May 312011

ankiEver heard of Anki ?
No ???

Well, get ready to see a great open source program for learning, I’ve started using it and I’ve been amazed by this little gem.
Anki is a program which makes remembering things easy. Because it is a lot more efficient than traditional study methods, you can either greatly decrease your time spent studying, or greatly increase the amount you learn.

How it works

There are two simple concepts behind Anki: active recall testing and spaced repetition. They are not known to most learners, despite having been written about in the scientific literature for many years. Understanding how they work will make you a more effective learner.

Active recall testing means being asked a question and trying to remember the answer. This is in contrast to passive study, where we read, watch or listen to something without pausing to consider if we known the answer. Research has shown that active recall testing is far more effective at building strong memories than passive study.

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.

Anki achieves all this thanks to the cards and decks.

In anki a question and answer pair is called a card. This is based on a paper flashcard with a question on one side an the answer on the back. In Anki a card doesn’t actually look like a physical card, and when you show the answer the question remains visible by default.

A deck is a file on your computer which contains cards. You can use different decks for different topics, or keep all your information in one deck.

Ok, but how the program work ?

The easiest way to understand how it works is to check this introductory video:


Anki is available on Debian and Ubuntu, but on my Ubuntu 11.04 Anki is released at the version 1.0.1 so i suggest to install the .deb package that is released from the official site (version 1.2.8).

sudo dpkg -i anki_1.2.8-1_all.deb
sudo apt-get -f install

Probably the dpkg will give you errors for missing dependencies, if so give the apt-get command that will install anki and all the dependencies.

Using Anki

On the first run you’ ll be presented with the download option.
You can download “cards” about different languages like Chinese, Japanese, or most of the european languages or other things like ITIL or Linux certification.
Try to download something and run it, probably it will not so useful to you, the best part of this program is in fact about creating your personal “cards”.

For example, let’s say you are studying Italian, while you study you create cards with sentences in Italian with 1 or more missing words, perhaps giving an hint about them in English, and as answer the correct word/s. Over time you’ll have a great number of “cards” and you can use them to review your progress and test what you have learnt.

More features

  • Review anywhere. Anki lets you study on your own computer, online, on your cell phone or other portable devices like an iPod touch.
  • Synchronization features let you keep your information across multiple computers.
  • Shared decks allow you to divide work between friends, and let teachers push material to many students at once.
  • Intelligent scheduler based on the SuperMemo SM2 algorithm.
  • Flexible fact/card model that allows you to generate multiple views of information, and input information in the format you wish. You’re not limited to predefined styles.
  • Fully extensible, with a large number of plugins already available.
  • Optimized for speed, and will handle reviewing decks of 100,000+ cards with no problems.
  • Open Source

So you can write your own cards at home or at work from a computer (Anki also supports Windows and Mac), put the deck online, start the session and then save it online, then maybe take a train and continue the session on your smathphone, brilliant.


If you work on IT you are always studying something, and this little gem could help you in make this more funnier and efficient, i’ve started the LPIC Linux certification, and you ?

Really suggested !!

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