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This content first appeared on APUEdge.com.

Podcast with Dr. Bethanie L. HansenAssociate Dean (Interim), School of Arts, Humanities and Education 

Quizlet is a very popular flashcard app used in education. In this episode, APU’s Dr. Bethanie Hansen talks about using Quizlet flashcards to build long-term memory along with suggested ways that students can help create, use and share the flashcard content as part of the course.

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Bethanie Hansen: This podcast is for educators, academics, and parents who know that online teaching can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding, engaging, and fun! Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. I’m your host, Dr. Bethanie Hansen. And I’ll be your guide for online teaching tips, topics, and strategies. Walk with me into the Online Teaching Lounge.

Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. Today, I’m going to talk about the application or the platform called Quizlet. Apparently, Quizlet is super popular in education, generally. But let’s just talk about its potential in online education, shall we?

Online, we have so much possibility here. One thing we can do with Quizlet is get a free account as an educator and just use it for creating some things we share with our students. At the very basic level, that’s a good thing. So, let’s just say that you remember way back, I don’t know how long ago this was, but in your early educational years. Mine were a long time ago. And you used to make flashcards. If you ever had that experience, you know the experience of trying to repeat phrases, terms, ideas and concepts, right?

I remember walking across the university campus, oh, I was probably 18, 19 years old. And I had this huge stack of flashcards. And on the front of the card, I had whatever kind of term it was I was trying to study. And on the back, I would have like this big definition. So, I would first go through and read the term on the front, then flip it read the term on the back and try to associate the definition with the word. And then I would go through backwards, I would read the back of the card, then read the front.

And in my experience, this was great because it was a new method, right? It was the reverse of that first approach. So, it was like studying in a whole different direction. And then I could give my set to somebody else. They didn’t even have to be in my class because the answers were right there. I could have them hold my cards and just say the word, check the back for me and I was never looking at it. And I could explain to them what I believed it was, and then we could kind of make it a conversation.

There were so many ways to use those flashcards. And I remember studying so many concepts for different courses. I’m pretty sure it was not a world language course although I did take Japanese and Spanish. And I probably used flashcards in those classes. This experience was some kind of course with a big, heavy load of content and vocabulary terms. It might have been an advanced course in some subject matter that I was learning about. I just remember that stack of cards mattering to me and carrying it all over the place.

If you’ve had that experience long ago, in your earlier education years, as I have, you know that that is a profound way to study something that you just need to integrate into your brain. It’s like we need to soak up the words and make them part of our new vocabulary. You can’t really do that just passively reading a textbook.

Use Flashcards to Build Long-Term Memory

Let’s think about our students today. And what they’re going to get from our online class. They’re going to go through the content, hopefully they’ll take notes. Some of our students may take notes, some of our students will just read it, watch a video that’s in the class, and then click through and do the work. And there’s not enough time there for all of that content to move from short-term memory into long-term memory and become an area of mastery for our students. So, Quizlet is a great tool that can help us make that shift with our students and promote a greater level of mastery, for the sheer goal of just learning the terms and the content itself.

Now, you could take this a lot further, and there are a lot of other ways to use Quizlet. But this is the one I am really emphasizing today. And that is to bring academic vocabulary into the world that our students live in and help it to become part of who they are.

Many people believe a college education ought to transform the individual. So, if a person is taking an online class in a subject matter, they don’t really know very well, the only way to become transformed by it is to actually make it part of who you are, to consume it, to be able to speak about it intelligently, to learn the terms the phrases, the concepts, the ideas, and then to apply them in real life, or imagine applying them, if it’s not something we can actually carry out. Whatever that takes, at the very least, our students need to be able to speak the language of the subject they’re studying.

Quizlet can help us a lot with that. I’ve visited the platform myself several times. And I’ll be honest, I haven’t used Quizlet to its maximum capacity. This is an area I’m exploring too as an online educator. I’m just checking it out and thinking how wonderful it would be to have this set of flashcards, and to just embed that in the classroom.

One of the things I could do as an educator is to create the flashcards myself. I can spend the time, I could put images on there, I could add all kinds of definitions, color coding, highlighting, whatever it takes. And I can download the app and do it on my mobile device. So, if I have a few minutes here and there, I could be creating that content for my online course.

Guide Students to Create the Content

But I have this other plan for Quizlet that I think would be even better than me as the instructor spending the time building the content. My other plan is to have students create the content. They can create their own flashcards with the content from the course. And then they can collaboratively share it within the course. So, let’s just say I have 20 students in my class, or 25 students in my class, and I’m going to give each one the opportunity to get in there and build their set of flashcards.

Then, they can bring that flashcard set into the discussion space, and everyone’s going to share it there, which means everyone can click through and try your flashcards. And by the time they’ve gotten through several sets of these flashcards, they’ve had that repetition, but they’ve had it in a special way that’s different with each set of flashcards. It’s like magic. We’re going to surround them with the terms and the ideas so they can absorb them and become conversant in that language of the subject matter. This is a very basic level of learning something in a course, that entry level of just learning the key words and phrases that are to be used.

Some people online will tell you there’s a fear that Quizlet could be used for cheating. Quizlet is a study app, it is not used for cheating. However, if a student goes there and takes their ideas off someone else’s freely shared flashcards, that would definitely be an academic violation, a problem with academic integrity.

As you set up your activities in Quizlet, or with Quizlet for students to create or build, what are the things you can do to encourage students into academic integrity and academic honesty? One is to use that content for studying, then to put it aside and to use their own memory and their own thinking when they’re creating their assignments and doing their work. This is the only way your students can know for sure if they actually learned anything. And, by the way, students monitoring their own learning is the critical element that gives them the responsibility for what’s going on. Not everyone is going to see it that way. However, the more you coach them to create the flashcards, the less likely they are to just copy other people’s work.

You could have a little contest or you could have a grade for this. You could do all kinds of fun things to ask them to be creative or to encourage the creativity. You could share the terms, you could share the definitions right up front and make it a contest of the graphics that they could include on those flashcards. Whatever approach you decide to try, there are many ways for you to encourage creativity and originality in what they’re doing.

If you want to run their submissions through a plagiarism checker, an originality checker like Turnitin.com, you could have them submit the terms and definitions to you as an assignment in a Word document, and then go create the flashcards. See, there’s always a way to check originality even when you’re using multimedia tools.

Try Live Rounds of Quizlet in Synchronous Classes

Now, if your students decide to use the free version, this app does have ads on, it is going to be a little more limited than the paid version. Quizlet Plus is a version for teachers. And they call it adding “teacher superpowers” to your account. If you decide to get the Quizlet Plus version for teachers, you can actually enroll specific students in the Quizlet group. And you could have these Quizlet rounds that are called live rounds in real time. If you’re teaching a synchronous online class, this could be especially fun. You could see your students’ progress as they’re completing their study sessions. And you can encourage them to get in there and do the work.

You can also see what topics your students are studying when they’re in the app. So that Quizlet Plus version is a very interesting way to give yourself the space to tailor the help that you give your students and to meet their needs more fully. There are a lot of ways for you to explore this tool, and several types of games that students can play once they have Quizlet flashcards. They can create new sets of flashcards quickly and easily, there can be various ways of studying the fronts or the backs, we could put diagrams on those things. And as I mentioned, images, all kinds of stuff. You can also import from Word Excel or Google Docs to create a study set. So that makes it even easier. And you can have a library of these cards, so you can collect them over time, and have study sets from a lot of different people or a lot of different topics.

It’s a very interesting tool that can even be embedded in your classroom. So, you can put a link to the site, coach your students on how to use it, and then have a repository of all their Quizlet stuff sort of stored there in your classroom. There are also some solutions for textbooks provided on the Quizlet site.

Try Textbook and Existing Resources on Quizlet

Just looking through their myself, I see subjects like chemistry, calculus, engineering, linear algebra, physics, biology, languages, business, and even more. So, some of these flashcards are already there and already available ready for you to use.

As you’re thinking about how you might use Quizlet, I just want to encourage you to try it out, give it a trial run, see what you think of it. And also ask your students what ideas they have for using this tool in different ways. Once you get a flashcard set and you start playing with it, you’ll be surprised at all the different ways that you can play with those ideas that are there for you.

I want to talk you through what you’re going to see when you start working in this set of flashcards that are in Quizlet. So, let’s just say you want to look for an existing set of flashcards that somebody else already created and just see if you could use that. There’s a search bar in the upper righthand corner of the platform when you’re on a PC. And you could just type the term; and since I teach music appreciation, I just typed the word music.

And the first thing that happened was several sets of flashcards came up. And as I open the flashcards I see there’s a set of 137 flashcards in this particular card deck. And down below, I can scroll up and down and see which items are on the flashcards. The flashcards I’m looking at happen to be the note names on the treble clef and the bass clef, along with some other symbols in reading musical notation.

This set of flashcards is a really fun one, because I see the name on the front of the card. And then when I click on the card, it flips over, and it shows me the answer. Then I go to the next one, same deal. Click on the card, flip it over, it shows me the answer. So, I can just click through these and really study that way. And that’s the self-study activity called “flashcards.”

Now, what if I want to do the learning mode? I could choose a goal to personalize my learning Quizlet. And your students could do this too. There’s a Quick Study, there’s a Memorize It All feature. And then there’s a Learn and Apply, where you try to build long-term knowledge. So, this is a degree of personalization that looks like it’s going to be pretty fun.

There’s also a function called test. And in the Test section, we’ve got some true and false questions. We’ve got a definition here and a term here. And we’ve got some things that we can do to click true and false down below. There’s also a little icon where I can click on it, and it’ll speak it out loud, which is great if I want to hear what is being said, especially if I’m studying World Language flashcards. That’s a good thing. So that test function is especially helpful.

And then there’s a matching game. So, if you click “Start Game,” all these things fly on to the screen. And I see for example, the word melody, and then on a different spot I see “it’s the line or tune in music, a concept that is shared by most cultures.” And I’m thinking, based on all the other answers, that’s probably the answer. So, I’m going to click on melody, and I’m going to click on the definition. And I’m going to stack them on top of each other and they disappear. And it’s timing me on the lefthand side. So, it’s kind of fun. It’s like a little game, and students will find this fun, too. So, I’m going to click on these different things and stack them on top of each other and pretty soon I’m going to be done. Yep, my last one. It took me 45 seconds to finish that quiz of matching.

And then on the screen, I have some feedback. It says great start. Now can you do it even better. And someone else who has done this particular set of flashcards, their name is on the screen. It says, “Can you beat this person’s personal best to 44.6 seconds?” And I have the option to study some more or go back to the set to play it again. And there’s my name, it shows me at 45.2 seconds. Wow. So, there are three people that are faster than me on this game. And I could click through again and become better and better if I really want to.

You might have a challenge with all of your students in one class, which would be kind of fun, because then they’re competing against people they know, and who they’re talking to in the same discussions and all of those things. So that matching game, even though it may seem basic, at first, could be super fun, a great way to get students engaged in their memorization and just their understanding of terms, definitions and applications.

There’s also something called “Checkpoint,” and it’s a new feature in Quizlet. It’s a type of assessment. And it’s going to help you choose which terms and definitions that you really want to see. And you get 20 seconds per question. So, it’s going to give you this challenge round and it’s just another way of testing their knowledge in Quizlet.

So, I hope you’ll take a look at Quizlet. Every time I introduce different kinds of technology here on the Online Teaching Lounge, I like to give it a try and talk about all the features, but I’m definitely not selling anything. I don’t work for Quizlet. I’m not an expert at Quizlet. Just talking through the possibilities and options.

Now if you use Quizlet, and you have experience with this, or you try it out after this podcast, I would love to hear how it’s working for you and any ideas you came up with that you might share with others. We can add it to a future episode. So just go to bethaniehansen.com/request. There’s a comment form there and you can share your experience and tell us how this worked for you. Thank you very much for being here and for listening to me walk through the Quizlet app. I hope you’ll check it out. And best wishes trying it this coming week in your online teaching.

This is Dr. Bethanie Hansen, your host for the Online Teaching Lounge podcast. To share comments and requests for future episodes, please visit bethaniehansen.com/request. Best wishes this coming week in your online teaching journey.