Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2017

Tinycards -- Flashcards by Duolingo

Gamified flash cards feature great built-in content, spaced repetition

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Grades
3-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: A game-like interface and strong pro content make for a solid study experience.

Cons: Limited options for creating your own flash cards.

Bottom Line: A smart, easy-to-use, and surprisingly fun way to study and review.

First, check out the built-in flash card decks to see if any suit your classroom. Some might be good as one-offs (like the deck for U.S. state flags) while others might be ready reference throughout the school year (like polyatomic ions for a chemistry class or key dates for a history class).

Keep in mind that it can be slow going to create your own flash cards one by one, so take some time to browse what's already available and see what's worth sharing with your students. Talk to your students about why this flash card system feels different from just flipping through paper cards. Talk about when flash cards work best: Are there certain kinds of information that are better suited to flash cards than others? Encourage your students to build their own flash cards to study before a quiz or major exam.

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Tinycards is a flash card app created by the developers of language-learning app Duolingo. When you launch the app for the first time, you can choose whether you're a student, a teacher, or neither. You can then choose to follow some professional flash card creators, including Duolingo (which provides foreign-language flash cards) and other developers that specialize in foreign language, history, anatomy, geography, and science. You can then browse your news feed to see flash card sets from these creators, and you can search for flash cards developed by other users. You can also upload your own flash cards by creating them one by one via a web browser. Your cards can feature images and text, and there's a built-in feature that will convert your text to speech in several languages.

When you study a flash card deck, cards appear in a structured, strategic way: First you'll see one, then another, and then choose between them. Then you'll be asked to do something more challenging, such as typing or choosing the right answer among three or four options. Students can use the app without an account and review flash card decks at liberty; they also can create an account and save decks to their "Favorites" and review their performance over time. Teachers can share their flash card decks with their students, and they can track their students' progress with these shared decks. 

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It's hard to build a flash card app that promotes deep learning, but Tinycards gets pretty close. This flash card app is built from the same bones as language-learning stalwart Duolingo, and it has the same super-smart structure of spaced repetition to help you learn, review, and repeat as you flip through flash cards. It's extremely effective to engage with flash cards this way: Even if you've been through a deck before, it's engaging and surprising to meet the challenges the app sets before you.

The only missing feature is a way to upload cards in bulk, which is a feature of some other quiz and flash card apps. So far, Tinycards only lets you create your cards one by one. Still, there are enough strong flash card decks developed by experts that you might not feel the need to build your own. Overall, just like learning languages with Duolingo, using flash cards with Tinycards can only take you so far, but if you have content that demands memorization, this a worthy, engrossing way to study and learn. 

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Flipping through flash card decks, with the app's snazzy interface and lots of levels to unlock, is surprisingly absorbing and fun. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

The spaced repetition system makes sure you build to increasingly complex questions: You encounter cards one by one and then have tougher tasks, like comparing them or typing in some information. Questions always feel new, never rote.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Though the home page looks pretty busy, it's easy to get started and track your progress. Features for creating more than one flash card at a time would be a welcome update. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member