How to Be a Productive Student Using Online Tools

How to Be a Productive Student Using Online Tools

Reading books and taking notes in class is the way almost all students learn and while you may be happy with your study method, being aware of ways that can help you fully engage with the subject you are learning and understand more in less time is beneficial. With the advancement of technology in all areas of life and the widespread use of portable devices and the internet, the pen and paper style feels a little “old-school” so why not mix the two methods and use “new-school” techniques, like your smartphone and online tools to help you study more efficiently.

We are using technology more and more, so it’s only logical to take your studying to the web – using mobile and online tools. As a student we understand that you’re strapped for cash, already paying for tuition, books and study material, so having the latest technology tools at your disposal without paying anything extra is definitely beneficial.

Research the easy way

Zotero is a free, easy to use tool for all your study and research needs right in your browser with no download needed. With Zotero you can save anything you need for your research and organize them effortlessly. It will collect full websites, images, PDFs, videos and sound clips you have found or recorder all in one place so you can easily find them anytime you need to cite your paper.

Citation is a big and important part to writing the perfect paper, so instead of wasting time looking for all the websites and articles or library books one by one, let this tool do all the work for you and focus on your writing. Zotero also supports thousand of citation styles and publication formats, so whether you are writing a paper in psychology this tool will help you cite in the APA style, or if you are writing a term on biology or nature it will prepare you document in a format and citation style for the appropriate publication.

Zotero can be used from any computer or laptop, you only have to install the extension for Firefox or the standalone client for the browser of your choice and after you finish writing you paper all the citations will inserted into the document you are working in with a click of a button. The best part is that all your documents will be available online and you will be able to access them on any computer.

Learn German (or other languages)

You want to learn German, but either time spent studying doesn’t permit you or you find it hard to find a language partner in your area. Now this where Livemocha comes in handy. It is a website that let’s you learn a new language (not just German), from anywhere you are. You just need access to a computer with internet connection and you are ready to learn or get better at speaking German. You can go to courses, learn the grammar rules or read books in German, but nothing beats real life practice, and that’s why to truly master a new language you must practice it daily and speak with a partner. But a partner is not easy to find while you are all busy studying or have other obligations.

Livemocha has established itself as an excellent alternative to face-to-face tutoring, where you can watch videos and listen to natives speak German, so you can master the language easier and gain confidence. After you are done with watching a real life scenario –  such as ordering a coffee or asking for directions –  the next tutorial will be a breakup of the grammar and sentence construction, and finally you will practice all the components and get feedback from your tutor that is a native speaker.

Study for exams the smart way

Exam time’s free mind map software is perfect for connecting the dots. If you have trouble understanding the course material, just re-reading may not help you, so look for other solutions to problems. Mind mapping gives you the freedom and options to express ideas and information in a very beautiful and easy way. Whether you’re brainstorming ideas with friends or mind mapping the life and work of Beethoven, having the information displayed in such a unique way allows you to make connections you never thought were possible.

The benefits of using mind maps are well documented. They especially appeal to those of us who learn visually but studies have shown that we all benefit from approaching information from different viewpoints. Mind maps are also perfect for planning. You can use them to plan any essay, presentations or assignments. The great thing about using mind maps is that you delve deep into an area of study as much as you need and make connections in new things that will give you a new point of view.

Alongside having a unique way of presenting online mind maps, Exam time also allows you to attach flash cards and notes to any part of your mind map. You can also add snippets which you can fill with notes, pictures or links to any other resource which you feel helps your studying. You can also share your online mind map with your peers and print it when needed.

Take courses online for free

A great thing about online courses is that no matter at what stage of your student life you are you can deepen your knowledge on the courses you study or use the online study material for free as an addition to get better at your most important courses. It’s understandable that you already have enough to study and might be a little overwhelmed, but getting to a course or chapter of the course from a different angle, explained by somebody else in a different way and setting will give you new insights and new ideas to approach studying for the exam.

Some of the best online courses are offered for free, be it independent organization (like khanacademy) or a repository of courses offered by the best Universities in the world (such as coursera) including German ones. Learning is a life-long process, it doesn’t end when we finish a mid-semester quiz or write that final paper, and as soon you realize this you will have an easier time to study for new stuff, be it things for your curse or what you really like that isn’t offered by the university where you study.

A search for you favorite course will yield enough result to sites such as MIT or BBC learning page enough to keep you busy and satisfy all of your curiosity and quest for knowledge.

 

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About the author

I'm Juliane from New York, US. I studied Journalism at Emerson College and now I'm student a blogger at Studyblog.org sharing my travel and study abroad experience.

View all articles by Juliane A. Rhea