Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2016
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StudyBlue

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Social flash card app has some potential for older students

Common Sense says
Teachers say (3 Reviews)
$avg_user_learning_rating
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Grades
11-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Flash card syncing from web to mobile devices can encourage studying.

Cons: Privacy issues and some misleading source citations take away from the learning benefits.

Bottom Line: An uneven experience with some privacy concerns makes this study tool best for college and post-grad students and a maybe for high schoolers.

Teachers can create flash cards to share with students, allowing students to review material on their own. With the upgraded subscription, teachers can create their own study guides for students to review and publish them to the StudyBlue content library. Students can also create their own cards and guides. Students (or non-students) can easily change their school and then view student names, schools, and email addresses along with any additional information that students add, even if the cards created are set to private. Teachers should consider the serious privacy issues with this site: There's no way to validate whether people are really affiliated with the institutions they claim to attend, and it's far too easy to share personal identifying information when you publish content here. Teachers of younger students might look to other flash card apps, such as Brainscape and Quizlet.

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StudyBlue is a flash card-creation and -sharing app targeted at high school and college students. The site features a vast library of user-generated content (full access requires a paid Pro account), which users can browse at random by Featured Decks, or they can search through the Featured Subjects view. Users can also create their own flash card decks -- which can include images and text -- to add to this global collection. 

Students can view the content as a review sheet, a quiz (multiple-choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank), or as flip-through flash cards, and students see immediate feedback on how well they recalled the information. Students can also use StudyBlue to organize materials for multiple classes, set up study reminders, and share cards with classmates by setting up their own "class" groups on the site. Uploaded content syncs quickly between the web and mobile devices. 

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It's easy to create and review cards, and students control how they study material and can collaborate with classmates by sharing notes. Unfortunately, the quality of the content varies dramatically depending on the author. On the technical and design side, navigating the information is confusing at first, and it might be a little misleading. User-generated content is tagged and sorted by the user's university or school, making a lot of the content seem like it's sourced or otherwise endorsed by those institutions. Although the StudyBlue website features a disclaimer that it's not sponsored or endorsed by anyone, the content is presented in a way that suggests otherwise. 

The potential for making personal contact information public is the biggest concern with StudyBlue, especially for high school students; email addresses, school names, classes, and photos can be shared publicly. Users can search by school name and easily pull up lists of classes with student names and email addresses. Thankfully, this information is set to be private by default, but students could easily make it publicly available.

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Overall Rating
2

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

Collaborative studying via shared flash cards may motivate kids to study more frequently and more efficiently.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
2

The collaborative study approach has potential to be empowering, but the quality of content varies dramatically. Drill-and-quiz memorization can take students only so far.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

Kids can take quizzes, self-report their answers, and view their progress. They can also set up push-notification reminders to study.


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Amber P. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
2
Study flashcards on any device

I really like how modern it looks and it is super easy to swipe if you got a card correct or not. However, there are a few major setbacks. You can not embed flash cards. You are able to share by providing a link, but it has limitations. As a teacher, it is nice to have a common deck and have your students practice right on your class website, or Learning Management System (our district uses Schoology) with the embed code. StudyBlue is also limited to just flashcards and a clunky test of the cards. There are alternatives that will provide matching and interactive games. StudyBlue is missing features. The last piece to be aware of is connected to sharing. You can look people up. You cannot always see their cards, but you can see users and their school. Because of this, users must be at least 13 years old in the Terms of Use. So, I like StudyBlue but I will not be recommending it. It is good for flashcards, but there are other products out there that would be better suited for teaching and learning.

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