Technology’s meant to make your life easier but it can be extremely stressful. You can’t open a research file, because it's in the wrong format. An essay you spent day working on didn’t save properly. That important email you sent keeps being bounced back; it’s easy to forget that technology is meant to be a tool.
From recording boring lectures, to keeping you on track and focused, there are thousands of apps out there to help make your course as painless as possible. Here's five of my favourite apps to make studying easier.
On the surface, it’s the same as any old note-taking app, but what makes Evernote stand out is the ability to synch and transfer notes over to any device. It’s perfect for the students who work from desktops (or the one the ones who forgot their laptop). You can type up all your notes on your phone, and find them ready and waiting for you on your other device when you get back from your lecture.
For those that prefer to write out their notes by hand, Evernote allows you to take a photo of your notebook, and, provided the handwriting is eligible, you will be able to search through these notes just as you would a typed up one. Evernote is highly customisable, so you’ll be able to differentiate depending on your module, and best of all, Evernote lets you easily share notes documents with other users, ideal in case you need to catch up on a missed lecture.
Soundnote is another note taking app, except it’s a little different. While Evernote’s got you covered when you’re at your most focused, Soundnote is there for those lecturers where you might find yourself nodding off. The actual note-taking feature of the app is quite basic, but the key function of the app is that it records what it hears in the background. The app then syncs your written words up with the audio, creating a searchable document.
It’s impossible to write down everything your lecture is saying, and sometimes you can miss out on something important. Soundnote solves this, just click on a word in the document, and the app will jump to the part of the recording where the relevant discussion was taking place.
You’ve probably made an abundance of abandoned to-do lists since joining University, but with Any.Do, you’ll start making lists that stick. Like Evernote, any.do synchs any lists created to all of your devices, so you no longer have to worry about keeping that post-it on your wall any longer. The simplicity here is the key, it breaks down your tasks and makes them all seem manageable, and there’s certain satisfaction to be had in swiping away that task that has been bothering you for so long.
Taking advantage of the new iOS widget update, Any.Do is able to create an icon with your to-do lists on your home scream, so you won’t have to go digging deep through your apps to find what you need.
This is one for the serial procrastinators, and for the tree-lovers; Forest is all about focus. While the work you’ll be doing will actually be away from the app, Forest is all about motivating you to get things done. Simply turn on the app and place it aside as you type up on a computer, write up some notes or listen to a lecture, and in the meantime Forest will start growing ‘digital trees’. While it may seem like a simple game, seeing your own ‘forest’ develop is incredibly addicting - eventually you’ll be wanting a study session just to grow a few more trees. Begin using your phone while the app is on, and your trees will start to wither and die. Who said studying wasn’t fun?…
Not to mention, the best part of the app is that every time a user spends digital currency, Forest themselves will donate to their partners ‘Trees of the Future’, funding the planting of real trees. They’re up to 926,567 trees planted right now - get studying to help them reach a million!
Like Forest, Quizlet is another app that attempts to make studying fun add rewarding. At it’s core, Quizlet is a ‘flashcard’ app, but it’s the special features on top of this that make it essential to your studies. It can handle uploads of images, diagrams, various languages, even audio uploads. Sick of the flashcard mode? You can mix up your study routine with other modes on their app, including scatter, speller, learn, test, and space race.
Like similar apps mentioned here already, another benefit in using quizlet is the ability it gives in creating and sharing guides with other users. Some lecturers have even begun using the app in the classroom, and thanks to the wide-range of platforms that Quizlet is available on, it works seamlessly with classroom learning. Whether you’re using it alone, in study groups or in lessons, Quizlet is the perfect application to enhance your academic work.
By Matthew Healey, freelance writer, and recent masters graduate from the University of Arts London.