As we approach the holidays and end of the traditional academic semester, final exams, projects, and other course commitments are coming due.
Whether you prefer to study on your own or as part of a group, there are mobile apps to support your learning efforts via computer, tablet, and smartphone.
What makes these apps “Top” apps?
This post is the second in a series featuring helpful apps for online students (see the first entry on mobile note-taking). My goal with each of these articles is to narrow down the ever-growing number of mobile apps designed to help you succeed in your online courses. For this post, I looked for a few affordable options that specifically feature academic content and study-oriented tasks. The following guidelines framed my search:
- Free vs. Paid: You can try each one of these apps for yourself with a basic account at no (or low) cost.
- Cross-platform: Each one works on more than one type of device (i.e., Android, Blackberry, iOS, Web, Windows).
- Recommendations: These apps all have good ratings or reviews from other students who have already put them through their paces.
6 Top Study Apps
Whether you commute to work or have upcoming travel plans, chances are that there is time in your schedule that could be used for your classes. According to research from StudyBlue.com (more on the StudyBlue app below), “students with smartphones are twice as likely to study between 6:00 and 8:00 am” and “mobile studiers study 40 more minutes each week by studying everywhere they go.”
There’s no arguing the convenience mobile devices provide, and there are applications available to help you make effective and efficient use of this convenience for school purposes. Think about how you might access tools and information on the go to:
- Prepare for weekly tests and final exams.
- Reinforce important ideas presented in your course materials.
- Review difficult concepts with additional reading, resources, and demonstrations.
If you are looking for ways to streamline your study efforts, the following apps each provide a good starting point:
- InstaGrok: Sometimes another explanation, or type of presentation, can help you understand a complex concept. InstaGrok allows you to explore topics of your choice through interactive, visual concept maps, which include key facts and terms, videos and images, and links to relevant resources. You’ll find opportunities to sharpen your research skills with this tool as well. [Android, iOS, Web]
- OpenStudy: This online community allows students studying similar topics to meet online. You can both post questions for your peers at other schools to answer, and assist those students with their questions, which are categorized by subject or “study group.” A mobile app launched earlier this year allows members of the network to access this study space from their tablets and smartphones. [iOS, Web]
- Pocket: As you scroll through social media updates and browse the Internet during a search, you probably discover items you want to save and go back to at some point. This app offers an alternative to bookmarking, allowing you to save links from your browser or through other accounts like Twitter and Feedly, to a central location. Access all the items in your “pocket” at a later date. [Android, iOS, Web]
- Quizlet: Choose from among existing flashcard sets or create your own, which you can also access offline. This app features interactive tests and games to make studying a little more fun. A variety of additional “study mode” options are available, which include audio capabilities. [Android, iOS, Web]
- StudyBlue: Create your own multimedia flashcards or use those already available for a range of traditional academic subjects, such as art, business, history, math, law and more. Also look for test prep (e.g., SAT, GRE, GMAT) and foreign language collections. Additional features include review sheets, quizzes, and score tracking. [Android, iOS, Web]
- Vocabulary.com: This app uses a multiple choice quiz format that adapts to your skill level based on previous responses. With each question you can choose to view several “hints,” and the system offers engaging feedback for correct and incorrect answers. It also charts your progress. This one was a little addictive for me once I got started with a few quick quizzes, and offered a solid challenge of my vocabulary skills. This is another good resource for entrance exam test prep. [iOS, Web]
Selecting a Study App
The apps I featured above are just a few of the many options available out there. Selecting one (or two) that work best for you should include careful consideration of the following:
- Source: Just about anyone can develop an app and offer it online these days. Who is providing all of this study information? Is it a credible source? Take a few minutes to review the “about” information posted with any application you are considering, especially for products that already include notes and review materials.
- Social: Social features let you share your study experience and even compete with friends as you complete quizzes and track progress. Some apps also allow you to tweet or post your progress through your social media accounts. If you are studying with a small group in your online course, having these social options can be another helpful way to connect.
- Synching: If you alternate between your smartphone, laptop, and tablet during the day, being able to access your study materials through all of these devices can save a lot of time and frustration. Look for apps that “synch” your work, allowing you to jump back in where you left off and access all content no matter when and where you log in.
- Sign up: “Free” in the world of mobile apps usually means you won’t have to pay a fee to download and use them, however, you may be asked to provide information about yourself when you register for an account. While this isn’t unusual you should be aware of the details you share, such as your email address, and how you connect, such as through your Twitter or Facebook log in, and choose your passwords carefully.
Make a list of must-have features that would help you in your courses, with the understanding that your priorities may be different than your classmates’ priorities. Download and test several apps to see which one has the most appealing look and feel, and meets your needs. The goal is to find something that is both useful and easy to use, so that it becomes part of your regular study routine.
Have you tried any of these study apps? Let us know which ones have been the most helpful in your classes.
Image credit: johanl, Flickr, CC: BY
Source: Inside Online Learning Blog