I will never be able to truly consider myself as well-versed in technology; very few people have seen it all. But I do love searching out the best I can find, and once I find it, I stick with it. In my Tech Toolbox you can find my favorite software, applications, and occasionally gadgets.
One of my very favorite tools out there on the internet at the moment is Quizlet, a rising flashcard tool. Although admittedly limited in its purpose for studying term-definition relations (it’s hard to manipulate the cards into holding other types of information and the tool still being effective), and thus its effectiveness only for students, that doesn’t stop it from being an amazing company.
To start, the tool functionality itself is amazing. Equipped with a simple 6 ways to study terms, each is effective in its own way.
- While studying with Cards, you have options to shuffle them and even hear them read out loud.
- Speller is useful for foreign language learners, drilling the terms in using a different sense than sight–sound.
- My favorite mode for drilling in definitions is Learn, in which you have to go through the cards again and again until you are able to correctly repeat the definition for each one.
- Auto-generated Tests can help simulate anticipated tests; there was a period where I was able to use Quizlet to make up Test questions exactly the nature of the matching questions I’d get on my Latin tests.
- The two games, Scatter and Space Race, are so simple yet strangely addictive. I suppose it helps when you have the most competitive of friends to try and match scores with! Not to mention these can help improve your mouse accuracy and typing speed.
(Click on the circles for mode previews and screenshots. And repetitive captions?)
There are little pieces of genius all over Quizlet–the process of printing lists of terms or even paper flashcards is so wonderful and just as effective on paper as it is on the computer. The ability to quickly juggle, copy, combine, and edit already-entered terms is amazing. There is support for innumerable foreign languages (I mean, languages and flashcards, right?), and thought is even given to things like being able to sort sets into folders (accessing them by class!) and getting stats on who’s studying what where in the world.
Another aspect of Quizlet is the all-important, but, in a sense, ‘gated’ community. Quizlet is specifically designed for classroom use, so that students studying the same thing can spur each other on, and teachers can track their students’ progress in studying. Yet, while maintaining that encouraging aspect of friendly competition, it’s not a social platform–it’s not built to make friends on or discuss on.
There are a couple extra features you can get with a PLUS account (which, by the way, I could not resist getting when they went on sale for back-to-school; the awesomeness of the company and wanting to support them overcame the slightly underwhelming benefits of the upgrade); for example, the ability to add pictures to your cards. That way, instead of matching terms to definitions, you can match pictures of different butterflies to their names (for example). Another perk is being able to join an unlimited amount of classes. Classes are collections of sets shared between a private set of people. As I had many uses for many categorizations, it became extremely annoying that this ability was stunted with a free account, and was probably my favorite upgrade with the PLUS account.
If I stopped here, Quizlet would just be a pretty sick flashcard tool. But I’m far from done. Quizlet has the most awesome UI ever. The look, the prettiness, the simply beautiful CSS–that’s what I’m talking about. The fluidity of the keyboard shortcuts and their modern, sleek design is some of the best I can say I’ve seen on the internet (and I like to think I’m a hard critic!). Often, when websites make large overhauls or add new features, there’s plenty of criticism and begging for the old way (I’m among them usually). But never once have I ever disliked anything Quizlet does to improve their website. It all just keeps getting better. And the ability to pull off non-subtle gradients and not look super cheesy! That takes talent.
There’s yet another amazing point about Quizlet that makes it stand out from virtually any other tool I use for any other purpose–their customer support is simply out of this world. I mean, check out this totally sick feedback tool they use! It’s simple to send them notes, bug reports, and feedback, and their staff is the best. They’re all so cordial, polite, and everybody shows enthusiasm for getting their users what they need. Upon sending something in, they’ll reply to anything and everything you say within a dazing few hours–usually faster than I ever estimate. Perhaps I’m not even describing the quality of their support adequately–you need to use it yourself to understand. It’s saying something when I dream of emulating their support system myself one day for who-knows-what purpose, I just want one with tools, speed, and staff like theirs.
I could go on, but I’ve said my share. As I know the majority are, some people have little use for flashcards in the first place (I myself, in fact, am not a perpetual user of flashcards), so Quizlet can be quite useless for many. But I remain in love because of more than them being an impressive flashcard tool–they are an amazing business company and website. So go use it, maybe not even for the flashcards; for using it.
UPDATE (12/2/15): Approximately a week ago, Space Race was rejiggered and renamed Gravity! They’ve jazzed it up to look a little more like space. As it’s just been released it’s not that polished yet, but I’m confident it will be.