How-To: Take on the new semester with technology

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With the beginning of a new year and new semester, many students make academic resolutions, pledging to perform better in school, procrastinate less and become more productive. While that mindset is great and promising for the first few weeks of school, for most students these goals are nothing but a distant memory by the time midterms roll around.

Seeing as tablets and smartphones are common holiday gifts for college students, there’s no reason why these devices shouldn’t be used as tools to get organized and study smarter to reach goals for the new semester. Here are some ways you can use electronics in a productive way this semester (and no, this doesn’t mean catching up on your Facebook feed during that long lecture class).

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There are many options when it comes to organizing your life with your mobile device, and what you use usually comes down to personal preference. Here are some great ways to use your phone or tablet to organize your life this semester:

Reminders: Whether you are Team Android or iPhone, you can use your device’s built-in reminder application or download a different one of your choice. Reminders are a quick and excellent way to jot down all of the tasks that you need to accomplish and there is usually a way to arrange them in order of importance. My favorite is the built-in iPhone reminders app, because it allows you to create different lists, set notifications, rank an entry’s importance, color code, add notes, sync your lists with iCloud and even shows up in your notification center. Regardless of what reminder application fits your needs, this is one of the best ways to quickly and easily organize your to-do list on your mobile device.

Voice Control: If you want to jot down information quickly and on the go, voice control is a great option. With Apple and Android devices both offering their own versions, it can be helpful on many mobile devices. All you have to do is tell your device to enter a due date into your calendar, and it’s done without having to perform additional steps. This is very convenient when you don’t want to forget something, but are in a rush to get to your next class.

Calendar: If you aren’t already using your device’s built-in calendar, you should definitely give it a try. It is convenient because you are able to sync your calendar between devices and set reminders from within the calendar. It’s also a fast way to prevent overlooking an important meeting or event. Even if you prefer the old-fashioned handwritten calendar or agenda (which I do), a mobile calendar definitely has its perks. Since many students carry a smartphone or tablet with them everywhere, it is easy to jot down an event in your device’s calendar and then transfer it to your handwritten calendar when you get home.

Wunderlist: I am an obsessive list-maker, so naturally I have tried just about every list application out there and I’ve finally found a favorite with Wunderlist. It has the ability to create multiple lists that can be shared with others and between devices, whether they are iPhones, Androids, computers or even the application’s website. It’s great for students because you are able to create lists for every class, organization or activity that you may be involved in. The application includes the ability to set due dates, place reminders, include subtasks, write notes within each task, add files to an entry, write comments for shared lists, star important entries and even personalize your lists with different backgrounds.

myHomework: This application is another one of my favorites for school purposes. It offers the ability to enter your class schedule to keep it easily accessible. All homework assignments can be entered in the homework section and can be organized by class, priority and type of assignment. One of my favorite parts about this application is that there is a calendar that lists each class and homework assignment for any selected day. This is a great planning tool for students to keep assignments organized. The myHomework app also gives users the ability to sync between all of their devices, so no matter what you are using, you have access to your homework planner.

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If you are like many students and happen to get sucked into social media while studying, using study applications can be useful in stopping that distraction from happening. It offers students an alternative way to study by using technology to help those who learn more efficiently this way. Here are some great study applications that can be useful for students.

Quizlet: Never handwrite your flashcards again. This helpful program is available online and for mobile devices, and there are countless pre-made flashcard sets and games available to help students study for classes. If your course or textbook is not already offered on the program, you can create your own flashcard sets to study topics for tests with games and activities. This app is helpful because it saves time and paper by being an alternative to handwritten flashcards.

Duolingo: This is an absolute necessity for any student taking a foreign language. It offers programs in Spanish, English, French, German, Portuguese and Italian. The lessons feel like games and students can familiarize themselves with the language they are studying in order to succeed in the class and increase fluency. The app teaches concepts in a different order than a school course will, but by practicing with Duolingo daily, students will grasp the language faster in class.

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It’s important to stay connected to your My ASU, your ASU email account and Blackboard, and these applications make it easy to do so.

ASU Mobile: This has everything an ASU student needs to know: access to My ASU, a campus map, event lists, calendars, student resources and much more. This is definitely something that ASU students should all use.

Blackboard Mobile Learn: The mobile Blackboard application gives students access to their course content, announcements and grades from a mobile device. It is a useful way to stay connected to your classes even when you are not in front of a computer.

With some of these efficient uses of your mobile devices, you can make your academic New Year’s resolutions a reality, instead of stressing out at the end of the semester trying to bring up grades. You might be so busy organizing classwork on a mobile device that you won’t be as tempted to catch up on what your friends are saying on Twitter when you really should be doing something productive.

 

Reach the writer at samantha.stull@asu.edu or on Twitter @Samantha_Stull2.