(Updated 1st May to fix broken link)
I’m a big fan of paper and pen, I have to admit. I can’t read a non-fiction book without a pencil in my hand, ready to add notes in margins. Revision should, I feel, start by writing out some ideas, perhaps headings or main nodes of a concept map. But many students disagree and some find it very helpful to use resources online, either ‘live’ or downloadable software. This post will list a few ideas to get you started – please let me know, hypothetical reader, if you can suggest any more – and in time this will become a page all of its own.
If you like mind mapping, there are many resources you could check out. One company which likes the idea of visual, rather than written notes and revision is Model Learning These different layouts may be useful in a range of circumstances, to explore, explain and revise links between concepts. I also like the information the Open University have made available at Visual Techniques for Revision. You might also want to check out http://www.mind-mapping.co.uk/
Flash card junkies
You can’t go far wrong with a stack of 5×3 index cards and a pen. If you want to turn this into an electronic equivalent, I currently have three suggestions – but they all require a little work.
Quizlet is a website that allows you to define your own flashcards, linking any two ideas together. They can be definitions, translations, symbol and unit, whatever. Once defined, they can be shared with other users (one of my long-term projects will be to start making sets of these for my students to use) and turned into tests, games and other activities. You may find some useful sets there already and if not, making them yourself is a good first step in revision.
Memoriser is a freeware utility (translation: free to download and use) which lets you define the facts you want to learn, questions you want to answer or anything else. It can then be set to run in the background while on a computer, asking you random questions at preset intervals.
The third is something you may already have, but it’s an interesting application of Powerpoint. You can save a slideshow as a folder of jpeg (image) files. Many mobile phones can now store and display such files, and you can often run them as a slideshow. This means a revision powerpoint – ideally clear slides with small amounts of text – can be saved to your phone and played back at odd moments, in bus queues or while waiting at the dentists. Most students won’t carry around revision cards, but will need death threats to be parted from their mobile phone.
I’m sure there are many more available – please drop me a line if I’ve missed out your favourites!