Flash My Brain

Flash My Brain is a $20, browser-based application that allows you to create flashcards for just about anything.  You may be thinking that anyone with internet access can get a huge number of flashcards for just about anything already, without paying any fee, and you’d be right.  The difference between Flash My Brain and the free alternatives is versatility.  With Flash My Brain, you can put your own content, which includes images and text, as well as sound (for browser-based review of the flashcards).  I often appreciated using flashcards available on the internet, but there were times when I wanted to add or modify information on them and couldn’t.  Flash My Brain allows you to make the cards that serve your purpose perfectly, whether you want to review them through the browser (to study for a test), or print them.  I generally print my cards and laminate them for classroom use, as they get destroyed fairly quickly if they’re not laminated.

Flash My Brain offers a wide variety of printing options, which separate Flash My Brain from other flashcard options.  If you make flashcards in Microsoft Word, for example, you are tied to printing the cards in the size you created them- if your cards are 4 cm by 6 cm, then they can only be printed at that size.  With Flash My Brain, however, you create your cards and the application can resize all of the content automatically and allow you to print it out in 6 different formats, including a custom format.  You can also make flashcards for use on an iOS device.

As I indicated before, I paid 20 US dollars for Flash My Brain (a one-time fee, not a subscription).  Considering how often I use it and the benefits of flashcard use for students, it’s a tremendous bargain.  One more thing: you can access a large public library of flashcards other people have created, and choose to make your own flashcards public as well.


English for M. Ed.

ESP for M. Ed Students

I’m teaching an ESP class at a university in Thailand and enjoying the interaction with fellow educators, particularly those who teach English and are looking for new teaching methods.

It’s also an opportunity to demonstrate some of the computer based learning and teaching elements I’ve been using, such as QuestionWriter, Duolingo, and Flash My Brain.

I described QuestionWriter here last year and am using it with several of my classes; over time, I’ve noticed there are a lot of benefits in using it for content delivery, quizzes, tests and exams, including:

  1. Eliminating the need for paper used to make the test, and all of the effort that goes into having copies made and delivered.  This saves both time and money.  I also appreciate not having to walk to another part of the school in the heat of the day to transport a large stack of paper, particularly in Thailand.
  2. Students appreciate a diversion from the traditional teaching approach of written quizzes, tests and exams.  It’s different and it can be coupled with some fun online exercises.
  3. The amount of marking to be done is either eliminated or dramatically reduced because almost all of it is done by the software.  As someone who becomes tired of marking the same quiz, test or exam over and over, I really appreciate this aspect.  It also eliminates the possibility of human errors in marking.
  4. A student can receive instant scores from his or her effort on a test, instead of waiting for it to be marked.  Students can also review their tests immediately and discover where they made mistakes.  In an increasingly impatient world, this is important.
  5. Course content can be incorporated into QuestionWriter, and combined with some other online delivery of content (a blog, a course delivery website such as eliademy, or a dedicated website).  This is important because paper books may be unavailable in sufficient numbers when you need them, or not available at all.  You are subject to the distributor’s supply.  Recently, the students in one course at our school had to wait 5 weeks for their textbooks to arrive.
  6. Students cannot lose or forget the textbook, notebook or other work they complete.
  7. Students can access the content on QuestionWriter 24-7, unlike a traditional learning environment, and are able to do so on their mobile phones, tablets and personal computers.  This makes it convenient and perfect for blended learning programs.
  8. Errors resulting from the illegibility of handwriting are eliminated in computer based input.

Duolingo is a website offering language learning for speakers of many languages; you choose the language you speak, and the language you want to learn, then begin using their interface, which has a friendly, cartoon-like appearance.  Experience points and awards are given for completion of sections, along with cheerful motivation as you progress.  It’s a pleasant way to gradually build your language skill, and I’m waiting for them to complete their English course for Thai speakers.  I’ll post a full review when some of my students can start the course.

I have used Flash My Brain since 2013 to create flashcards for courses I’ve taken and taught, and it has been very useful.  There are a lot of places to get flashcards on the internet, but there are times when you want cards with specific content, and that’s where Flash My Brain shines.  You have access to not only flashcards that you create, but a large library of cards created by other Flash My Brain users that they have made publicly accessible.  You can put text and graphics into the cards, make them double sided, and have a wide variety of printing options.  The printing options are what separate Flash My Brain from other browser based flashcard creators.  I’ll write a longer review of Flash My Brain in the near future.

Gaming Cafes in the Bangkok Area, Part 3

Game on at Game Over

A friend of mine discovered Game Over Lounge in Bangkok recently, and decided to have his 30th birthday bash there.  It turned out to be a good choice for such an occasion, as Game Over not only serves up a large selection of games, they have some very nice coffee (slow drip, no less), a lot of good craft beer and some truly tasty food.  Unlike most gaming cafes, which cater solely to the rapidly expanding tabletop game market, Game Over also has a wide selection of electronic games: consoles and gaming PC’s with single and multiple displays.  There are foosball tables and a pool table as well.


A pool table is available if you prefer more movement in your games

In order to play any of the games at Game Over, at least one person in your group must be a member.  The membership requires a fee, which varies according to the length of the term- the conditions for different levels of membership are spelled out in a PDF on their website.  A single day membership is available, but the price is not listed on the PDF.

Here’s a list of the tabletop games available at Game Over.  Unfortunately, there is no list of PC games available on the website, nor is there a list of the console games.  The console platforms include Playstation 4, X-Box One and Wii-U.  If you’d like more details about which games are available, give them a call between 11 am and 2 am at 021707684.

Food and Beverage

I had some Beer Lao and an Epic IPA and enjoyed both types. The Epic had an interesting lemony taste and not a lot of carbonation, which made it easy to drink.  Game Over has a very good, eclectic selection of craft beer.

Game Over Beer

Craft beer front and center as you place your order 🙂

I love burgers, so I had to try one here- I chose a Mr. Steve, which was very tasty; sort of smoky and savoury.  The fries, however, were a different story.  They were similar to McDonald’s fries, but when we went to get them they were dry, stiff and only warm, not hot.  The taste was mediocre, not what you’d expect for 90 baht when you can get better ones at a fast food restaurant for one-third the price.  I’m not sure why they wouldn’t go with freshly cut fries- they’re simple to make, taste great and would befit the quality of their burgers.  Our fries also came about 15 minutes after the burger, through a service system that requires the customer to order at the counter and also pick up their own food.  In a fast food restaurant, you expect to order and receive your food at the counter, but if you’re paying 200-300 baht for a gourmet burger and extra for side dishes, then it’s reasonable to expect that it will be brought to your table.

Game Over 1

The large central area of Game Over Lounge

Minor issues aside, Game Over Lounge is definitely worth checking out, especially if you love games of any type.

Game on!

Note: the map on their Facebook page is actually incorrect, the real location is here.  You enter by going around the back of the building.

I Like HDTV- International TV Options, Part 3

I Like HDTV Update

In an earlier post I offered some information about I Like HDTV.  I’ve been using their ‘VOD Movies’ service for about 4 months, so I can now relate a longer-term perspective.

I use I Like HDTV with the application provided by the service on an Android box.  The Android box is connected via HDMI to my television and the service has worked well overall, aside from a couple of relatively minor issues.  The first issue occurs when pausing a movie- if a movie is paused for more than a minute or so, it may cause the I Like HDTV application to crash, and the viewer will have to either restart the application or restart the movie, or both.  It happens about 20% of the time a movie is paused, regardless of the platform used- you can watch movies on a personal computer through the browser, or on an IOS or Android device.  The frequency of the crashes, however, seems to have significantly diminished over the time I’ve used the service.  When I began to use the service, the frequency of crashes was closer to 70% when paused.  The second issue is the number of movies available; there are probably 2000 or so, but there aren’t enough good new releases, and once you’ve watched the good older films in the I Like HDTV catalogue, you’re stuck with a lot of mediocrity.  To the company’s credit, they do seem to be gradually expanding their roster of films (they claim over 2000).  They have added an adult film category and expanded the number of live television channels since I began using the service.

Overall, I’m pleased with I Like HDTV, I just hope that they accelerate the expansion of their catalogue in the coming year.  It’s an inexpensive option for watching films, at 200 baht per month, which is less than the price of 2 seats for a film at a theatre in Bangkok.  Customers can use TrueMoney, PayPal, a credit card or online banking to buy points on the website.  You then use those points to buy a television or movie package.

ILikeHDTV Service List


Gaming Cafes in the Bangkok Area, Part 2

Combining Two Loves

I love coffee and games, so any opportunity to combine the two is something I have to check out.  I’ve just been to Bitbox Boardgame Cafe, one of the gaming cafes in the Bangkok area I discovered thanks to Facebook, and I’m happy to say I had a good time.  The Americano and hazelnut latte I had were very good, but I didn’t try any of the desserts- there are many types of waffles, ice cream and gelato.  I’ll give them a go next time.  Customers can also have food brought in from a nearby restaurant, which is pretty typical in Thailand; I saw a couple of gamers playing some kind of collectible card game while their dinner came in from next door.


It’s a bit smaller inside than I thought it might be, but they have enough room on the ground floor for about 20 gamers and several large tables for about 10-15 gamers on the second floor.  There are a lot of games (around 50), well placed in cubby holes on the walls and the atmosphere is friendly and hospitable.

I had a long chat with David, one of the owners.  He told me that tabletop games have become more and more popular in Thailand over the past few years, and the trend is continuing upwards. His business philosophy is to build good relationships with his customers over the long-term, which I believe is a wise strategy.  All of the owners are regularly working in the cafe, which helps to ensure good service.


David, one of the owners of Bitbox Boardgame Cafe.

Bitbox Boardgame Cafe is very close to Kasetsart University’s Bang Khen campus and the intersection of Phahon Yothin Road and Ngamwongwan Road.  Their vital information is on their Facebook page here.  It’s definitely worth a visit, whether for coffee or games.


Gamers on the 2nd floor of Bitbox playing a card based tabletop game that uses figurines and dungeon tiles.

As always, game on!

Gaming Cafes in the Bangkok Area

Eat, Drink and Play More Games

In a previous post I wrote about gaming cafes in Canada, those eateries where they have a collection of tabletop games and tables that are suitable for gaming.  You can go to the gaming cafe and simply have a coffee or some food, but you can also play a variety of games.  You can even bring your own games to play.  It seems as though the concept has begun to catch on in Bangkok as well, as I’ve found a few gaming cafe pages on Facebook over the past few days.  There are two near Kasetsart University: Bitbox Boardgame Cafe on Ngamwongwan Road and Box & Brew Café and Board Games on Phahon Yothin Road.  There are several downtown, including More Than a Game Café next to the Chulalongkorn University campus, FineDay Board Game Cafe, which is not far from the MRT stop Thailand Cultural Center and Meeples & More Board Game Cafe near Lumphini Park.

Meeples and More

I wish I had visited them all, but I’ve just found them, so I’ll put some information up once I’ve had a look.  Game on!


Role Playing Games for English Language Learners, Part 3

In two prior posts, I discussed using role playing games to teach English and higher order thinking skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and analysis.  You can find the first one here and the second one here.  In this post I’ll outline some of the instructional elements I’ve used to teach the players.

Prior to the playing session, I take a prepared adventure and read it, making note of teachable moments in the text.  I will also begin compiling  a list of vocabulary for the students to learn, and at the beginning of the session I’ll have them find the definitions and record them in their session journal.  As I indicated in a previous post, each student will have a two-sided character sheet and a journal in which they will record language learned and what happened in the adventure.  The journal element fulfills the writing component of the lesson and in turn allows the student to practice all 4 of the language skill areas: listening, speaking, reading and writing.  The logical integration of practice in all 4 of the language skill areas is another reason why using role playing games for teaching language is so effective.

It’s probably best to teach students who are at least 13 years of age and possess at least a mid-beginner level of English ability.  Students younger than 13 tend to lack the maturity to play the game in a constructive way and those with a level of English ability below mid-beginner may not be able to handle the language demands.  You may find, however, that there are exceptions, so you can have a trial run with those students to see if it’s worthwhile for them.  One of the great things about role playing games is that they are cooperative, and lend themselves very well to peer teaching.  I really enjoy watching the students learn how to help and teach each other.

When I have the prepared adventure, I will rewrite elements of it to suit the language level of the players.  Generally, this means rewriting the encounter descriptions, but can also include other information I know I will have to relate to my group of players.  It can be time-consuming, but it’s essential to make sure they understand what’s going on.  I will appoint a student to write down important information as it becomes available; I choose a different person each time.  I will appoint another student to keep track of hit points and treasure.

I integrate the encounters with language and problem solving exercises whenever appropriate.  TGM’s need to make sure that gameplay does not suffer because a language exercise is too complicated or long.  The main reason adolescent students want to play is because of the fun they can have; if the language learning demands are too great, they’ll lose interest.  Each group and session will be different, so the TGM will have to decide on a case-by-case basis.

A number of the language exercises I use are:

  • Having the students read the ‘encounter information’. This is the ‘What the players see…’ information that the Game Master would commonly read to players in a non-teaching gaming session.
  • Short cloze exercises that have vocabulary from the adventure session list.
  • Matching exercises that have vocabulary from the adventure session list.
  • Puzzles that use language and information learned in that adventure session and previous sessions.
  • Cryptogram exercises that have vocabulary from the adventure session list.
  • Role playing conversations with NPC’s and monsters.
  • Asking the TGM questions and answering questions that the TGM asks.
  • Writing a journal entry about that session’s events.

Role playing games are, in and of themselves, great learning vehicles.  If you combine RPG’s with a language plan, you have a learning opportunity where social development, higher order thinking skill development, language acquisition and fun all happily coexist.  When they are used thoughtfully, it’s difficult to imagine anything more effective.

Game on!