Tech Trumps® Friday focus: Quizlet - Simple study tools for learning anything

Of all the things you can do in the classroom as a teacher to improve learning outcomes for your students, perhaps the most important is developing a better understanding of how well your pupils understand the topic you're teaching. Luckily formative assessment, as it's more formally known, is something that digital technologies are particularly good at supporting. This Friday I'm exploring one of the many Tech Trumps® that can help you develop your formative assessment practice, as well as differentiation in the classrom - Quizlet.

What is Quizlet?

At it's heart Quizlet is a tool that allows you to create what the company calls study sets. These study sets consist of a list of terms from the topic you want students to study, plus the definitions for each of those terms - that's it! Say you were teaching photosynthesis, then you'd create a list of, say, 10 different key terms from the topic (e.g. chlorophyll, respiration, stoma, etc.) and then add a definition for each one in turn.

The clever bit about Quizlet, and what makes it so strong on Differentiating and Assessing in particular (scoring 8 on both), is that it allows students to engage with the terms and definitions in multiple ways. They can:

  • Use flashcards to try and recall the definition and then the term - or vice versa
  • Go through each term in sequence trying to learn them one by one
  • Spell the term using an audio prompt
  • Take a marked test to see how well they know the terms
  • Play a matching game, linking the terms and definitions
  • Play a gravity game, protecting their planet by answering questions correctly
  • Play a live game in the classroom, which combines competing against peers and collaborating with peers at the same time

All with the same terms and definitions that you added. You get to add one set, and yet students get to interact with that set in seven different ways. As you'd expect, Quizlet also allows you to add classes, search for sets from other teacher (of which there are thousands - hence the strong Investigating score) - and get various views on your activity. That's all for free - for a relatively small upgrade price (currently £34.99 for the year) you can even add more, such as images, audio files, and view on class progress.

How can you use it in education?

As with my Plickers Friday Focus post last week, Quizlet is obviously designed for education so it should be relatively easy to see how you might use it in your teaching. It's very suitable for Assessing, although slightly unusual in that it's actually best for students to do their own formative assessment rather than for you as a teacher. This is a great - and necessary - skill for students to develop, the ability to understand their own strengths and weaknesses and engage with challenging content autonomously. That said, if you pay for the upgrade you get the ability to check class progress over time, which is extremely valuable.

The other area that Quizlet is very strong on is Differentiating. I think this is an undervalued aspect to digital technologies, the ability for them to offer a flexible space for students that can be engaged with on multiple different levels. Giving students the flexibility to engage with content in a way which best suits them at any specific moment in time can be a powerful way to help them develop their understanding. I think most teachers now realise that the idea of learning styles doesn't hold much water, but what does seem to be true is that at different times students might like to engage with different approaches to learning. Indeed, the best evidence seems to suggest that developing different approaches to learning is in itself a valuable learning goal. A little of everything in moderation, like most things in life, seems to be a good thing.

Do you have any ideas for using Quizlet that you'd like to share? Please feel free to add them in the comments!

Would you like your own set of Tech Trumps?

Do head over to the Tech Trumps® to see Quizlet and a host of other apps for teachers, all coded up against the key things you're working on as teachers yourselves. There's an interactive version of the Tech Trumps® to explore, plus a download version for offline use if you wish.