Learning cards with ILIAS

Flashcards - often called vocabulary cards or index cards - are a popular method for learning or recapping on specific contents such as vocabulary or definitions.

ILIAS offers the possibility to provide such flashcards digitally now.

Flashcard training is based on the Sebastian Leitner’s flashcard principle. According to this, the flashcards consist of 5 boxes. The flashcards in the start box should be looked at and practiced every day. If one has solved/answered the cards correctly, the cards can move to the second box. The cards in the second box are revised every second day, those the third box, every third day, etc. A difficult or unsolved card moves back to the first box. Difficult contents can thus be revised often. In this way, contents are continually revised and stored in long-term memory.


These boxes are virtually replicated online.

Why deploy flashcards?
The flashcard tool offers students an opportunity to revise contents, independent of place and time and to store it long-term in their memory. Sequence effects are avoided by mixing the cards in the boxes.

Digital flashcards are not just text-based and can achieve greater effectiveness by enhancement with additional audio-visual media.

How do I deploy the flashcard tool?
The flashcard tool / flashcard training is an object in ILIAS that can be appended to a course in ILIAS. It can be linked to from within an ILIAS study module.

Flashcard setup is based on a glossary created in ILIAS. The cards can be administered using this structure. Also, pre-existing glossary (e.g. from a study module) can be provided to the students as flashcards.

The flashcard teaching content can be organised using the ILIAS-Editor. Multimedia contents (images, video, sound) can also be integrated in the process.

The card side which is to be retrieved (front or back side) can be freely selected in the settings.

The flashcard tool is suitable for...

  • ...revision of specific contents from a course

  • ...learning vocabulary

  • ...learning definitions of terms

  • ...learning simple (chemical or mathematical) formulae

  • ...memorising declensions / conjugations

  • ...memorising simple correlations

  • ...revising contents based on closed questions

  • ...labelling illustrations

  • ...learning procedures or sequences of steps

  • ...querying comprehension of video/sound recordings (for instance in the form of closed questions)

  • ...and much more!

Flashcards are especially suited for practising and retaining declarative knowledge.

What are the stumbling blocks?
With this tool, the emphasis is on practising and memorising contents. This can potentially obstruct cross-linking of knowledge from different fields. Hence, for example, it is not advisable to learn the meaning of vocabulary in word-to-word equations (German - English (Freund - friend)) without context. Flashcards should be designed so that they display contexts (e.g. new vocabulary in short sample sentences).

Care should also be taken that the contents offered on a card is measured out in a well thought out manner. For instance, the written word, a visualisation of it with an image and a reading (sound) of this word is too much for our working memory. In this case, less is more.

Regular study with the flashcards is necessary so that long-term success results. If necessary, a motivating incentive may be needed by the students and regular reminders / prompts to use the flashcards.

No more than ten flashcards should be studied per day.

When creating the flashcards, care must be taken that they contain no errors or incorrect contents, otherwise errors will be learned alongside and can then only be ‘unlearned’ with difficulty.

How do I set up flashcards? / Where can I get help?
Flashcards can be set up in the ILIAS study management system and linked into the existing learning modules. Instructions for setting up flashcards in ILIAS can be found in the column on the right. You are welcome to learn more about this in an ILIAS additional training course. Please check out our current range of courses.