If you are anything like me, you are always on the lookout for handy study aids that might help you or your students. Recently, in preparation for a major teaching exam, I found a program that was incredibly helpful called Study Blue. Essentially Study Blue is a replacement for the old 3×5 cards we used to use in college, where you write a word or question on one side of the card, then put the answer on the flip side; in an electronic format.
Why is this better than the old paper system? Once you have assembled your notes in this format you can push the information to your laptop, tablet, ereader or smart phone. That way whenever you have a few minutes, regardless of your location, you can access this electronic cards and spend a few minutes studying. Since we all know that repetition is the key to getting things into our longterm memory, this is a great advantage.
You can enter the information one at a time, card by card, but I found it easier to enter the information into spreadsheet format, a column for questions, another for answers, then upload the entire file to Study Blue. The program knows to separate the information into individual cards for you.
You will also find, especially with word definitions, that many words have already been entered by other students. When this happens, the program suggests the information already entered in a side panel that you can click on if you like, or proceed with your own definition. There are also times when you will find someone else has already created a set of cards for the subject you are studying. In those cases, you can either study their material or incorporate it into yours. (Some teachers have actually preloaded study notes for their classes!)
Once you have your notes set up you can study each note a card at a time. The program shows you the front of the card while you try to remember what should be on the back. When you flip it over to see if your answer is correct, the program will ask you if you have this information mastered. This accomplishes two things; those things you feel you know well are taken out of the rotation allowing you to concentrate on the things you don’t know well, and the program keeps a running total of the cards you have mastered so it can give you a percentage number for how close you are to mastering all of the information.
It’s simple, I know, but the best ideas often are. I used it to great effect to pass my teaching exam and I recommend it to other teachers and students as well. How nice it was this morning to tell a colleague who will be taking the same test that that can access all of my notes at StudyBlue.
Since the program is free to use, it is well worth your time to check it out to see if it is something you would like to use or recommend yourself. (There is a paid version, but all of the features I have mentioned above are available in the free version.) Who knows, you may find that, like me, you are preparing study notes for your students in the future.