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    How Anki Can Help You to Remember More
    and Forget Less

    Is Anki the best tool for helping form new memories?
    I say YES, and here's why.


    I'm always on the lookout for ways to increase my ability to retain information. It could be a remarkable fact I've stumbled across in an article, or a particular theory that I need to learn for an exam, or heck, even my company's mission or vision statement. Whatever it may be, if it strikes me (or you) as interesting or worthwhile, chances are it also may be worth committing to memory.

    This outlook sounds good on paper, but finding strategies or techniques for remembering that are conducive to my (or your) particular learning style can be incredibly challenging. For me, this has been a lifelong journey that's seen more in the way of failure than success. So when I happen to stumble across something that helps me remember things, it's pretty exciting! That something is Anki.

    What is Anki


    Anki is an open-source program whose leading developer is the incredibly talented Damien Elmes. At its core, Anki is a free flashcard program that utilizes a technique used in cognitive science called spaced repetition, where the desired information is spread out over time instead of studying multiple times in one session


    For me, the spaced repetition at the core of Anki's algorithm sets this program apart from other methods of memorization I have used over the years, like cramming, reading things repeatedly, writing things out on paper, mnemonics, and mind mapping. 


    Don't just take my word for it! Science has also shown that this approach to learning is preferable to other methods that don't utilize consistent repetition over time.



    Who Should use Anki?


    There are so many potential use cases for this program. A brief list I came up with includes:


    - Preparing for the next board meeting
    - Memorizing your companies mission, vision, or sales pitch.
    - Preparing for a presentation.
    - Preparing for an upcoming interview.
    - Preparing for an exam.
    - Preparing for professional certifications.
    - Learning a new language.
    - Those recovering from a traumatic brain injury working on memory development.
    - Putting names to faces.
    - Chess players wanting to memorize opening moves or strategies.

    How Does it Work?


    Anki users assign ratings after each flashcard is reviewed. The rating is based on the flashcards difficulty level and determines the time until Anki displays the card again. Anki's implementation of spaced repetition in software was pioneered by another flashcard program called SuperMemo.


    Anki comes with four types of flashcards described below:


    Basic
    Has Front and Back fields, and will create one card. The text you enter in Front will appear on the front of the card, and text you enter in Back will appear on the back of the card.

    Basic (and reversed card)
    Like Basic, but creates two cards for the text you enter: one from front→back and one from back→front.

    Basic (optional reversed card)
    This is a front→back card, and optionally a back→front card. To do this, it has a third field called "Add Reverse." If you enter any text into that field, a reverse card will be created.

    Cloze
    A note type which makes it easy to select text and turn it into a cloze deletion (e.g., "Man landed on the moon in [… ]" → "Man landed on the moon in 1969").

    So far, cloze has been my favorite card type since the additional text helps clue me into the correct answer. However, if I really need to commit something to memory, I will opt instead for the basic card type since less text could potentially help spur my memory.



    Add-ons and Additional Features


    Anki is open-source and encourages third-party developers to create valuable add-ons. One of my favorite add-ons is the Image Occlusion Enhanced for Anki 2.1. This add-on allows Anki users to turn images into flashcards by hiding and revealing selected sections of the picture. The graphical user interface for this add-on is easy to use and full of valuable features. 

    Below are some additional features pulled from Anki's website.


    Synchronization* Use the free AnkiWeb synchronization service to keep your cards in sync across multiple devices.


    Flexibility From card layout to review timing, Anki has a wealth of options for you to customize.


    Media-Rich Embed audio clips, images, videos, and scientific markup on your cards, with precise control over how it's shown.


    Optimized Anki will handle decks of 100,000+ cards with no problems.


    Fully Extensible There are a large number of add-ons available.


    Open Source Because the code and storage format is open, your important data is safe.


    *The Anki mobile application cost me $25. In my opinion, the cost is well worth it. The application is rich with helpful features that are well maintained. Heck, there isn't much you can't do with the mobile application that you can do with the desktop version.


    Another beneficial feature is Anki's ability to share and download community decks. Community decks are an excellent option for Anki users interested in learning a particular subject but may not have the time to create their own deck. 


    Popular community deck categories include:





    Where Can You Download Anki?


    The Anki desktop version can be downloaded here. It is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.


    The Anki mobile version for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch can be downloaded here.


    The Anki mobile version for Android devices can be downloaded here.




    Additional Learning Resources


    Official Documentation:


    Anki Manual


    YouTube:


    Anki Introduction - A Guide for Complete Beginners! (Anki Tutorial)


    How To Use Anki Like A Pro [Full Step-By-Step Walkthrough]


    Anki 101-Basic Skills - Playlist


    Articles:


    How to Use Anki


    How To Use Anki: An Efficient Tutorial For Beginners


    Paid:


    Anki Essentials - The complete Guide to Remembering Anything with Anki



    Thanks for stopping by!

    Until next time,

    Eric