Thursday, September 15, 2011

RAW and OLR vocabulary flashacards

A couple of years ago, Danyal, Huran, Talip and Dindy agreed to create flashcards based on the vocabulary in the Reader at Work and Offline Reading series.  I had set up a system to publish these as ANKI flashcard sets.  ANKI is an open source free flashcard software that works on a PC, but can be linked dynamically to a flashcard set on the web.  It also incorporated the Leitner spaced repetition system.

Unfortunately, the ANKI software proved cumbersome and difficult for students to manage, so this year, we've moved the flashcards to StudyStack.  See the current stack for Reader at Work and Offline Reading at
  • I think the simplicity of the StudyStack (and the fact that it can be ported to mobile phones/smart phones) will make this very attractive to students.  
  • Also, the multitude of 'games' and 'self tests' built in to the site will appeal to students' assessment-obsessed perspective on learning. 
  • In addition, the ability for a teacher to create a matching 'pop quiz' at the click of a button will make this a 'blended learning' tool because it is so easy to integrate the flashcards on the web with a quiz in class.  
  • And, the ability to use one or multiple sets, means that teachers can easily build a cumulative vocabulary range, rather than the unit-by-unit 'test and forget' approach.
See for a more detailed account of StudyStack, with reference to its use with the Common English Lexical Framework (See for the research article describing CELF in a CLIL context).

As you might notice when looking at the flashcard list at, the flashcard sets are open to edit.  
  • There is a 'slight' danger that students can muck around with the cards, but I don't think that they would intentionally do this.  I tend to favour a more 'open' (and therefore potentially chaotic) approach to learning, so I think that the risk is worth taking.  
  • What I might suggest is that if any teachers are interested in volunteering to be a 'moderator' for a stack (or several stacks), they could regularly 'back up' the stack (two click operation to download a stack) just in case, and perhaps be in charge of 'quality control' by checking any new entries.

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