To learn most subjects, flashcards make great companions to refresh your memory every so often. You might be used to making flashcards by hand, but considering how most people probably type faster, here’s one way to digitize your flashcards and review them on your laptop and smartphone with Google Docs and gFlash+. The latter is available for iPhone or iPod Touch [iTunes link] and Android.
Making The Flashcards
For thi,s we will be using Google Docs Spreadsheets to input our terms and definitions on two columns. To start, head to Google Docs’s site and create a new spreadsheet.
Click on Unsaved Spreadsheet right next to the Google Docs logo (or press Ctrl + S) to give this spreadsheet a descriptive name.
Now type all of your terms on one column (column A), and your definitions on the next column (column B).
If you have a bunch of vocabulary words, you can divide them in groups and dedicate one spreadsheet document (not sheet) for each group because the gFlash+ app works with individual documents.
Reviewing On Your Laptop
To review with your freshly inputted terms, we still need some mechanism that can help hide and show the terms on demand. Not many users know this, but there are special gadgets you can insert in Google Docs documents to make use of the data you entered, and since Google Docs is geared towards general users as well as students, there are some educational gadgets, a few of which are flashcard gadgets.
The most useful one for this tutorial is one made by Google. To see this, click on Insert > Gadget.
On the Featured tab, scroll down to the 6th to last gadget, Flash Cards Gadget by Seth Glickman, and click on Add to spreadsheet.
If you can’t find this gadget, you can always right-click here and copy the link or add
to the box in the Custom tab.
You’ll get a dialog box to indicate which columns have the words with the terms and definitions. Since your terms are in column A and the definitions are in B, we need to edit the default text (“Sheet1!A1″) and type “Sheet1!A:B”.
Now you will get a somewhat primitive but still very intuitive and useful gadget with terms.
You can move the gadget to cover the terms for practice or resize it to see more terms. Other useful features that you can use down the road include the Shuffle and Flip Cards features.
Reviewing On The Go
The free gFlash apps for iPhone (iPad and iPod Touch as well) and Android (click here from device) come in handy for this tutorial as they happen to make use of the Google Docs spreadsheet two-column flashcard format. Blackberry users who don’t mind paying $6.99 can use the gFlashPro app, which supports images in flashcard entries and has no ads, among other things.
Once you download the app, head to Menu > Get My Google Data to login to your Google account and retrieve your Google Docs spreadsheets.
Once you’re done retrieving your lists of terms, you can start reviewing and tapping on the card below to reveal the answer. What makes gFlash incredibly useful is that it can keep score and on subsequent rounds, it gives you the terms you got wrong (plus a few you got right) so you can work on the terms you need more review for. You do need to tap on the arrow or X (after you get revealed the answer) to aid gFlash keep score.
Another cool feature is the ability to switch to multiple choice mode, tap on More at the bottom.
I did notice that gFlash crashed when I tried accessing the gWhiz Catalog to search for other term groups. Also, if you need to update your vocab list, you’ll need to delete the old spreadsheet and re-download the updated one to gFlash+.
This is probably among the simplest solutions to create flashcards I have found that don’t require a steep learning curve. There are a few more sophisticated tools such as:
- Anki, Pauker, and Mnemosyne, all open-source and cross-platform flashcard programs,
- Genius, a free app featured here with other great Mac-only student-friendly tools,
- Blonskij, a Windows-only application where you can import Excel sheets,
- Smart.fm, which sports a advanced system for online learning,
- Headmagnet, a flexible online flashcard application,
- FlashcardDB, a simple online flashcard maker.
Which way do you prefer your flashcards, traditional or digital? Feel free to share your favorite program in the comments!
Image credit: pierocksmysocks
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