In the Studies flashcard programme, roles do not affect behavior

Studies is a flashcard program for Mac, iPhone and iPad. I use it to learn vocabulary and to memorize geological periods, geographical areas, brain parts and other things I need to know by heart. Studies’ basic learning unit is a note (similar to a traditional flash card); a note consists of one of more facets (the sides of the flashcard). For example, my stack to improve my English vocabulary consists of notes with two facets, named ‘Phrase’ and ‘Explanation’. Studies refers to the names of the facets as ‘role’ and this confused me into thinking that I can change the functioning of a facet by changing its name.


A screenshot of a note with two facets, one with the ‘Phrase’ role, the other with the ‘Explanation’ role.

In Studies, Notes are created from templates that store “structural aspects like font, text alignment, background color, and facet role.” The help-file explains that

a note can have as many facets as you choose, and you can label each facet with a particular role. For example, you could have a simple note with just one facet, similar to a sticky, or you could make Question and Answer notes, with one facet in the role of Question, and one as Answer (emphasis in original)

I usually want to practice vocabulary both ways, from ‘First language’ to ‘Second language’ and from ‘Second language’ to ‘First language’. In Studies’ lingo this requires that both facets “can be used as prompt” (that is, as question). This option is incorporated in the build-in Translation and Reversible Note templates.

For other types of stacks, I prefer the ‘Question and Answer’ template in which the facet with the ‘Question’ role is the only one that can be used as prompt.

I sometimes want to change an existing note from two-way to one-way or the other way round. From one-way to two-way is easy: just apply the Reversible Note or the Translation template. To change the first facet of a two-way note into the only facet that can be used as prompt, I apply the Question and Answer template to that note.

There is, however, no build-in template in which the second facet becomes the only one that can be used as prompt. So, I decided to make my own one.

Assuming that the behavior of a facet could be changed by changing its role, I changed the role of the first facet of a Translation note into ‘Answer’ and that of the second facet into ‘Question’ and made a new template ‘Answer and Question’ from that note.

Unfortunately, that didn’t work.

The reason: the so-called roles are mere labels; they affect neither the behavior nor the appearance of the facet:

A note can have as many facets as you choose, and you can label each facet with a particular role. For example, you could have a simple note with just one facet, similar to a sticky, or you could make Question and Answer notes, with one facet in the role of Question, and one as Answer (emphasis mine)

The behavior of a facet is controlled by its top-left buttons:

The left-most one determines whether or not the facet can be used as a prompt.

To obtain a working Answer and Question template, I opened a note created from my Answer and Question template and disabled the left-most top-left button of its first facet.

Next, I made a new Answer and Question template from the modified note by clicking the New Template button in the toolbar at the bottom of the note editing window:

NewImage

In the resulting save dialog, I selected ‘Answers and Question’ and clicked ‘Modify’:

This overwrites the original Answer and Question template with the modified one.

However, it does not change existing notes. I couldn’t find a way to automatically apply the modifications to all Answer and Question notes. It seems also not possible to gather or filter out all notes conforming to that template.

As a work-around, I flag notes that don’t work as they should when I study a stack and apply the modified template to each flagged note afterwards.

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