Anki is basically a flashcard program which uses active recall testing and spaced repetition to help a user memorize something. According to the User Manual, active recall testing
means being asked a question and trying to remember an answer. This is in contrast to passive study, where we read, watch or listen to something without pausing to consider if we know the answer. Research has shown that active recall testing is far more effective at building strong memories than passive study.Regrading spaced repetition, the manual also states:
The spacing effect was reported by a German psychologist in 1885. He observed that we tend to remember things more effectively if we spread reviews out over time, instead of studying multiple times in one session. Since the 1930s there have been a number of proposals for utilizing the spacing effect to improve learning, in what has come to be called spaced repetition.There are two basic components to Anki. One is the software/app that you can download. It's available for Windows, Mac, Linux/BSD, iOS, and Android. All versions are free, except for iOS devices ($24.99), interesting enough. Once you download the software or app and install it, you start by creating your first deck.
Once you create a deck, you can start studying the deck with Anki. The program gives you the "front" side of a "flashcard" and asks you for the "back" side, the answer. You do not input the answer anywhere -- just hit the "Show Answer" button. When learning a new card, three rating buttons appear at the bottom. You press the button based on how well you learned the card. If you didn't know the answer, or had the wrong answer, press "Again," and you will see the card again in about 1 minute. If you knew the answer, or if you weren't 100% sure you had the answer, press "Good" and you will see the card again in 10 minutes. If you knew the answer immediately, press "Easy," and you won't see the card again for at least 4 days.
If you a reviewing a card you previously learned, you will see four rating buttons instead of three. Check the manual for more details learning and reviewing cards. You can also check the progress of learning a deck.
If you don't want to create your own decks, you can use decks that other users have shared. This is the "Web 2.0" component of Anki, appropriately called Ankiweb. Of course, you will have to register for an account (which is free), and afterwards, you will eventually see the page shown in the image below.
Click on the "Get Shared Decks" to download other users' decks. A lot of the decks deal with language learning, but there are also decks related to Science, Geography, Mathematics, Music, and so forth. You can write reviews about the shared decks that you've used, if you wish. I've obviously liked Anki, and I think it helped me pass those Korean language classes. After last summer I had decided to stop attending Sogang University, so if I have the time (yeah, right), I hope to continue studying on my own, using Anki among other things.