Articles tagged "Approaches to learning"

Weekly post #23 - Google Meet has a green room plus the waffle, hamburger, snowman and the shish kebab

Replace your background in Google Meet

It would seem that this feature appeared for us this week.

You can now replace your background with an image of your choice. To get the best results you should sit yourself quite close to a wall behind you. The plainer the wall the better the results.

Waffle, hamburger, snowman and the shish kebab

The G Suite Waffle
The G Suite Waffle

There are no official names for the various icons that access menus in Google Chrome. Therefore we should adopt our own!

The waffle - the 3 by 3 set of 9 dots, found at the top of the screen in Gmail, Drive etc that brings up the matrix of other G Suite application.

The hamburger - the three horizontal lines like the bun and patty of a hamburger, found throughout Chrome to access settings.

The snowman - the vertical line of 3 dots, like the 'buttons' upon the chest of a snowman. Usually used to view additional configuration options - such as in Google Meet.

The shish kebab - the horizontal line of 3 dots like pieces of meat on a kebab. Not as common as the 'snowman' but also gives you access to more settings and commands.

[Credit for this idea β†’ Chromebook Classroom - Those Crazy Chromebook Icons]

Google Meet now has a 'green room'

A Practical Guide for Teaching Summarising and Note-Taking

Not strictly a digital things - but with definite overlap with research skills and approaches to learning.

If found the Delete, Substitute and Keep: A Practical Guide for Teaching Summarising and Note-Taking post from David Rodger-Goodwin super interesting.

David is certainly worth a follow.

Using Anki flashcards with IB DP Geography detailed examples and case studies

The last post 'Using Anki flashcards as an IB DP Diploma student' outlined the use of Anki flashcards to support spaced repetition. In this post I want to focus the use of Anki for the revision of IB DP Geography detailed examples and case studies.

Detailed examples

When examples are used, students should not just provide one-word responses but should offer some development. An example is a sentence or two that enriches an answer; it may include a specific location, an amount, or a date, all showing a greater depth of knowledge and understanding.

DP Geography guide

I believe students should be aiming for about 6 flashcards for a detailed example working in the 5w1h structure of What happened?, When did it happen? Where did it take place? Who was involved? Why did it happen? How did it happen? This links to the advice I give that when hand writing the notes in class a detailed example should take up one side of an index card maximum. I have created some example flashcards using this support in Unit 1 detailed examples β†’

The Anki flashcards can be downloaded using the link near the bottom of this post.

Case studies

A case study is located, detailed and used for discussion or a discursive approach.

DP Geography guide

I believe students should be aiming for somewhere between 12 and 18 flashcards for a case study. This links to the advice I give when hand writing case study notes in class that they should be around one side of A4.

One of the case studies required for Unit 1: Changing population is for a country benefiting from a demographic dividend. Working from the resources curated in this geographyalltheway lesson β†’ 1.3.4 Demographic dividend I would produce the flashcards in the following way:

[Cloze] means the use of cloze flashcards which allow for the quick generation of missing word style cards. [Basic] means just the normal text on the front and back style cards.

Case study of a country benefiting from a demographic dividend - Kenya

  • [Cloze] Demographic dividend is the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age share of the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older).
  • [Basic] How many Kenyans are there between the age of 10 and 24? β†’ 15 million (who are tomorrow's working adults)
  • [Basic] What % of Kenyan women were using a modern contraceptive method in 2003? β†’ 32%
  • [Basic] What % of Kenyan women were using a modern contraceptive method in 2014? β†’ 53% (leading to smaller families)
  • [Cloze] With less births each year there will be more economically active then dependent people.
  • [Basic] What was Kenya's total fertility rate in 1990? β†’ 6.1 children per woman.
  • [Basic] What was Kenya's total fertility rate in 2015? β†’ 4.4 children per woman.
  • [Basic with image] Describe how Kenya's population structure (pyramid) will change from 2020 to 2040.
  • [Cloze] To make the most of the potential population dividend Kenya needs investment in health, education, governance (reducing corruption) and economics/jobs.
  • [Cloze] If Kenya continues to make substantial investments in reproductive health and family planning, fertility levels may continue to decline, and children will be more likely to achieve better basic levels of health.
  • [Cloze] Traditionally, high youth populations have been cited as a potentially destabilising factor for societies. The general consensus is that there is a strong correlation between the youth dependency ratio and instability. This is thought to be in part, a result of strain on resources, high unemployment and poor integration into key social institutions necessary for collective cohesion.
  • [Cloze] One of the goals of the Kenyan government is to concentrate on four interconnected pillars: Education and Skills Development; Health and Wellbeing; Employment and Entrepreneurship; and Rights, Governance and Youth Empowerment.
  • [Cloze] Achieving the demographic dividend requires concerted efforts by stakeholders as well as systems re-thinking. Skills training is inadequate without job creation in the formal economy that can contribute to GDP, policy recommendations are futile without indicators/monitors of progress to ensure long and short sustainability, family planning is ineffective without empowering women, and socioeconomic corruption undercuts faith in public systems.

Download flashcards and combining two decks

I have produced a deck of flashcards with the detailed examples and case study and it can be downloaded here. It is possible to merge/combine decks and support to do that can be found here.

Using Anki flashcards as an IB DP Diploma student

Anki is a free to install (Windows and Mac) application that is used to make and review flashcards. The application, which is popular with university medical and law students, is based upon enabling spaced repetition. As a user reviews a deck they indicate how easy or hard they found the content. This will then determine how soon after the user sees that card again.

Watch this video to familiarize yourself with the concept behind spaced repetition.

Anki is a free from for Windows and Mac devices. The universal (buy it once - download it for iPhone and iPad) iOS app is expensive although you could use AnkiWeb, the online version, via a browser. The purchase of the iOS app does support Anki's future development. The Android app is free. The generation of cards and decks is much easier on the Windows/Mac version than on mobile.

A daily routine of reviewing your cards/decks is key to maintaining the 'spaced repetition' approach. As you see the 'front' of a card you can click on 'Show Answer' or press spacebar or enter to reveal the 'back' of the card. You should try and design your cards so that they actively require you to recall the information - they make you think and not just passively sit there.

The front of an Anki card.
'Front' of the card with an 'active' question.
The back of an Anki card.
'Back' of the card they presents the answer - or in this case an image with the answer within it.

You review how easy it was for you to recall the 'answer' and then either click 'Again', 'Hard', 'Good' or 'Easy' or press 1, 2, 3 or 4. Which option you choose will determine how soon you will see that card again - less than 10 minutes, 2 days, 3 days or 4 days. These intervals can be changed in the app settings.

Flashcard production is part of the revision process. Decks are available online but the process of producing your own materials has cognitive benefits. Using the 'active recall' approach the 'front' of the cards should be written as a question. The alternative to this is using the Cloze card type which basically produces a more 'fill in the missing gaps' style card.

Watch this video to (re-)familiarize yourself with the concept behind active recall.

Effective card design is important as to not waste your valuable revision time. Take the following into consideration as you generate your cards β†’

  1. Make sure you understand the content you are adding to any flashcards. There is no point trying to remember the content until you have got your head around it.
  2. Aim for a single deck of flashcards per exam, rather than one deck per sub-unit or the like.
  3. Tag the cards with the units, if they include a detailed example or case study, if they are just a definition and with their general style. You can review cards in batches by the tags they have.
  4. Keep your flashcards simple - rather than having subitems - just have more cards - this helps with the spaced repetition.
  5. Make use of Cloze car style which allows to quickly generate missing word style cards.

The process for using Anki for DP Geography students

  1. Download and install Anki from
  2. Before creating your own cards you are going to download a set of cards produced for Unit 3.1 - just to get a feel of what is possible. Download this Anki file and save it somewhere sensible on your device. Click on the 'Import File' button at the bottom of the Anki window, find the Anki file that your just downloaded and there you go.
  3. Have a review of the Unit 3.1 flashcards - clicking on either 'Again', 'Hard', 'Good' or 'Easy' or pressing 1, 2, 3 or 4.
  4. Choose a section/subunit of the DP Geography course and have a go at adding a basic card β†’ Add β†’ check the card type is set to Basic β†’ add the text for the front of the card (it should be phrased as a question) β†’ add the answer on the back.
  5. Have a go at creating a card with an image as the back. Find/screenshot a suitable image and have it on your desktop β†’ click, drag and drop it into the Back box.
  6. Have a go at creating a Cloze card β†’ change the card type to Cloze β†’ add the sentence (or similar) to the 'Text' box β†’ highlight the content to 'hide' and then use the [...] button on the toolbar.

Sometimes you may want to 'reset' part of your collection so that the cards become new again and the scheduling algorithm starts from the beginning. For instance, you might have completely changed a card or updated it so that you need to start learning it again, or you may have flipped through some cards without really studying if you were just trying to take a look at the cards or figure out how Anki works.

  1. Find the cards you want to reset under the 'Browse' tab.
  2. Select all the cards and right click β†’ Reschedule, thenΒ Place at end of new card queue. Click OK.

The videos in the 'sources' section are useful to further develop your understanding of how Anki works. The Anki manual can be found here.


  1. How to Use Anki Effectively - Flash Card Basics for Pre-Med and Med Students [Part 1] - Med School Insiders -
  2. 13 Steps to Better ANKI Flashcards | Part 1/2 - Med School Insiders -