side to this app is that it is difficult to delete a set after the user is finished using it. It appears that the only way to delete a flashcard set is to log into the website app and delete using the tools located within the flashcard set.
Three Modes of Studying. Quizlet offers three modes of studying. These three options are designed to keep the students interested.
The first is “Flashcards”. In this mode, the user goes through the flashcards one by one at their own pace. Quizlet provides an awesome option that allows users to hear the flashcard being read to them via an audio button on the top left hand corner of each flashcard. In this mode, students can also flip the cards so that the answers show. This is a great way to solidify information after it is learned.
The second mode is “”Learn”. In this mode, the answer is shown and the user types in the answer. If the user gets the answer correct, the app moves on. If not, the app requires that the user type in the correct answer before moving on. This extra step shows the thought put into the app.
The third mode is “Match”. This mode is modeled after the classic match game. In this mode, all the flashcards are laid out and the user taps the pairs of hint and answer cards that belong together. This mode makes studying fun and takes it to another level by using a timer. The user is motivated to improve their time, thus further helping the student learn.
Conclusion: All in all, Quizlet is a great app. It has a simple and easy-to-use interface combined with simple graphics. The only downside we see is the inability to add photographs to flashcards. Other than that, this is a fantastic app and will help students learn while having fun.
Out of the three apps, StudyBlue has the most options when it comes to study modes. This is the biggest feature. In addition to that, the user interface is easy to use and functional, although not as intuitive as the other two. Additionally, this app requires phone internet, which will eat at your data plan a little. You sacrifice a little usability for a bunch of functions. That trade off isn’t too bad.
Website for Community Sharing. Like the other two apps, StudyBlue also has a web version that is great. It contains a whole host of community flashcards that are shared, which is fantastic for students. Borrow other users’ flashcards and learn from them. Of course, you are able to create your own custom flashcards as well.
Custom Flashcards with Options. StudyBlue allows students to input hints and answers using text, photographs, or recorded audio. This opens up the possibilities and helps students ingrain concepts and ideas into their memories via multiple senses. It has been shown that engaging multiple senses allows for more cognitive connections. In addition, StudyBlue also allows for rich-text editing, letting users add bold, italics, underline, change text color, and add subscripts and superscripts.
Multi-option Study Modes. One of our favorite features of StudyBlue is the customizable experience. There are three main study modes: Flip Cards, Take Quiz, and Review Sheet. Within each of these, users are able to choose the number of cards, the order (hard to easy, random, in order), submission type (multiple choice, type the answer, true/false), among many others. This allows students to study from different angles in order to make sure they understand.
Conclusion: In summary, StudyBlue is a feature-filled highly customizable app that will help students approach their learning from many angles. The only downside is that it requires internet to function, so there isn’t a local flashcard option. Other than that, if you don’t mind that fact, this is an app that will help students study effectively and efficiently.