Peek at the Answer

The iPad offers many functions to students. It can serve as textbook, notebook, sketchpad, calendar, communication device, multimedia player and more. There are also lots of apps geared toward review and study, including flash card apps available for both terminology and visual study.

Today I’ll be looking at Evernote Peek, a free, customizable flash card app. It utilizes the Smart Cover available for all but the first version of the iPad. You simply peek under the first cover fold to view the question or clue, then lift the cover further to reveal the answer. If you get one wrong, just click to mark it as incorrect, and you will see your total score at the end. The flash card content is drawn from notebooks you create in (the also free) Evernote.

Where it excels

This app offers a beautiful, user-friendly interface that makes flash card study a breeze. You can create content notebooks in any version of Evernote you prefer (desktop, web, or mobile.) While Peek for iPad is geared toward users who have a Smart Cover, there is also an option under Settings to turn on a virtual cover that lets all iPad users try Peek.

You can attach images or sound files to your notes, and they will be automatically formatted for inclusion in your Peek flash cards.

At the end of a test, you can go back to notebooks and choose another, or you can retake the test. You can also choose to only re-test yourself on incorrect answers. Very handy.

It’s also easy to share notebooks. Students from the same class or study group could divide up the creation of notebooks and share them with others in the group through the Linked Notebook area.

Where it falls short

One of the reasons that sharing notebooks is so appealing is that creating notebooks for use in Peek is relatively time consuming. You must use a certain format and keep in mind that your clue is limited to about 50 characters and the answer to about 250.

That seems reasonable, but Peek let me down in another example when it did not warn me that my clue was too long and simply truncated the text. Not helpful! On the upside, having to create the custom flash card data could be considered just another activity that helps the information stick in your head.

It’s also important to realize that notebooks don’t sync between Evernote and Peek. If you edit a notebook in Evernote, you must delete it from Peek and add it all over again to get the current version. Not intuitive — let’s hope this is a feature that will be added soon.

Finally, although it only takes a minute, I was annoyed that I had to change my settings for this app to work. It’s common practice to password protect your device and allow the brightness to adjust to your surroundings, so most people have settings like:

  • Brightness and Wallpaper > Auto-Brightness: On
  • General > Passcode Lock: On > immediately
However, those settings can be triggered by the smart cover, so it’s necessary to change them temporarily to something more like this:
  • Brightness and Wallpaper > Auto-Brightness: Off
  • General > Passcode Lock: On > 1 minute (or more)

Just be sure you remember to switch them back when you’re finished.

The Verdict

If you are studying anatomy or other widely available topics, you might prefer to buy a ready-made flash card app. However, if you need to study unique content or simply want to organize it your way or do it for free, I definitely recommend Evernote Peek. It provides a slick, highly usable interface that let’s you get in some flash card style studying without adding any extra bulk to your bag.

Have you tried Evernote Peek? Do you know of and use other similar apps? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments below.

Published by

Michele Mizejewski

Michele is the UX Content Strategist at UCSF Library.

One thought on “Peek at the Answer”

  1. Our students recommend the free StudyBlue application for creating flashcards for use on mobile devices. Flashcards can be created either on the web interface or within the app. They can be created by spreadsheet upload. They can be shared amongst users. The application also recognizes speech.

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