My top 5 learning tools

Being a writer, scatter-brain and serial list maker, it is safe to say that I need as many tools to help organise my study life as possible. However, I don’t doubt for a moment that these technological treats are universally applicable, and will certainly prove to be nifty little angels in your lives too… By Lillie Almond

Bring on the round-up of my most useful free apps:

1. Google Scholar

The best. If you need to hit up a journal, this tool allows you access to an uncountable amount of scholars and articles that you both do and do not know. I use Scholar to branch out my research efficiently- it brings me closer to sources I would never initially think to utilise. Further, the tool is fairly academically reliable and easy to cite, and accessible via any computer that has access to Google.

Rating: I don’t know how to fault it, so I give Scholar a 5/5 for usefulness.

2. Twitter

Despite being known mostly for social purposes, this is a great way to tap into newsfeeds of mainstream and lesser-known journalism, keeping you up to date with what’s going on in easy one-liners. Accessible online and via your smartphone, Twitter is also a great way to communicate with those whom you are unable to physically access. I use it for getting quick quotes from writers, and for finding out about their opinions regarding things I am studying.

Rating: Because it doesn’t guarantee replies and isn’t reliable to cite in essays however, I give Twitter an overall 3.5/5 for usefulness.

3. TED Talks

Touch and go, TED talks are a large stimulus for digression. Accessible online, via YouTube and other online streaming portals, these talks vary in specialities in pretty much every field imaginable. The talks are academically profound, and, if applicable to your subject matter, frequently provide alternative insight into topics that you have become overfamiliar with. I use them to brainstorm new ideas about things that have become stale in my mind, which is beneficial in sourcing alternative viewpoints, but challenging in maintaining focus on my subject topic. The phone app means that you can fill long coach journeys with constructive talks, also giving you something handy to make notes on when books aren’t around, so depending on how good you are at finding the right talk, these can be profusely useful.

My advice, because of the wide variety of material pitched by TED, is to look at the reviews and comments before investing yourself in a 43 minute video about the morality behind the meaning of art…

Rating: Useful in many respects, academically and for rounded knowledge: 4/5.

4. Facebook

Also, primarily known as a social tool, Facebook is fantastic for helping out with studies. Implement self-discipline when using it, by turning off chat, and you are able to share notes with peers, to research societal/ communal knowledge about current affairs, and of course chat about your work. However, distraction is almost inevitable, and Facebook doesn’t have the greatest reliability. However, it is accessible via any internet-using device, meaning that you can use it to find out where and when that lecture that you forgot to scribble down is. I’m not going to lie- I use Facebook to network.

Rating: Very much a marmite-style loathe or love tool, I give Facebook a 3/5 for study purposes, and a 4.5/5 as a general life utility.

5. OneDrive

Because of OneDrive’s ability to sync and share files in a professional manner, it is very useful for study purposes. It is accessible via Hotmail, best used through a computer, but I don’t find the interface very user-friendly. Harder to put to use on a mobile device, it is not the most portable tool, but does allow editing of documents online, which is handy when you need all of your work to be in the cloud. I use this to ping work to and from my tutors, organising separate assignments and their notes in designated files.

Rating: Tidy OneDrive: tidy mind. 4/5.

There are a bunch of other online and downloadable tools to help you organise and structure your studies- some more useful than others depending on your subject. This is fairly writing focussed a round-up, so we would love to hear how you use some other tools- or just alternative uses to the ones that I’ve mentioned here- post below and let us know!


Image: Allen Wrenches/Russ Morris/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

[This is repost from our Study Blog archives – lots of great posts which are still relevant!]

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