Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Social Learning Objects - Flash Cards

I was contacted by Mike Hogan, the creator of Flashcard Friends. This is an interesting little application and might imply a few things around where things are going.

FlashCard Friends does a lot of what you'd expect in terms of creating Flash Cards for students. It's well designed and very easy to use. It also does some interesting things:
  • Allows users to categorize flash cards, mark them as being associated with particular text books, and then helps with the sharing of content. If you think about it, shouldn't the Flash Cards for most K-8 classes be similar?
  • You can copy an existing deck and easily modify.
  • They have automated definitions and translation to make it easy to create language flash cards.
  • You can add pictures or sounds to flashcards or with a Java applet, you can record sounds right into flashcards, which also is great for language learning.
  • For spelling, you can enter the word and the system has text-to-speech to create a sound that is the prompt that you then have to spell.
  • You can create tests (and the student can have practice tests) based on the flash card content.

There are flashcard decks for memorizing texting abbreviations and sports trivia to anatomy. You can see a video demo of the service here.

It's quite an impressive little application.

And I would suggest that there are a couple of interesting implications:

Web-Based, Niche Authoring Tools

I've claimed for a while (see Authoring in eLearning 2.0 / Add-ins & Mash-ups and Incredibly Cool! Vision of Future of Application and eLearning Development) that the age of desktop / installed heavy authoring tools are going to lose out to web-based authoring tools that focus on particular niches and allow composition. You somewhat see this with Survey Tool. I think that composition will look and act much more like Wiki Course Authoring.

In other words, my expectation is to have many easy to use, niche authoring tools that let's me create targeted interventions that I can compose together into an overall learning experience.

Social Learning Objects

One of the most powerful capabilities is how easy it is to grab existing content and modify it for your purposes. This is something we've wanted to do for a long time in learning, but it's always been hard. I would claim that within these more narrow, web-based authoring services, it will be much easier to share content. And there are lots of subjects where sharing makes sense.

What's also interesting though is that the expectation is that the learners themselves will find, create, share the flash cards (as opposed to relying on the instructor). This is exactly what the implication is Learning's Long Tail and Attention Crisis, Long Tail Learning - Size and Shape, eLearning 2.0.

Just so I'm fair to everyone, here are some competitors to Flash Card Friends:

Flashcard Exchange: http://www.flashcardexchange.com

Scholastic.com Flashcards: http://www.scholastic.com/kids/homework/flashcards.htm

Aplus Math Flashcards: http://www.aplusmath.com/Flashcards/

Flashcard Machine: http://www.flashcardmachine.com/

Study Perfect (Luminaresoft): http://www.luminaresoft.com/

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