Students use Quizlet to aid study

Liz Farmer

When faced with more than 900 terms to learn for a pharmacy class, one UT student turned to the use of online flashcards that he can distribute among his study group.

Pharmacy student Richard Sabel said he joined the free study site, Quizlet, to create flashcard reviews before tests. Quizlet is one of a growing number of new online learning tools of its type, which has seen increasing popularity because of features that allow users to create their own flashcards, access other users’ flashcards and make tests out of the information. Sabel uses the site on his iPad, but it is also available through applications for other Apple, Android and Windows devices.

“For me, it helps since I make the cards,” Sabel said. “That’s part of my study habit — to turn the information into a question.”

The basic site allows users to apply text to cards and extended functions are available for a fee, which allow users to apply images and create unlimited groups.

“If a professor can put it on a Powerpoint, you can put it on a Quizlet,” Sabel said.

However, Sabel said Quizlet has limitations that other online learning tools contain, such as only offering two sides for flashcards.

“One of the reasons that we have so many cards is that there isn’t a third side,” Sabel said.

He said each person in the study group enters information onto several cards, which are more accessible to everyone than paper flashcards.

Quizlet founder and president Andrew Sutherland created the site to study for a high school French class in 2005. He said the site grew as his friends used it to study and suggested changes to improve the site’s interface. User-generated content has grown to include arts and literature, languages, math and science, history and geography, standardized tests and professional and career cards.

“There are bartenders who use it to learn the names of drinks,” Sutherland said. “There’s a wide variety of reasons people use Quizlet.”

Last year, more than 110,000 servers in the Austin-area went to Quizlet, according to a Quizlet spokesman. He said the site is not its own curriculum, but it can help people achieve their own learning goals in this fast-paced, Internet age.

“Everyone is learning along a window of knowledge that is constantly moving,” Sutherland said. “People learn stuff for a test and then forget it.”

Quizlet helps users retain information, he said, because they can continue to review the information once they’re done actively working with the material.

“A lot of times because students find it useful, teachers find it useful,” Sutherland said.

UT alumna Michelle Shadwick uses Quizlet to teach her French classes at Bowie High School. She said she can see her students’ progress as they learn basic words in preparation for quizzes or tests.

“I always tell them don’t be happy with your first score,” Shadwick said.

Shadwick said for languages, one of the best features, on top of the native language audio, is the drop-down keyboard that includes French accents.

“For this age, that’s tough,” Shadwick said. “We have to change the way we teach to fit this generation.”

She said the accessibility of the site removes common excuses for students like forgetting a book or not having time to review, and her students enjoy competing with one another to achieve a high score.

“You have to make learning interesting,” Shadwick said. “You have to show them that it’s not just about typing something into Google Translate.”

Printed on Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 as: Website aids students in studying