[Guest Post] An introduction to Kleio Flashcards

This is a guest post written by Mike Fayer, the developer of Kleio Flashcards.

Most of us have to use flashcards at some point in our lives. In high school or university, we make piles of index cards and then carry them everywhere as we memorize vocabulary, anatomy, renaissance painters, or whatever. For some lifelong learners, flashcards can become a daily companion for decades.

Flashcard apps are one of those things, like todo-list apps, that on their surface seem to be obvious and simple enough to convince many developers to give it a shot. They try their hand as an exercise – maybe to learn a programming language or a new platform – and get a nice little side-project that can be pulled off in a month, and maybe there’s even a little money at the end. The result is a large number of obscure poorly-reviewed and poorly thought out flashcard apps (and a few very ‘professional’ very expensive ones), and tons of smartphone-owning learners still carrying around heaps of paper flashcards. 

As all those paper-flashcard studying and paper-book reading students would tell you, paper is really the technology to beat. Paper is both readable and writable – without an internet connection. Paper has no load times, and is very battery efficient. Paper always supports formatting. Thousands of paper flashcards may not be fun to organize (by subject, by whether you already learned them or not, by difficulty, and on and on), but they’re easier to organize than thousands of anything contained by a poorly designed app on a flashcard-sized screen.

Kleio is a flashcard app that first and foremost is designed to be used. Really used. And by used, we don’t mean “tolerated until something better comes around”. First, we tried to make Kleio at least as good as paper, where possible. And we worked from there.

For portability, we made sure that Kleio works fully offline and syncs when there’s a connection available, both on your phone and on your PC (did I mention the free desktop app?). For organization, Kleio has a deck system with plenty of metadata and the ability to individually take decks in and out of rotation. Furthermore, Kleio tracks the difficulty of each of your flashcards individually, and shows you difficult ones more often. As you learn a flashcard you see it less and less. Instead of having two boxes labeled “stuff i know” and “stuff i don’t know”, every flashcard is tracked independently. For flexibility in making flashcards, Kleio lets you make them on your desktop, on your smartphone, or online with any web browser. Its also possible to make flashcards while reading on the web – Kleio’s bookmarklet allows any text on any website to be turned into a flashcard with two clicks.

While we certainly believe that paper is the technology to beat, we didn’t hesitate to take advantage of things that are only possible in the digital world. The same cloud system that powers the app also hosts a sharing community – you can use it to share your flashcards with just your friends or the world at large, and to add other people’s flashcards to your library without messing with exporting, files, and the like. 

This is one area that we will be expanding aggressively as Kleio grows and adds platforms. We will be adding more sophisticated community functions, moderation tools, increasing possibilities for collaboration, and internationalizing where possible. Hopefully, some day soon we’ll be able to say that what started as a little flashcard app on WP7 has become an open collaboratively developed repository of anything you could need to study, in flashcard form.

If you need to study anything at all, we hope you give it a try (the free version is very capable). Then, tell us what you think – we see our users as collaborators, and we take feedback very seriously.

Are you interested in taking part in Developer Appreciation Month? Let us know by contacting us with the subject “Developer Appreciation Month”. We’d love to feature your app.

Comments are closed.