AnkiEM Evolution – Flashcard Exchange & Flashcards Deluxe

In Knowledge Translation by Brent Thoma6 Comments

For the background on this project check out my post The AnkiEM Project. Basically, when I started making cards to review for my board exams I knew that I wanted to use a spaced-repetition flashcard tool (thanks to Chris Nickson‘s from Life in the Fast Lane for exposing me to this concept) and Anki seemed like the best bet. However, as I collected feedback from Eve PurdyAndrew TaggJoshua Power and Reuben Strayer I began to consider other alternatives. Specifically, I agreed with Joshua Power that it would be ideal for FOAMites to adopt a universal platform that would allow for sharing our flashcard decks. Anki was not ideal because it was unable to interact with any of the online flashcard sites or other apps, its interface left something to be desired, and the price for Apple users was prohibitive (>$20).

I figured that if I was going to invest all of this time making these flashcards, I better do it right the first time. The more of them I made the more difficult it would be to convert down the road. And so I began a search for the ultimate flashcard program. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

There are a TON of flashcard programs and apps. So many, in fact, that a website was even made to with the sole purpose of comparing them! My first step was to define the features my “ideal” program would:

  • Incorporate spaced repetition
  • Multiplatform (Android/iPhone)
  • Compatible with other flashcard apps
  • Syncable with a cloud system
  • Great interface
  • 5-star user reviews
  • Affordable on all platforms
  • Allow for images

It took me quite awhile, but I think I found a combination of an app and website that can almost do it all.

The App: Flashcards Deluxe

Flashcards Deluxe is a boringly named multiplatform app with amazing reviews, an intuitive interface and great user reviews that incorporates spaced repetition. For easier flashcard-making, it is compatible with two prominent online flashcard repositories – Quizlet and Flashcard Exchange. It retails for a one-time cost of <$5 on the App Store and Google Play. While it does sync its spaced repetition data with Dropbox and/or Google Docs, the platforms that I prefer to make/edit my cards on does not automatically sync. This is a small inconvenience that I think is overcome by the benefits that come with using this app.

The Platform: Flashcard Exchange

As part of the switch, I’ve converted my flashcard decks to Flashcard Exchange. I chose this platform over Quizlet because it allows images to be used on the cards without additional fees. A bonus of hosting my cards on Flashcard Exchange is that they are easily downloadable to Flashcards Deluxe as well as most other flashcard apps. If you prefer another app to Flashcards Deluxe (or have already purchased one) it is likely that you will still be able to make use of cards hosted here.


I think this is a great way to go for my own studying and it is what I would recommend to any FOAMites considering making their own flashcards and willing to share. Within the next day or so, the AnkiEM Project page will undergo a renovation to reflect this switch. In the meantime, if you’re interested in checking out my decks (Rosen’s Chapters 145-155 are finished) you can download them off of Flashcard Exchange (just search BoringEM). In addition to the Rosen’s chapter reviews, I will also be making a deck summarizing the memory devices used in each of the BoringEM Tiny Tips.

I am still quite open to feedback on my app/website choices… but I don’t particularly want to convert to another entirely new platform!

Dr. Brent Thoma is a medical educator, blogging geek, and trauma/emergency physician who works at the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine. He founded BoringEM and is the CEO of CanadiEM.