Going back to school or university classrooms after the summer has a bittersweet flavor even for the most passionate of students. We need to find the rhythm: fortunately there technology can help us do that. We have thought of a series of student apps and services which can come in handy while you are walking towards your school. Sometimes just unlocking your smartphone makes school life easier.
Apps and services for students returning to school
Studying without the aid of smartphones and PCs is no longer possible for today’s students. And anyone enrolled in an institution of any order and grade will have already downloaded the‘app for the school book, one to read emails and communications and the one chosen by the class council for videolezioni in DaD. But there are tons of other software tools you can use to help you learn. So here are some digital tips to follow, divided by categories.
App for taking notes
At every school level, teaching is changing. If until a few years ago education was based on the “frontal relationship” with teachers and invited students to lower your head and take notes, today the perspective has changed. There are more effective techniques and teaching aids (books, slides, screens) are often provided directly to students. But this does not mean that don’t take notes anymore. The key phrase, the summary of the explanation, the research ideas need somewhere to go.
Evernote represents the best in terms of simplicity and intuitiveness, especially on smartphones and tablets with Android and iOS. You can organize your notes in a second and start writing what you want to remember. And then you can add multimedia content of all kinds, from photos of the laboratory project to recordings. And everything stays synchronized online, so you can also use it on any computer. Unparalleled convenience.
If, on the other hand, you mainly use the PC to follow the lessons, One Note from Microsoft it is probably already installed and is very easy to use. The graphics are a bit more spartan than Evernote, especially on mobile. But perfect integration with the entire Office package it gives you an obvious advantage if you mainly use computers for your school life. You can also access all your multimedia notes directly from the browser.
If you want to follow the lesson without frantically hitting the keyboard but still prefer to have a transcript of what has been said, you need a dictation software. There are some excellent ones for companies but which are a bit prohibitive for students. If you have the computer at hand, use speechnotes.co. The understanding of Italian in the free version is not perfect but it is more than sufficient for most of the cases.
Alternatively, you can use the dictation function of Google Docs or of Apple. They are not always very precise but should be enough for the eventuality.
Back to school: app for students who take notes by hand
Someone might be more comfortable taking notes by hand. But this does not mean that he then has to spend hours typing what is written on the computer to be able to upload it to the cloud. If you have a beautiful handwriting just take a photograph of the written text. The same is true if your teacher fills the board well (and doesn’t erase it too often). Also One Note ed Evernote allow you to photograph and extrapolate text from handwriting.
But if you want something more precise, you can use Office Lens to scan the document and save it to the cloud. The text extrapolation function theoretically only works for English but does a decent job in Italian too, if you don’t get horrified by looking at some missing double or grammatical error.
If you don’t want to download a dedicated app, let the Office per mobile that Google Drive have the ability to scan the text.
Programs for opening and editing documents
If you often have to open and edit text documents, slides, PDFs and so on, you need an office suite, even if you are in school or college. The great classic in this case is Microsoft Office. And it’s a great classic because it works, better than the others (at least for most users). Try asking the institution where you study if it has any agreements: many colleges and universities offer the subscription to Office 365 for free or discounted.
If you can’t use Office, or if you don’t like it, you can opt for a free alternative. The one that has the most compatibility and functions in our experience is LibreOffice, which really has nothing to envy to anyone, including Microsoft. Or you can use the Google Docs, which you can access from any connected device.
Google’s tools are also great on mobile. But on your smartphone the (free) Microsoft Office app is really handy, which opens all kinds of office documents and PDFs, allowing you to really do everything.
Back to school: apps to organize students’ day and stay focused
Organization is the key to productivity. But why bet everything on self-discipline when there is technology? The first app to manage school commitments (and not), class schedules and online lessons is a good calendar. The options in the various stores are endless, but we recommend going simple. In particular, if you use Gmail and Google applications, bet on Google Calendar. If you are a user Apple, the basic calendar is fine. Closed Outlook to manage emails, he can also use it for appointments.
The second step is to write down what you need to do during the day. Tasks for the little ones, projects for the older ones – everyone needs a to-do list. Our favorite application for doing this is Microsoft To Do, not so much for the many options but for the simplicity with which you can use them. But Todoist it is equally valid.
Finally, if you want to stay focused, you need to eliminate distractions while studying. You already know how to put your smartphone in airplane mode and if you have an iPhone or a Pixel you can use the time-out mode of apps (for example social networks or games). But if you want an extra tool, download to your smartphone Forest. An app that makes a tree grow on your smartphone when you’re not looking at it, while staying focused. The temporal division is based on the “Pomodoro Technique”, which requires you to concentrate for 25 minutes and then rest 5. But you can adjust it as you like, according to your needs.
App for learning, at school or at home
Do you want to continue learning even outside of school? Or are you curious to learn some subject that you never do in class? Nothing can replace the educational relationship with teachers and professors at school, nor can you explain a topic better than a university teacher. But you can still tease your intellect in many ways.
Duolingo has “gamified” foreign language learning, making you have fun while learning. Our advice, if you can, is to take a course with English as their first language, for example the Spanish-English one. This way you review one language while studying another. And you will get many new stories and modes, which are usually first tested on the Anglo-Saxon audience.
To broaden your horizons, you can follow Khan Academy, which deals with a lot of interesting topics in all levels of learning. The math session is particularly accurate but the resources are plentiful. If you want to take courses on YouTube, always pay attention to the sources. For a general smattering (or for students up to high school), i am not bad at all Crash Course.
Dictionaries and translators
In this section we could get lost among the millions of proposals that you can find on the web and among the apps. Instead we limit ourselves to the best and most popular dictionaries:
For translations? Don’t trust too much Google translator. But use it.
App for back to school students: Smartphone calculators
The basic calculator of your smartphone is enough for the simplest calculations. But it would also be enough to remember the multiplication tables and work in the column, in that case. If you want to calculate some cosines and understand how logarithms work, you need a scientific calculator. We appreciate HiPER for Android and Panecal for iOS because they remind us of the calculators they used in high school.
But the real turning point is to write the exercise on the paper or find it in the book and see it solved before your eyes. For this there is Photomath, which also shows the steps so that you can check for errors. Just don’t use it to cheat!
With these applications you should have everything you need to get back to studying great. Good start of the lessons!