It’s only been 5 years since I graduated with my Masters, but so much about being a student has changed! Before, I hand-wrote all my class notes and made sure to carry by $80 flash drive with…what?…8 MB of memory from my apartment computer to the school computer.
During my undergraduate to graduate years, we were just getting into email and starting to move everything from a paper process to a digital process. Need a transcript? You can make a phone call, stand in line, or send a fax. Now it happens with a click of the button. Need to register for class? Do it by hand and submit a form (though make sure to make a copy in case it gets lost…). Now, my own individual registration will be open online on November 8th at precisely 11:15 am.
As I’ve transitioned back to being a student, I’ve had fun exploring how to use technology and apps to facilitate and enhance my student experience. Here’s what I’ve found so far that has worked really well–my top 7 favorite apps and tech toys for students:
- 1Password. Everything needs a password these days and this app is where I store all mine. Before this year, I only used it for storage, since I saved many of my passwords on my internet browser. But using school computers is different–I can’t save my passwords on those computer. Thus, this app has been a life-saver for me. Price: $-$$ (depending on device and features)
- Evernote. I can’t believe it took me so long to find this fabulous app! With all the balls I juggle–work, housecare, family, and school–Evernote is how I keep it all organized. I have notebooks set up for each facet of my life and notes organized with each notebook for certain projects and brainstorming sessions. Plus I can capture and store video and pictures on there, too! Evernote keeps me from having to store vast quantities of information in my head and it gives me the peace of mind and open head space to know that everything is recorded and stored. Price: Free
- iPad 2/iPhone 4. Need to take notes? An iPad can do that. Need to shoot a short video clip of a student’s music therapy intervention? An iPhone can do that. Need to access my grocery list on Evernotes lists? Done and done…on both devices. I can’t tell you how much I rely on my iPad and iPhone for almost every facet of my work and personal life. A bit pricey? Yes…but worth every single penny. Price: $$$$-$$$$$
- Keyboard Dock for iPad. Let’s be realistic…an iPad is a pain to type on if you have anything more than a short sentence to write out. Thus, this dock and keyboard have been just fabulous! It worked perfectly the first time, it keeps my iPad upright, and works just like a regular keyboard–a necessity for taking notes. There is one down-side: it’s a bit of a hassle to carry because of it’s shape. Price: $$
- Dropbox. Dropbox may be one of my favorite things. Ever. It has completely eliminated my need for a flash drive that can get lost. Files I store in my Dropbox folder on my laptop can be accessed on any computer with an internet connection (say…a school computer for printing?). Plus, if working on a group project, you can share a Dropbox folder with your group members, allowing everyone in the group to access the files in that folder for editing, adding content, etc. No need to email documents back and forth. Price: Free
- MobileMe–iDisk and Gallery. I know this is changing, soon, to the iCloud…but I’ve gotta say that I’ve gotten a TON of use out of my MobileMe iDisk and Gallery this fall. I store all my class notes on iDisk–I type them up on my iPad, then in a few clicks share them to my iDisk account, and later access them on my laptop. Easy-peasy. And remember the student video clips I mentioned earlier? With a few clicks I have uploaded them to my MobileMe account. Then when online, I transfer the videos to a special, private MobileMe web page and share that link with the students. They are able to not only view their videos, but can download the media file as well. Price: $$$
- Pages app. Although many apps are free, this little guy is worth every penny. This app is what allows me to take notes during class and during my GTA lab classes. Though it’s not necessarily as fancy or exciting as some of the other apps I’ve mentioned…it’s highly functional and I use it every day. (I can’t wait to download the Keynotes app and try it out at our upcoming AMTA conference…). Price: $
So those are some of my favorite apps and tech toys for school…what do YOU recommend?