Training and Certification

Why You Should Use Anki Decks to Improve Learning

February 24, 2016

Guest Author

The number of acronyms, tools, terms, concepts, and everything else in the IT world can overwhelm anyone. Rather than taking the time to write out paper index cards, give Anki a chance. Anki decks take the index card approach and bring that to the desktop and mobile devices to make learning languages, vocabulary, and various subjects easier.

This article elucidates Anki’s purpose and its application of active recall testing (memorization) and spaced repetition to increase learning speed and accuracy.

What is Anki?

Anki is open source software designed to reduce study time and increase the amount learned. Anki employs active recall testing and spaced repetition. Anki boasts several advantages over other learning methods, such as:

  • Cross-platform compatible on Linux, Mac, and Windows
  • Mobile ready with iPhone and Android apps
  • Includes library of end-user created add-ons
  • Access to countless public shared decks for learning material on languages, law, science, math, and other subjects
  • Syncs across desktop and mobile devices with free web account

Active Recall Testing

According to the official Anki documentation, “we forget about 75% of learnt material within a 48 hour period”. Active recall testing entails asking a question and trying to remember the answer. This approach proves more effective than passive studying and it strengthens memory. Anki returns to cards with these question and answer pairs to repeat learning until you become proficient with the word/term/concept.

Spaced Repetition

This learning method stems from the spacing effect, which explains how individuals learn more effectively if the material and reviews are spread out over time.

Depending on the speed in which you answer questions, the software asks you to label cards as again (1 min delay), good (10 minute delay), or easy (4 day delay). Through the labeling process, the software prioritizes and schedules cards for review based on familiarity and the speed in which you answer questions.

How Anki Features Enhance Learning Retention

I’ll refrain from explaining the intricacies and differences between Anki formatting, cards, decks, fields, notes, and additional basics that are easy to pick up when using Anki. Instead it’s important to highlight the features which increase Anki’s effectiveness.

Anki is Content Agnostic – Use Text, Audio, Video, Images

The software enables the usage of text, audio, video, and image content. Every person learns in different ways (What is My Learning Style?). But the diversity of content (video, audio, images, text) strengthens your familiarity with the material.

Images associated with words work very well for learning. Many individuals first search YouTube for to learn about a variety of topics. Anki also supports personal audio recording and reading out loud options for text on cards. The ability to verbalize a word’s meaning or concept demonstrates understanding. Anki enables you centralize all of these content learning tools in one central location.

Anki Decks Sync Across Devices (Desktop, Tablet, Smartphone)

Free accounts on Anki web enable users to seamlessly sync user profiles and created decks across desktops, smartphones, and tablets.

Anki for iPhone and Android

Mobile versions of Anki exist on Android and iPhone devices. The process of composing large decks from a mobile device may seem time consuming, but syncing and adding shared public decks alleviates that concern.

Shared and Private Decks

Anki web access empowers users to add shared decks from a wealth of subject areas. This provides a simple and easy way to start using Anki. There’s significant value in creating your own cards because the process offers another opportunity to learn the content. However, adding excellent shared public decks is a wonderful supplement to the learning process.

The web account also permits sharing private decks with individuals or groups of people. This proves useful for classes or study groups who would want to share or compare notes, terms, and concepts. This option negates the labor involved with sending plain text files of decks and cards to friends (Anki requires plain text files for importing info into decks).

Adults find it increasingly difficult to set aside time for continued education. With tools such as Anki, the time issues seem less of a concern and turn into a feeble personal excuse. Consider how often you check entertaining apps on your smartphone. Dedicate half of that time to Anki and see what happens.

This article continues to build on a series highlighting various study and learning methods. The previous article focuses on active reading

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