Flashcards have been used as effective learning tools for a long time, and there are numerous flashcard tools available online. But as a fan of Duolingo (and as a fan of free), I thought I would check out their flashcard app, Tinycards, which was launched as an iOS app in 2016, and a mobile friendly website in 2017. An android version is in the works.
My first impression was how easy it is to create a digital flashcard “deck”. As you add flashcards to the deck, they are automatically broken into lessons. This is a great way to “chunk” the information and help manage cognitive load for learners. (Although, it would be nice to be able to group lessons by topics.) In addition, it’s easy to upload images to the flashcards. There are some languages available for adding audio to “read” the card content. Although, for the deck I created I didn’t need to use the language audio. The deck I created was for students to learn the Latin abbreviations used frequently by Pharmacists.
What I liked is that, similar to Duolingo, Tinycards uses algorithms to adapt to the learner’s individual progress. That means the cards which learners make the most mistakes with are shown more frequently. When the spelling is not critical, you can switch off the spell check for the multiple choice and typing questions. The learning experience is gamified and fun. Audio and animated visual cues are displayed upon successful recall, and learners can “unlock” new levels as they progress. Another really nice thing is the ability to publish privately so only learners with a link can access the your decks.
What I didn’t like was the lack of online help and resources. This is somewhat understandable, as the tool is still fairly new. Also the interface did not provide specific information about the best image formats and dimensions for the deck branding image or for card images. So I had to use the “trial and error” method. Another area that is lacking, is the ability to collaborate and share content. Because of the limited social media sharing (users can only share a urls, mark favourite decks and follow other users) students are unlikely to use it to create their own decks for studying purposes.
Overall, it’s a simple and effective tool to use, especially for instructor-provided content. The interface design (i.e limited customizability of fonts and sizes, for example) promotes the creation of simple uncomplicated flashcards.
About Tinycards, (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://tinycards.duolingo.com/press
Tinycards. (n.d). Retrieved from: http://duolingo.wikia.com/wiki/Tinycards
Lardinois, Frederic. (July 19, 2016). Duolingo wants to reinvent flashcards with Tinycards. [website] The Tech Crunch.