Back to School: 15 Essential Web Tools for Students
September 6, 2009
Date: 4 September 2009 4:22:34 AM GMT+05:30Subject: Back to School: 15 Essential Web Tools for StudentsSource: Mashable!Author: Josh Catone
For much of the world, it’s that special time of the year when students head back to school. The good news for students is that even though that means waking up early and doing homework, there are a number of web-based and social tools to help you get through the school year. From staying organized to improving study habits to making sure you reference your research sources properly, the web can help you be a better student.
We’ve assembled a list of 15 of the best applications available for students. What other applications are helping you at school this year? Let us know in the comments!
The first thing you need to do in order to have a successful school year, is develop a plan to stay organized. If you’re constantly missing due dates or losing track of your notes, you’ll find yourself in a deep hole rather quickly. The following web applications can help you get organized and stay organized.
1. Evernote – Evernote is one of the best note taking applications available, allowing you to sync notes between the web, your phone, and any computer. With Evernote you can save text, audio, and images (like screenshots, entire webpages, or photos taken with your camera phone), and everything — even the images — is searchable, so you’ll never lose track of your notes. One of the ways Evernote really excels is in the number of different methods you can use to add notes to the application, which include via the web, mobile apps, email, or even Twitter.
2. Notely – Notely is a complete, end-to-end solution for taking notes and staying organized. With a course and assignment calendar, note-taking tools, and to-do list, Notely can keep you on top of your schoolwork and assure that you never miss a due date.
3. GradeMate – GradeMate is a free online organizer made with students in mind. With it you can create to-do lists, manage due dates, keep track of grades, and even collaborate with fellow students.
4. Backpack – Initially designed for business users, Backpack is also a great way for students to keep research organized. Backpack is sort of like a single page wiki that lets you keep files, images, notes, and to-do lists in a single place and share them with fellow students (which is great for collaborative projects).
When you sit down to study, you want to arm yourself with the best web tools available to make sure you get the most of your study time. By utilizing the tools listed in this section, you can get more done, and do it more quickly, so that you can have more time for fun and still be prepared for that upcoming test or paper.
5. StudyRails – StudyRails is perfect for those who have trouble blocking out distractions when it comes time to study. The site lets users schedule study time and alerts them (by text message) when it is time to drop everything and hit the books. But where StudyRails really becomes important for chronic procrastinators is that it can be set to block out your favorite web sites and computer applications during scheduled study time. That way you won’t be tempted by Twitter or World of Warcraft when you’ve set aside some time specifically to write a paper.
6. Diigo – When you’re reading books for class, you probably use a highlighter and sticky notes to mark off the passages that are of particular note to what you’re studying. But what do you do on the web? Diigo is a web-based highlighter and sticky note system that lets you annotate your web research. You can also share your work with classmates.
7. Delicious – Delicious is the quintessential bookmarking application on the Internet. If all you want to do is collect all the web resources you’re using for a class, project, or paper under a single tag, Delicious is one of the best and easiest to use tools you can utilize.
8. Mindmeister – There is a slight learning curve involved, but once you get use to them, one of the best ways to organize your thoughts and research is through mind maps. And one of the best online mind mapping tools is Mindmeister, which lets you both easily create mind maps, and also collaborate on them with your classmates. They offer special discounted academic pricing for students.
Work and Collaborate
Web-based and social tools can also help you to actually get your work done and collaborate with others in your class on group projects. From word processing to presentations, the apps in this category will help you turn in complete and polished work.
9. Google Docs – Google Docs is one of the best online word processing and spreadsheets applications available, and it offers great collaboration features that allow you to work together on group assignments. In fact, we use it often here at Mashable to keep track of who is working on what and collaborate on posts and projects. The two main advantages of using Google Docs over more feature-rich applications like Microsoft Word (which is also a great application that I use on a daily basis) is that Google’s offering is free and, more importantly, you can access your files from anywhere. Also check out Adobe’s Buzzword.
10. EtherPad – EtherPad takes collaborating on written documents to a completely new level by allowing a group of people to edit a document at the same time and actually see what everyone else is writing as they write it. When used by multiple people meeting in person or combined with a VoIP app like Skype, EtherPad can be an amazing collaboration tool for group studying or hashing out who is doing what on a group project.
11. Sliderocket – It would be hard to get through your school career without having to give a presentation, and one way to make your presentation more memorable is with a great set of slides. SlideRocket is an awesome online presentation building tool that lets you create beautiful, multimedia rich presentations, that are accessible from anywhere. Also check out Empressr.
12. WikiDot – If you’re working in a group project, you’ll want to keep everyone on the same page, and one of the best ways to organize your thoughts as a group is by using a wiki. WikiDot is a great, simple, wiki hosting solution that students can utilize to create an unlimited number of wiki pages to organize their projects and group research.
Now that you’ve got your work in order, you’ll want to make sure you have everything properly cited, because like clichés, accusations of plagiarism are something you should avoid like the plague. The tools below will help you to keep track of your sources and cite them properly when the time comes.
13. CiteMe – This Facebook application from the Online Computer Library Center lets you search the world’s largest library catalog by title, author, subject, or ISBN and get properly formatted citations in APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA, or Turabian style.
14. EasyBib – EasyBib is one of the most popular online bibliographic tools, letting you automatically create citations in APA, Chicago/Turabian, and MLA styles. Over 218 million citations have been generated using the site since 2001. Also check out Ottobib.
15. Zotero – If you need to cite your work in a more obscure style, then check out Zotero. This Firefox extension automatically collects your research sources and then lets you create citations in any of one of over a thousand different styles. Zotero also lets you take notes on your sources and is available in over 30 different languages.
Image courtesy of Flickr user wheany
Reviews: Delicious, Diigo, EtherPad, Evernote, Flickr, Google, Google Docs, Mashable, Skype, Twitter
Tags: back to school, Backpack, citeme, delicious, diigo, easybib, etherpad, evernote, google docs, grademate, MindMeister, Notely, school, SlideRocket, students, studyrails, web apps, wikidot, zotero