Tech tips to try to improve academics
By: Matthew Worsham – Asst. Opinions Editor
Today’s students grew up with the Internet. We learned at a young age that the entirety of human knowledge was available to us with a few clicks, and that the ‘net can be a great resource for homework and studying in any subject.
However, some websites are better than others. When it comes to using the Internet to become a more effective student,
I highly recommend the following services and applications.
Electronic media has created incredible opportunities for communicating with other people, and if you’d like to learn to communicate across a language barrier, online options have never been better.
Check out Duolingo, which offers 100 percent free online language courses. By inviting (not requiring) its students to translate real web articles for outside organizations, Duolingo generates revenue which it uses to support its current services and facilitate the development of new language courses.
Best of all, it plays like a game, and you can compete against yourself or your friends as you go. So if you’re a Candy
Crush junkie looking for a more productive outlet for your time between classes, give this non-profit a chance. And yes, there is an app for it.
I like to pair this resource with About.com, a web giant that contains articles about everything under the sun. It’s a great source of supplementary lessons for your classroom or online language courses and contains a wealth of knowledge for history, science and math. Most students are probably familiar with this site already, but I’d like to stress the
About.com language sites, as I’ve always found them especially helpful.
Even better, though, is the Kahn Academy. Another non-profit, this site offers awesome video lectures. They are clear, concise and most importantly free. You could probably take an entire calculus course from this site, but it’s also great for finding a refresher on a long-forgotten trigonometry topic. They have something for every student, from finance to art, and even have MCAT prep.
All of this is great for individual work, but what about group studying and projects? If you’ve ever had trouble finding a time when everybody in a group is free, try whenisgood.net. You don’t even have to create an account before you use their online scheduling tool. Just choose all of the meeting times that work well for you, email the link to your group members, and have them do the same. It will present you with a list of times when everyone is available to meet.
If you can’t find a good time, or you need to work together from a distance or collaborate on a document with multiple people at once, use Google Drive. This great application has been around for a long time, but I’ve found that many students have never tried it.
Writing and editing reports and presentations online is so much easier than emailing a document back and forth, and you can comment on your group’s work and chat in real time. You can also share folders with photos and other files that you might need for your class work.
If you’ve never tried these Google services, you have no idea what you’re missing, or how much time you’ve wasted emailing half-edited documents to each other. Try the Google Drive mobile app as well – it has less functionality, but it’s still good for last minute edits or presentation practice on-the-go.
Unfortunately, formatting text, objects and photos can be finicky in these Google apps, so instead try writing the content itself online and then download it as a Microsoft Office document to finish formatting. Then, use the Track
Changes feature in office to record your edits and send it to your group members for final approval.
These are only a few of the great resources available to students on the web, as a complete list could fill a book, but hopefully readers will have heard a few new names, or have been reminded of some old haunts, that will make them more effective in class this semester. Then again, it never hurts to remember that you’ve already bought the textbook.