15 for 2015 – Essential e-Learning Tools
A Dozen Essential Apps
Beef up your student’s iPad or tablet with these important apps. They’re free (at the time of publishing) unless otherwise noted.
The beginning of the year is a great time to start with the use of a password manager. Ditch the “secret” notebook! Stop thinking no one can guess that easy-to-remember password you use for everything. With 1Password, you only need to remember one–your vault password. Link everything–your encrypted passwords can be accessed on your OS, iOS, Windows or Android devices. Some versions allow selective sharing of data to family or team members.
Fantastical 2 – ♥Editor’s Pick♥
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the iPad’s native calendar and reminder apps were one force? Well, Fantastical 2 has done it. You just have to decide if the convenience is worth $13. Fantastical 2 has some great features, including–get this–dictation. Yep–you can tell the app about your group study meeting at the State Library on Saturday at 11:00, and it will enter the info into your calendar and set a reminder alarm for you! No typing. Cool! The developer’s website describes lots of other features.
Here’s a task manager to help students get work done. Enter tasks and a length of time for each. Start the timer, and you’re off. 30/30 tells you when to move on to the next task. Especially good for hard-workers who get bogged down in finessing their work.
A great app for exam prep. Studyblue lets you make and shuffle flashcards and more. Students can share decks of flashcards to increase the fun and challenge.
Evernote is one of e-Quipped’s old faves. It gives students a way to organise notes by subject. You can even add the web-clipper and save web pages directly to a selected notebook. It can be synced across devices and platforms. This one’s a game-changer.
Create, edit, and send MS Word-compatible documents on your iPad without the formatting bungles that often happen when moving a document between Apple’s Pages software and Microsoft’s Word software. Sporting a clean user-interface, WPS Office works for PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets, too! It’s hard to believe it’s free.
Dictionary.com & Thesaurus.com ($3.50 for the latter)
Learning NOT to rely on spell-check is a critical 21st century skill. These reference book apps are handy for homework.
Dropbox or Google Docs Apps
No more blaming the dog’s appetite for lost homework. Saving to the cloud is a good habit for students. Both services allow students the option to collaborate–a useful feature in today’s classroom.
A fun language learning app. It may not sync with your student’s classroom language lessons, so Duolingo is probably better as a review tool than as a companion. It offers a slew of European languages in a fun, progressive way. It will “listen” to your pronunciation and send you reminders to keep practising. Another app that is amazingly free!
EasyBib for iPad
Research papers are hard work, and getting the bibliography right is tricky. EasyBib helps. Students scan in or enter the titles of their sources, and the app does the formatting. The student just has to know which format is required. It offers MLA, APA, and Chicago style.
Find My iPad (iPhone or Mac)
Got a head-in-the-clouds kid? Find My iPad is a must-have for the loss-prone student. A misplaced device can be located on a map using GPS. It can be remotely locked, display a message such as a phone number, or–if it’s been stolen–wiped of all data. You can even make it play a sound for two minutes at full volume so you can hear it. I wish I could make my keys do that! Don’t forget to enable it in iCloud settings.
A Trio of Web Tools
The first two can be used on an iPad or a laptop, but the third is only for Windows or Mac computers.
Here’s a fantastic web tool to help students hone their study skills. ExamTime shows learners how to create and incorporate study planners, mindmaps, flashcards, and quizzes into your study regimen.
Infographics are practical way to visually display or summarise information, and they make your projects or papers look fantastic. Create your own stunning infographics on Easel.ly. Gratifying and fun! The infographic at the top of the post was created by Yours Truly. Admittedly, it’s nothing spectacular, but not bad for a first attempt. It takes about (ahem) four hours of “playing around” to get the hang of it, but it’s easy once you figure out which rope to pull.
If digital distraction is hindering study, Freedom ($10 for Mac and PC) might help. It “locks away” the Net and all its insidious distractions for up to 8 hours.
Over to You
What are your essential e-learning tools? Share any must-have apps in the comments! Happy New Year!
NB: Check with your child’s school before purchasing educational apps. This list is not intended to indicate any school’s requirements.