What is Anki?
As a lifelong learner and self-described productivity nerd, Anki has been in my periphery for years. It’s a deceptively simple flashcard system that productivity bloggers like Ali Abdaal and Thomas Frank swear by. And the premise is pretty simple. Whenever you learn something new, you add that information into the app in the form of flashcards. Anki, then, uses its spaced repetition algorithm to feed you the exact mix of flashcards you need in order to remember all of the information you uploaded.
With just fifteen minutes of practice a day, you can remember just about anything you learn. Sounds good, right?
As an incoming graduate student, I thought Anki would be the answer to my prayers. But there was just one problem. I was studying Sociology.
The Challenges of Using Anki for Social Science Majors
If you’re familiar with the productivity blogosphere, you’ll understand my worries. Nearly all of Anki’s most vocal proponents are medical students, programmers, or people working in the hard sciences.
And the way that they use Anki doesn’t seem particularly well suited for the social sciences or humanities. For instance, Ali Abdaal highlighted the way that he used flashcards to memorize anatomy and physiology.
But in the social sciences, we’re not memorizing body parts. More often than not, we’re dealing with abstract concepts like “culture” or “romanticism”.
When I first tried to use Anki in order to catalogue my learnings, I found that I was writing whole essays onto each card. And that many cards had duplicates – with one meaning of a concept like ‘culture’ captured here, and a different meaning used there.
After scouring the internet for resources on how to use Anki as a social science major, and finding none, I just gave up.
How I Flipped the Script on Anki for Social Science Majors
That is, until I started working at Alpe Audio. Following the same theory of spaced repetition that underlies Anki’s success, Alpe includes flashcards at the end of each audio lesson. These can be reviewed so that learners retain the knowledge they’ve gained from the course.
Working on these flashcards reminded me of my bygone dreams of creating an Anki system that would help me remember my own graduate studies.
And so I decided to give Anki another go. One month in, and I’ve learned three important skills that are making my flashcards more useful:
Anki for Social Science – The Takeaways
I hope that these three tips help you get the most out of your flashcard practice, regardless of what you study.
And if you’re here, I bet that means you take lifelong learning as seriously as I do. So consider this a personal invitation to try out Alpe Audio. We do audio courses for on-the-go learning that can fit into any lifestyle.
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