Top 7 Online Tools Students Should Use

Students now have it so much easier than those that were in school 12+ years ago. Technology has made it so much easier to do online research, stay organized, keep up with deadlines, collaborate with classmates and have online discussions; even 1st graders get to have iPads in the classroom. It’s only inevitable that soon laptops or tablets will be a part of the required school supplies for most grade levels.

With the advancement in technology also comes an abundance of online tools and services for students. The top-notch tools listed below will help any student whether in grade school or college. Let’s take a look at the top 7 online tools students should use.


Notely

Notely is a great time management tool that helps students stay organized with notes, to-do lists and a course and assignment calculator. It’s great for those who need help keeping track of assignments and due dates. Each time you login you’ll get to see which deadlines are approaching. With the calendar, schedule builder and homework planner students can take control of their hectic lives and make time for studying and assignments. The Word-like note taking interface doubles as an online word processor with formatting options that are very similar to Google Docs.


Backpack

Backpack is just what the name insinuates: it acts as a backpack that holds all of your documents, files, images, notes, calendars and to-do lists in a single location. If you do a lot of research, Backpack will help you keep it all organized and allows for easy collaboration with classmates through discussions.

Backpage Pages are great for group projects and are used to “add any combination of notes, to-dos, files, photos, and dividers to a page.” They contain everything you need to keep up with deadlines, delegate tasks and communicate with group members via an internal messaging system. If you’re forgetful, simply setup an alarm and you’ll be able to receive reminder alerts. While Backpack is not free, it does come with a 30-day free trial; the cheapest plan is $49/month.


Diigo

Just like when reading a book many people like to highlight the important words and add notes in the margins; you can now do that on the Web as well with Diigo. It’s the perfect online research and article reading companion because it lets you annotate Web pages via highlighting and sticky notes. You can then share those notes and highlights with classmates. Best of all, whenever you return to a page that you’ve annotated you’ll see that your highlights and notes are still there. They offer numerous browser tools (for adding annotations) and currently have apps for both the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad (for viewing annotations) on the go.


MindMeister

MindMeister is the ultimate mind mapping and real-time brainstorming tool. Mind mapping is great for planning projects and organizing thoughts and research data. You can share and collaborate with other classmates on the Web, via SMS and email, or on your iOS mobile device. While they do offer a free account, it is very limited; however their academic pricing is very affordable. You can get a full years access for only $18. Their offline mode, makes it even more valuable since you don’t always need an Internet connection to work on your maps.


Sliderocket

If you’re familiar with Google Docs, you know that they allow you to create presentations online which can then be accessed from anywhere. Well, Sliderocket goes above and beyond with their online presentation building tool. It’s like having Microsoft PowerPoint right inside your browser, so much that you can even import your PowerPoint presentations using their importer.

Sliderocket lets you create beautiful, memorable slide shows with rich multimedia like audio, images and videos. Since it’s an online tool you’ll be able to access your presentations from anywhere, plus you can collaborate with classmates. It also includes powerful analytics for analyzing traffic and views for your presentations.


CiteMe

This is a simple, easy-to-use Facebook application that lets you get formatted citations in APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA and Turabian formats. You start by searching for a source by title, author, subject or ISBN. You’ll then get the properly formatted citation that you can use for research papers, footnotes and bibliographies. Results are taken from the world’s largest network of library content and services.


Zotero

Zotero is an awesome Firefox extension that helps you “collect, organize, cite and share your research sources.” While you’re doing research you can add sources in just one click and Zotero will automatically create citations for you in your desired format. You can later add notes and organize your sources via drag and drop. The Microsoft Word and OpenOffice integration lets you drag and drop properly formatted sources right into your documents. Your data can also be synced between computers so that you can access it from anywhere (even mobile devices). Lastly, you can share and collaborate with classmates for group projects.


Now that students have tools like these to help boost their productivity, you can see that the abundance of online tools for students also removes the need for excuses. With the ability to keep track of class schedules and due dates as well as collaborate and share with other classmates, there is really no room for excuses due forgetfulness and laziness. These tools are sure to help any student be the best their can be.

This was a post by Lior Levin who works for an MA in political science program in the tel aviv university and also for the MA in security program.

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