Thursday, July 11, 2013

Formatting Flashcards

I've been both busy and without anything extremely relevant to say; rather than post fluff, I'll wait to I have something of substance to post.

In response to a question asked in a previous post: How do I format my flashcards in SuperMemo?

There are efficient ways of quickly importing flashcards in SuperMemo using excel, Q&A .txt files, and so on, but one unnecessary step that I enjoy taking is making each flashcard within SuperMemo itself. I do this by either pressing "ALT + A" to create a new flashcard or extract them from a topic as if I were incremental reading.

For example, to make flashcards of Pimsleur Spanish 1, I create a topic that features a picture of the product's packaging. As I hear a phrase that challenges my knowledge of Spanish, inside of that topic I record that phrase in English and then in Spanish; then I create an extract of what I just wrote down. After the lesson is done, I go through the extracted topics and make flashcards of that material. This way, the picture is featured in each Pimsleur Spanish flashcard (Pictures seem to be better at words in signaling what kind of knowledge is trying to be remembered).

Also, even though it is unnecessary I enjoy adding pictures to some of my newly created flashcards. I have a picture database of more than 2,000 pictures, and sometimes I will select a random picture to be shown when the answer is shown; sometimes the picture is relevant, sometimes it isn't. It's important that some pictures only be shown at the ANSWER portion of the flashcard, because if it were shown during the QUESTION portion the important link between the question and answer might be "overwritten" by the link between the picture and the answer. This is part of the reason why Rosetta Stone is so easy to cheat on, but that sounds like the subject of another post altogether, as I've had many friends of mine ask me if they should invest hundreds of dollars into that program... (Back to flashcard formatting)

The process of making flashcards from the topics can be time consuming, so while I make these flashcards I enjoy watching TV programs, "let's play" YouTube videos of long RPGs that I would love to play but don't have time for (I'm watching Mass Effect 1 now), my backlog of unwatched Colbert Report and Daily Show episodes and other general entertainment. It overall lengthens the amount of time spent making flashcards, but I get both the satisfaction of increasing my flashcard count AND being entertained.

I'm not against efficiently making flashcards using various methods (I had to do so when importing all of the Remembering the Kanji into SuperMemo), but sometimes I enjoy doing a few things inefficiently so I can have more fun.