And for my last of these...
Yes, it deserves the huge text
Anki is a free flashcard app/programme with efficient memory algorithms built in (the iphone version is not free). This has fundamentally transformed the way that I learn.
"The single biggest change that Anki brings about is that it means memory is no longer a haphazard event, to be left to chance. Rather, it guarantees I will remember something, with minimal effort. That is, Anki makes memory a choice."
It is based on statistically verified learning algorithms that use spaced repetition to trigger memory retrieval and reinforcement just before you are about to forget.
Learn a new fact in any context (a book, a conversation, and piece of vocab, a course of study)
Create one (or multiple) flashcards in the appReview your decks of flashcards dailyNew cards get shown to you at 10 minute spacingsWhen you get it right they get shown the following dayWhen you get it right again it will show you 3 days laterand if you get it right gain it might show you in 10 days
If you get it wrong you go back to the start, cementing the strength of the memories that you are least secure on, without wasting time and effort on the ones that you are confident of.
How I personally use it
Names and Faces
- each school year I have to learn approximately 200 new names of pupils and staff all in one go. I used to be crap at it. Christmas would come round and I would know 3/4 of my pupils names... but one or two I would likely never get. Now I create a new deck of flashcards with photos of the pupils and over the first week I learn the cards and then regularly review them. By 2 weeks I confidently know 90%. By a month I confidently know 100%. And the effort is really minimal - 5 minutes a day, maximum.
Courses of Study
As I learn through a course of study (or just reading a text on a new topic) I create a set of cards after each chapter - terminology, concepts, facts etc...
Ever wandered round your garden an wanted to know what the names of the plants are? Snap a photo on your phone to create a card. Add the name (ask a friend, read a book, look it up online). Then review. Within a week you will know it.
Anki is awesome for this. Each time you come across a new word just make a card - one side shows the english and one shows the french (or german/spanish etc...)
Now, why does this belong in a productivity/habits thread?
Creating and then reviewing flashcards is a perfect daily habit - takes just a few moments to review 20 cards on your phone
It takes the element of chance out of studying - you KNOW that when the exam comes around those facts and details and terms will be in your head
It reduces the time and effort of study and learning, by adjusting the pattern of the work