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The Top Apps For Today’s Switched-On Student

There has never been a better time to be a student: there is a vast range of devices and programs to help you take the slog out of studying, leaving you to concentrate on the information that really matters. So take a plunge into the world of educational apps and you might be tempted to put them to use. No more big piles of paper, no more post-it notes, no more trekking to the library for heavy books – and you can even just keep in touch with your tutor on Skype!

Today’s student is anything but chained to a desk. Indeed, many students complete high-level courses without ever having set foot in a classroom. Thanks to technology, course content – such as books, documents, PowerPoint presentations and video – can now be accessed anyplace there is an Internet signal, i.e. almost everywhere in the world. Conference calls, webinars and messaging mean students can be in constant contact with tutors, though they may be separated by continents.

For the modern student, the world is, quite literally, their classroom. They can not only study at home, but also in a café, in the park or on the train. And now, with the ubiquity of tablets and smartphones, a whole host of cool and handy apps have been developed to make their study leaner, more informed, more efficient and more fun.

Below we review our choice of 15 of the Top Apps for Today’s Switched-On Student. You might disagree with the order, but there’s plenty here to whet the appetite!

1/ Wikipedia 

Wikipedia

The Daddy. There was once a time when Wikipedia did not exist – but nobody remembers what it was like. Now finally available for Android as well as iPhone, the free Wikipedia app gives access to the database of 20 million articles in 280 languages, and allows users to read bookmarked entries later, when offline. Articles can be shared and can also be read in a different language without switching the language of the whole site. Though many Wiki companion apps already exist, the importance of Wikipedia to the Internet community makes the official app worth supporting. Download Wikipedia for Apple devices Download Wikipedia for Android devices

2/ Evernote 

Evernote

A handy little app compatible with most mobile platforms, Evernote allows you to take notes on your smartphone which you can then tag with words, phrases, date tags or other info in order to reference later. Perhaps the most useful feature of Evernote is that it can sync up with your online account and specifically the favourites tool, enabling you to save notes and access them even when you aren’t logged in. Download Evernote for Apple devices Download Evernote for Android devices 

3/ Penultimate 

Penultimate

If you’re one of those people who find that they only really take information on board when you write it down by hand, you’re in luck with this app. Currently only available for Apple devices, Penultimate is a note-taking app that shows you the date created and number of pages of all the notebooks you create. The notes you take can be sync-ed up with Evernote and Dropbox, so can be easily emailed to yourself and others. It still has a way to go, but if you’re happy taking notes with just your finger and you don’t mind only writing in black it’s definitely worth a try. However if you want to use it to write your next novel, you’ll have to wait a bit! Android users can use its poor relation, GenialWriting. Download Penultimate for Apple devices Download GenialWriting for Android devices

4/ Wolfram/Alpha

Wolfram/Alpha

Do my homework, please! Connected to thousands of domains, with more constantly being added, this is the app that can do almost anything, Astronomy, Mathematics, Human and Life Sciences, Engineering, Geography, Media, Business, Music, Linguistics, you name it, Wolfram/Alpha uses its vast collection of algorithms and data to answer any question you wish to ask. With dedicated Course Assistant Apps for specific subject areas, Wolfram/Alpha is an undoubted leader in mobile knowledge computation systems. Download Wolfram/Alpha for Apple devices Download Wolfram/Alpha for Android devices

5/ Diigo

Diigo

Standing for Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other stuff, the Diigo is a cloud-based information management system that allows you to bookmark pages from your browser. Diigo is more than just another social bookmarking tool, however. You can take screenshots or add digital sticky notes and highlights which will reappear when you revisit the page and which you can email (to anybody) complete with your annotations. Highlight any word(s) and a drop-down menu appears which lets you search across entire search engines, inbound URL links or blogs. Very cool indeed. Download Diigo for Apple devices Download Diigo for Android devices

6/ Droidscan

Droidscan

Need to make a quick copy of a page in the library? Xerox machine broken or no time to wait in the queue? Need to scan that handout from the lesson you missed. No problem. Droidscan is a free app for Android users that acts as a full or partial document scanner simply by using the point and shoot scanner on your smartphone, converting the images into .jpeg or .pdf files and saving at a high, readable resolution. Invaluable. Droidscan is not available for download for Apple devices at the time of writing. Download Droidscan for Android devices

7/ Advanced Learners’ Dictionary

Advanced Learners' Dictionary

The Cambridge University Press is without doubt the world’s leading publishing house for English Language Learning. The inexpensive Advanced Learner’s Dictionary App references the awesome research expertise and referencing power of this organisation, with definitions and examples for around 170,000 words, over 78,000 recordings of UK and US English pronunciations, 25,000 collocations, plus tips on style and usage. With sophisticated searching tools and no Internet connection necessary this dictionary is a must-have for foreign students studying in English. Download Advanced Learners’ Dictionary for Apple devices Download Advanced Learners’ Dictionary for Android devices

8/ Edmodo

Edmodo

The free Edmodo app enables teachers and students to stay connected and send notes, check assignments, track grades and receive news of upcoming events while away from the classroom. A safe and secure social learning tool, Edmodo does not require student email addresses and only people that have the group code can see the students. Initially available only for Apple devices, Edmodo is now available for Android users too. Download Edmodo for Apple devices Download Edmodo for Android devices

9/ Bubbl.us

Bubbl.us

Probably the leader in the mind-mapping tools now coming to market, the Bubbl.us a is free, colourful and simple-to-use app for brainstorming ideas, either your own or in conjunction with others. A multi-platform app, you can begin brainstorming straight away without signing up and can print or save your mind map as a .jpeg or .png image. Sign up for free and you can save the mind-map for later use. Bubbl.us is not currently available for Apple devices, but there is a similar app available. Download a similar app to MindJet for Apple devices Download Bubbl.us for Android devices

10/ Astrid

Astrid

Astrid is an open source to-do list / task manager which enables you to make to-do lists and share them with collaborators. Featuring reminders, sync-ing, a widget and instant notifications, the app is useful for peer-learning tasks and a social talking point in its own right as it promptly reminds you to get your homework done! Astrid is now backed by Google ventures and looks set to expand its range and features even further. Download Astrid for Apple devices Download Astrid for Android devices

11/ Dropbox

Dropbox

When you have collected all the information and written all your essays using the applications above, you need to be sure that you keep it. And when you save it, it would be great if you could get hold of it from wherever you are in the world, wouldn’t it? And what if you were working on a project with someone else and you wanted to be able to share all the files specific to that project? Or even allow a tutor to look at your progress? All of this is possible using Dropbox – and as it’s free to store up to 2Gb. Download Dropbox for Apple devices Download Dropbox for Android devices

12/ TED

TED

Though not specifically an ‘educational’ app, TED is a fantastically educative app. TED (short for Technology, Entertainment and Development) is an annual conference, running under the motto ‘ideas worth spreading’ and including speakers such as Bill Clinton, Brian Cox, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and even chef Jamie Oliver. And this app allows you to share in them, with videos of all the speakers to date. The range of subjects on offer is almost endless, so whatever you are studying, you can be sure that there is a TED talk to shed more light on it! Download TED for Apple devices Download TED for Anroid devices

13/ 2Do: Tasks Done in Style

Wikipedia

Though it is only available for iPad and iPhones, 2Do has quite a few fans. This is because it does seem to be truly capable of tying together and synching up a few other apps, such as Dropbox, calendars and alarms, contact lists, maps, shopping lists – well everything that you would need on a to-do list plus all the resources you would need to accomplish it. Often on your phone, which is really where you need it. If this seems like a case of ‘too much information’, you’d be wrong. The design behind 2Do makes it all possible, and that’s why it’s a pretty indispensable once you’ve started using it. As they are available for a Nokia now, an Android version can’t be far away … Download 2Do for Apple devices

14/ Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation

So you think Dragon Dictation is just for typing letters and books? Think again! Nowadays you can write emails and documents straight onto your device, and the software (as it has always done) learns how you speak and types it up for you. Spelt correctly! Now you may think this is just another way for people to get away without being able to spell, but think about predictive text. Think of the irritation of typing on your phone touch-pad saying the wrong thing and having to start again. Or, even worse, not even noticing your mistakes! The only thing you have to be careful of when using this app is that everyone can hear what you’re typing … Although this app is only available for Apple users, Android devices can use FlexT9. Download Dragon Dictation for Apple devices Download FlexT9 for Android devices

15/ Kindle

Kindle

Last but not least, with access to the million plus books, magazines and newspapers in the Kindle store, the Kindle App lets you shop for books or simply read the free ones. The app also syncs your books across devices, so you can automatically pick up where you left off whatever device you are on. You also get a built in dictionary with definitions or direct links to Google and Wikipedia. With this app, it becomes kind of hard to see why you’d really need a Kindle reader! If you do have a Kindle however, you’ll be able to read all the course documents and handouts from The Brighton School of Business and Management, which are delivered in pdf form. You can also access all the courses via Moodle, their Virtual Learning Environment, where tutors are in close and constant contact, guiding students towards the business or management qualification that will enable them to gain the internationally-accredited skills and qualifications they need to get ahead in the business world. Download Kindle for Apple devices Download Kindle for Android devices Millions of busy people are discovering the exciting technological tools that can help make online study a more flexible, cheaper, fun and format-rich option. With tablets and smartphones growing in performance, apps like these – and others – not only complement studies in traditional classrooms, they also show how effective study and communication can take place without having to enter a classroom at all.


  • http://www.careerconsultuk.com Clive

    As a recent mature student myself, and supporting mature students as a distance learning tutor, I can vouch for some of these apps …. Wikipedia is very useful – just needs a touch of care as some of the articles are a little biased (but that’s true of many sources!) … the Kindle – portable, easy to read anywhere (literally anywhere) and huge capacity … DropBox – or any cloud storage such as Google’s or Microsoft’s .. is a very low cost storage option (and as a bonus for tutor’s virtually eliminates the “can’t submit my assignment -my laptop was stolen” excuse!) … and Dragon – I use Dragon Naturally Speaking and it’s very good, almost as fast as touch typing and the phone/ipad version is as good when used for notes and assignment writing on the move and in a variety of study places …. a great list !!

    Clive

  • Julia

    Thanks for your feedback Clive, there were a few apps that we had to miss out as the intention was to include apps for different devices. It’s so interesting to see the increasing value of the online world to education.

  • Jill Frazier

    So hard to keep up when you’re dealing with learners on various platforms. This is a great summary.

  • JuliaDunlop

    Thanks, Jill – I’m sure it will have all changed by now! Time for a re-write?

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