New Flashcard Features

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Just to get the ball rolling here: we're already starting work on designs for the new flashcard system (which will feature prominently in our upcoming 2.1 update, and in the ABC dictionary to be released in mid-'04), and I was wondering if anyone had any ideas about how we could improve the current system.

Some things we're already planning (as mentioned in the 2.0.4 update e-mail):

* Ability to prioritize and filter flashcards based on the number of times you've gotten them correct.
* Better editing for custom cards (hopefully including some sort of Pinyin input).
* More advanced practice/review features, allowing you to randomly select a particular number of cards, weighted towards the cards you're having the most trouble with.
* Ability to import flashcards from a text-based word list, and to export the headwords (and only the words, I'm afraid, not the Pinyin or definitions, at least not in the Oxford) to a text file.
* Much much better stability (obviously).

I'd love to hear what you think of these, and of course any other ideas will be gladly received as well.
 

Jim

榜眼
I like the idea of randomly selecting a batch of cards weighted to difficult ones but would like to take it a bit further and adopt a method I use when going through batches of cards. I would like to be able to go through a selection of cards several times and drop out each card that is answered correctly twice consecutively. The batch gets smaller each round (hopefully) and the most difficult ones get repeated the most.

Once an entire batch is finished you can select another batch or quit. If another batch is selected it will not include any of the words from any previous batches of that session. This way you could be sure of getting through your entire list if desired.

I would also like to see a button that would allow you to drop any of the words answered correctly twice from the list if the user felt they definitely had learned the word.

I would also like to see flashcards which give the English words and you need to guess (in my case it's usually guessing) the Chinese word and pronunciation.

I realize keeping the size of the software reasonable might preclude these changes and there may be better ideas so my nose won't be bent out of shape if you don't include them.
 

Rafael

秀才
I like the idea of flashcards but find that I don't memorize characters as quickly this way compared to seeing new characters in context. For example, one sentance with the new character included in it and read several times over time is more likely to stay stuck in my mind compared to just seeing the character on a flash card.

In my free time I prefer to read Mickey Mouse magazines, available in most newspaper kiosks in China, which contain great vocabulary and good context.

My question would be: is it possible to include entire sentances on flashcards with the actual vocabulary words that I am trying to memorize highlighted in some way?
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Jim said:
I like the idea of randomly selecting a batch of cards weighted to difficult ones but would like to take it a bit further and adopt a method I use when going through batches of cards. I would like to be able to go through a selection of cards several times and drop out each card that is answered correctly twice consecutively. The batch gets smaller each round (hopefully) and the most difficult ones get repeated the most.
That's a good idea, yes; we'll certainly want to include that in the flashcard feature's filtering / auto-sorting abilities, along with a manual override in the form of a drop or delete button. And as you describe later we do indeed want to provide a way for people to ensure that they've covered their entire list... perhaps even an indicator or something to let people know that they've covered every word in a certain category at least once on a given day.

The ultimate goal here is to accommodate pretty much every conceivable study pattern or habit, so we want to make this as flexible as we possibly can.

Jim said:
I would also like to see flashcards which give the English words and you need to guess (in my case it's usually guessing) the Chinese word and pronunciation.
Actually you already can do this to some extent; it's possible to produce flashcards from the English to Chinese half of the Oxford dictionary, and then you can use the "Edit" feature (in the "Manage Lists" screen of "Manage Flashcards") to highlight out a particular portion of the Chinese-language definition that you want to use. Or you can even review a Chinese to English list with only the "definition" field turned on. Though admittedly it would be nice if the screen re-organized itself to present that data in a more useful way.

Rafael said:
My question would be: is it possible to include entire sentances on flashcards with the actual vocabulary words that I am trying to memorize highlighted in some way?
That's an interesting thought... something along the lines of Wenlin's text search system, where it'll find you all of the instances of a given word or character in a text file or set of text files. It's kind of computation-intensive to run on a Palm, though. Perhaps if/when we put out a desktop editor for flashcards we can build the search feature into that; certainly finding a way to show the words in context would be a nice touch.
 

Jim

榜眼
Re: Rafael's suggestion

I like Rafael's idea of including sentences to show context. I often add some to my physical flashcards. As the dictionary contains many example sentences, though not for all words, it might be easiest to add a button to jump to that particular definition in the dictionary then back to your flash card session.
 

John

举人
mikelove said:
* Ability to import flashcards from a text-based word list, and to export the headwords (and only the words, I'm afraid, not the Pinyin or definitions, at least not in the Oxford) to a text file.
Does this feature mean that I could supply use a Chinese text passage from a textbook, break it down into one Chinese character or phrase per line and feed it into the program so that it will take the Chinese character or phrase on each line and produce a flashcard from that ? In other words, I supply the Chinese text and the dictionary looks up the meaning of each character/phrase and makes the appropriate flashcard ?
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
John said:
Does this feature mean that I could supply use a Chinese text passage from a textbook, break it down into one Chinese character or phrase per line and feed it into the program so that it will take the Chinese character or phrase on each line and produce a flashcard from that ? In other words, I supply the Chinese text and the dictionary looks up the meaning of each character/phrase and makes the appropriate flashcard ?
Well yes, but we're also planning on integrating some sort of basic text viewer functionality and we're going to be retooling the "Instant Access" feature which allows you to pop up the dictionary with a definition from a text passage, so you might be better off using one of those. But assuming that the words and phrases are included in the dictionary it should certainly be able to generate flashcards based on them, and even if they're not you'll be able to add them as custom flashcards and fill in the definitions etc yourself.
 

Ants

Member
mikelove said:
I was wondering if anyone had any ideas about how we could improve the current system.
- It would be helpful if the Flashcard software could hold its state when the PDA is switched off, so that one could return to the same position without having to restart a test each time.

- Please don't lose the current ability to create unlimited numbers of user-defined batches (word lists) of flashcards, because I use this feature to create one batch of vocabulary per lesson on my Chinese language course. A feature allowing a test of randomly selected words from these batches would be great.

- Once a batch of flashcards has been created in one language, then it would save a lot of time if the software could switch back and forth between the two languages. Currently the only way to do this is to maintain a second duplicate of the same vocab in the other language (unless I'm missing something here...), which is fraught with problems.

- The inclusion of a continual display of the number of words left or the number of words tested in, for example, a fraction (e.g. 23/40) would be psychologically very helpful, and from a practical point of view would allow the user to gauge how much more time might be required to finish the test.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Ants said:
- It would be helpful if the Flashcard software could hold its state when the PDA is switched off, so that one could return to the same position without having to restart a test each time.
I assume you mean when the dictionary is exited, correct? Simply turning off your Palm won't affect the flashcards at all, when you turn it on again it'll go right back to where you left it. We're probably going to add the ability to save your session progress in the next version of the flashcard system, along with a host of other ways to store user data.

Ants said:
- Please don't lose the current ability to create unlimited numbers of user-defined batches (word lists) of flashcards, because I use this feature to create one batch of vocabulary per lesson on my Chinese language course. A feature allowing a test of randomly selected words from these batches would be great.
Good idea, and we certainly won't be losing that ability - in fact in the new version we're planning to allow you to import these lists from a text file.

Ants said:
- Once a batch of flashcards has been created in one language, then it would save a lot of time if the software could switch back and forth between the two languages. Currently the only way to do this is to maintain a second duplicate of the same vocab in the other language (unless I'm missing something here...), which is fraught with problems.
So in other words, you'd like to be able to have the software change which fields it blanks out based on the language of the flashcard? Good idea. Requires a bit more work on the user's end to set the thing up, but if it was made optional I imagine a lot of people might use it.

Ants said:
- The inclusion of a continual display of the number of words left or the number of words tested in, for example, a fraction (e.g. 23/40) would be psychologically very helpful, and from a practical point of view would allow the user to gauge how much more time might be required to finish the test.
O yes, this is a glaring omission on our part and one we're quite determined to fix in the next version.
 

goulniky

榜眼
between flashcards and character search

I personally don't use flashcards, never been able too.
However here's a search feature related to learning tools and customization if not flashcards, namely the option to restrict search to a particular list of characters/words. The list could be defined through the flashcard interface or better still, in a memo or text file. The list would need to be indexed but this could probably be done on the desktop, similar to what makedict does except it would not be dictionary file, only char/words. This would call for a separate search mode [restricted] but everything else would remain the same, definitions would come from the actual dictionary files.
 

goulniky

榜眼
themes / categories

another customization idea that goes beyond flashcards. it would be nice to have support for theme lists, i.e. list of words on specific subjects, e.g. numbers, countries, colours, fruits, dishes, or phrases, RVEs etc. That's one thing I often miss in Wenlin, even though some of the categories appear in the definitions (e.g. number, measure word) there's no way to do a reverse search.
Well, there are other ways to handle this such as doc readers of course...
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
We've been thinking about the ability to search on user-defined subsets of the dictionary for a while, not only on word lists imported from a text file but possibly even on the results of other searches. But those are some interesting practical applications for it... Even if we do the indexing on the desktop it may still be challenging to make this fast enough to be effective on Palm, but we're certainly going to give it a try and I imagine at the very least we should be able to put something together that will work reasonably well on OS5 and newer machines. So thanks for giving us a few more reasons to try.
 

Pampuk

秀才
ce dont je r?ve !

(what I dream about)

Bonjour, I'm from Paris and recently I've used Flashcards a lot.

I will be really happy to see all the features you're talking about implemented but my 2 absolute requests should be :

1/ When you select Chinese Characters or tap on 1 character, I like to see prononciation appear somewhere. (It will really help remembering pinyin and to remember meaning, it really help to be able to read examples in word definition).

2/ I think Flashcard should be incorporated in your product in a more transparent way. It could be a kind of "State" : you should be able to enter or leave it at any time (to check definition of another word, to go to another application, to be able to enter a new word in the 'current' flashcard list....).
If it is implemented, on top of the screen, some information should appear : name of flashcard list, total number of entries, allready done entries and maybe my current ratio (how many correct and incorrect answer).


I've got other ideas, but I'll write about later : I have to go to Bastille where I have a appointement with Ms Ping, my chinese teacher/friend to have brunch on the Champs Elys?e... You should come to Paris !

Enjoy your day and Xin1nian2kuai4le4 - Bonne Ann?e 2004
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
1) We've gotten a few requests for that; it wouldn't even be all that difficult, actually. So it will most likely make it in along with other upgrades to the character magnification system to make it compatible with OS5.

2) This is another thing we're almost certainly going to be implementing; flashcards are going to be less of a static thing and more a kind of editable "word list", so you'll be able to effortlessly jump into or out of them, view them like dictionary entries, etc.

Thanks for the suggestions,

mikelove
 

Pampuk

秀才
other requests

thank you for you're attention and your work.

The other thinks that I think will help using flash cards will be to have for example a 5 level answer systtem (from 0 to 4) that user can customise t(for me, it will be : 0 no idea, 1 know the meaning, 2 know the pinyn, 3 know both but not sure (wrong tone, miss a meaning), 4 known.

It will be good if this rating can be stored with each words and use to initiate a flashcard session.


Otherwise, It could be really nice if flashcards become a database with :

word or sentence , pinyin, definition, name of list, rating (and maybe other fields that others can use).

Then, all words will be together and you can search and sort by name of list, rating or what so ever and you can initiate a flashcard session on a selection or part of a selection.

At the moment, I have the same word in many list, and sometimes twice in the same list, it will be nice to be ask if I really want to add a second time this word.

to be continued... (A Suivre...)
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Hmm... with the way we're planning to handle fields, that rating idea might actually be possible, but I'm not 100% sure. The other fields should be no problem with our new database system.

Thanks and keep writing,

mikelove
 

sbliss

Member
Flashcard features

Hi,

I use the flashcard system quite a lot. The interface for creating and
maintaining the lists is great. But ...

The main thing which is killing me with the flashcards is the interface in
the flashcard session for selecting which lists to use.

I have created about 40 lists, so when I go into the system and want
to test myself on list number 40 ONLY, I have to go through and
unclick 39 other lists one by one.

I hope you're going to fix this with a better interface, at the very minimum
a way to select or deselect all of the lists.

One start would also be to be able to create folders of lists and then
be able to choose which set of lists to select or unselect.

Another thing I'd like to do is to half test myself. ie. I want to not show
some info like the definition or the hanzi, but I still want to be able to
go back and forward. I'm not bothered about the results of the test,
so I guess this is a review + the ability to hide info.

Thanks
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
That's actually been fixed already; as of version 2.0.2 there are now "All" and "None" buttons below the list of flashcard lists, so all you have to do is tap the "None" button and then select the list you want to test yourself on and that will do it. Folders are an interesting idea (or maybe just categories since that's the preferred approach on Palm OS) - honestly, when we designed the current system we thought people would use it to play around with maybe a few hundred words at a time and never expected anyone to really start aggressively studying with it, so we're sort of playing catch-up now.

And that half half test idea is definitely something that should show up in our big summer release; with our more dynamic approach to fields it'll be in there whether we deliberately add it or not.
 

paulwilt

Member
Last Seen...

Here's another idea for linking the dictionary content with the flash cards/lessons lists.

If the user looks up a word that is already on one of the user's lists, you could have a notification area in the screen...the characters are this, the pinyin is this, the meaning is this, and the word is also on your {Lesson Name} list.

I find that this triggers my memory and helps me make a connection between two contexts. I agree with the other readers who have posted that context is the best way to learn, but we have to accept that the Palm can't reasonably store "context" in terms of the actual words to the left and right of each word we look up.

Still, just the reminder that I have, in the past, put the on a particular list is a scrap of context that helps me remember the word and how it is used.
 

kevinoc

Member
ability to control flashcard session with hard buttons

I've been using a free flashcard program by Eric Youngdale (http://www.andante.org) for a while, and one of the best features of it is that I can completely control a flashcard session by using the 4 physical buttons built into the palm. This makes it much quicker, easier, and more ergonomic to study the flashcards than having to pull out and carefully aim the stylus every time I want to switch to the next card.

I've noticed for the Oxford flashcards it's possible to use the up and down scroll button (I have an OS 4.1 Sony Clie) to effectively click the door icon on the first press and then indicate that I got the word correct if I press up, or that I got it wrong if I press down on the next press. This is better than having no control with the buttons, but it's not quite ideal.

Since many of the Oxford dictionary definitions are fairly long, it's often necessary to scroll within a flashcard to see a full definition. It would be nice if the scroll button (and jog dial for Clies) would automatically control the scrolling of the definition field within a flashcard, and if there would be a preferences setting to allow some or all of the physical buttons to be used for controlling the other portions of a flashcard session. If it were an option, users wouldn't have to unsuspectingly give up their shortcuts to the standard palm applications.

In the case of Eric Youngdale's program the interface contains 4 buttons at the bottom of the screen which (depending on how you've configured your flashcard session) might read: "Ok", "Pinyin", "Hanzi", and "Oops". Because these buttons are laid out on the screen in the same order that the hard buttons on the palm are laid out, it's very easy to use the hard buttons without confusion. In the case of the Oxford dictionary it might be necessary to rethink/redesign portions of the on-screen button layout to better reflect the layout of the hard-buttons for it to be as intuitive.

Another thing that would be very nice is to have a button in the flashcard window to switch between simplified and traditional characters. I'm trying to learn both forms, so it's useful to be able to quickly compare the two forms.

I hope you'll consider rolling something like this into the upcoming PlecoDict :) In any case, thanks for making such a useful and enjoyable product!

Thanks!
Kevin
 
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