Contributed by Dr. Cedric Aimal Edwin
As students resume studies after the winter holidays, the challenge of getting out of bed in the cold weather will begin haunting them. To overcome this challenge, we present top free tech tools for University and College students to improve their productivity and to be on top of deadlines and submissions.
The last 5 years has seen a significant improvement in educational apps for students. As growing number of students possess a smartphone, app developers are intrigued by the possibilities of bringing top educational solutions in the hands of the students. All the suggested apps are free and available on android and iOS platforms. Windows users may not have access to all the suggested apps but they can use the web versions.
So let’s make studying fun and spread study inspiration!
Evernote is a digital binder where you can keep all your notes for all your classes and other tasks. There are a number of note taking apps available, for instance, OneNote, SimpleNote, Google Keep, Hackpad etc. but Evernote has added functionality which others don’t. With multiple options of bagging information, such as, camera, handwriting, text, attachment, this app is most suitable for the needs of a university student. Evernote Clipper (Google Chrome
extension) for your laptops and desktops is an absolute essential as it allows you save and organize videos, documents and other web links which you may want view later. Other honorable mentions in this category are: Timetable and Exam Countdown.
Ryver is a team collaboration app, especially targeted to people who are working on long ongoing projects. For students working on their Final Year Projects (FYPs), Ryver can be life changing. Slack is a major competitor of Ryver and provides a better layout and platform. However, for a bigger team or multiple projects, Slack requires you to pay. Ryver, on the other hand, is free.
Trello is a project management tool which allows you to make what they call ‘cards’ containing a piece of information. You can comment on these cards or assign it to someone. You can reorganize them depending upon your priorities. There are a number of ‘to do’ apps available, such as, Wunderlist, Google Keep etc. But the simple layout of Trello and its ability to edit and share lists makes it the most efficient to-do app for university students.
4. Google apps
Google provides a range of apps for students and educators. Most of you will already be aware of Google Docs, Google Keep and Gmail. However, most of these apps have many hidden features and add-ons which are not so common. Boomerang is a Google Chrome extension which will allow you to draft an email and send it at your desired time even if you are offline. Moreover, if you have an email which does not require your attention at the moment, Boomerang allows you receive it at a time when you it becomes pertinent. Other useful extensions for students include:
Rapportive, Unshorten it, Password Alert, HTTPS Everywhere and Awesome Screenshot. A notable mention in the Google Apps category is Google Calendar. This self-learning calendar keeps a track of your daily activities and gives you reminders just when you need them.
Quizlet provides various tools for students to study. There are flashcards, study games, multiple choice questions, etc which allow you to test yourself. If you are a student who likes to cram things at the eleventh hour or if you want to dig deeper in a concept or subject, Quizlet can be your best companion.
Referencing is an essential part of any student’s assignments, projects and papers. RefME definitely makes the process of referencing much easier and efficient. You can scan the barcode of the book you are using for your research and it will create a bibliography. It offers students a variety of referencing formats. It also saves your references which you can access later.
Spendee helps you manage your finances. Many students end up over-spending. This app helps you stay on track with your money and give you alerts whenever you are over-spending. Mint Personal Finance might be another interesting option in this category. Windows users might need to use the web version before the app comes out on their platform.
8. Pomodoro Timer
Pomodoro Timer is basically a timer app based on the famous Pomodoro technique. This technique suggests that you study or work for 25 minutes and then take a break for 5 minutes. Pomodor Timer helps you organize your studying with breaks and reflection time in order for you to be more productive. So basically you study for as long as the timer is counting down and then take a short break before going back to study some more. It uses the method of counting down as it motivates students to keep studying and to try to make the most short time left.
Another notable mention in this category is Forest.
9. Course Hero
Course Hero is where you can find the best study resources. You can ask tutors for personalized homework help and you can share your own study resources to help others learn too. With Course Hero library of over 10 Million documents it is easy to find relevant study materials that will support what you are already learning in class. By uploading your existing documents to the Course Hero community, you can get unlocked study materials or you can download study material with a monthly subscription. What is great about Course Hero is that you can turn any
place into productive study session. With Course Hero app, you can take pictures of your assignment of where you are stuck and seek quality help from expert tutors.
10. Vocabulary Builder
If you are looking to improve your vocabulary and quiz yourself with new words and phrases then Vocabulary is a fantastic app. Educational psychologists prefer the idea of quizzing oneself while learning new words in contrast to just using a vocabulary list which gives you a few words each day. Learning is not only more effective but also more fun through quizzes. Vocabulary builder is a bit advanced for beginners but best suited for university students. If you prefer learning vocabulary in a conventional way, Magoosh Vocab Builder can be your choice.
Vocabulary.com is another useful resource in this category.
11. Self Control
One problem that almost all students face nowadays is the ability to remain focused. All students are hung up on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram so staying in focus can become a big challenge. The Self Control app tires to solve this problem by allowing you to block all apps on your smartphone except calling and texting applications. You can assign a certain period of time when this application blocks your other apps. Like the name suggests, it helps you control yourself during study time. Habitbull is another useful app in this category but works on a slightly
12. Breathe & Relax
Resuming studies after a break can sometimes be a bit daunting and stressful so it might be help to consider downloading a few apps to help you remain calm. Breathe & Relax is great because it allows you to rate your level of stress at the beginning (which I hope is not too high!) and then there are short breathing exercises you can do. As you do these exercises, there is a small meter on the side that helps you slow down your breathing and helps you focus on other things rather than your feeling of stress. Other notable mention in this category is an app called Calm.