The school year is in full swing, and shopping for pens, pencils and notebooks is already a memory. In addition to these traditional supplies, many of today's students have another tool - often underutilized - to help them succeed the in classroom: their smartphones and tablets.
"Today's mobile devices can help students by providing everything from a quick dictionary definition to an in-depth math tutorial," says Dillon Rasmussen, dean of education at Everest College - Melrose Park. "There are dozens of apps to help students get organized for the school year, and hundreds more that cover everything from chemistry and calculus to vocabulary and geography."
Rasmussen recommends the following organizational and educational apps to stay ahead of the curve this school year:
"The key to academic success is organization," Rasmussen says, "but keeping track of homework assignments, exam schedules and group meetings is a challenge for many students." Fortunately, a number of apps can help students juggle their busy schedules. Rasmussen recommends apps like iHomework, which helps keep students up-to-date on school work and allows users to insert due dates and set study reminders.
File storage apps are another great way to stay organized, Rasmussen says. Apps like Dropbox allow students to save and store files and documents in one accessible place - which they can access online from any computer or smartphone device - making it perfect for students on-the-go.
"Now that you're organized, it's time to hit the books," Rasmussen says. "However, it's not always convenient to lug your textbooks all over town." Educational apps covering a wide array of academic subjects can help students take advantage of time spent commuting on the bus, waiting in lines, and other periods of downtime.
For instance, the free Khan Academy app has hundreds of video tutorials covering everything from basic science, math and anatomy to art history and economics. In addition, there are several free dictionary and thesaurus apps available, such as Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com mobile - negating the need to carry heavy reference books.
Rasmussen also recommends the Wikipedia Mobile app. Because Wikipedia is an open source, it's not appropriate to use its content for research papers, but in general, it can provide helpful background material for students who may want additional information on subjects covered in class.
For classes that involve vocabulary or memorization, Rasmussen recommends flashcard apps, such as Flashcard Touch. During downtime, students can create and then work their way through a virtual stack of digital cards - helping reinforce subject material and hopefully cut down on study time.
"A smartphone is so much more than just an entertainment device," Rasmussen says. "When used wisely, it can be a major boost to academic success, improving students' time management skills and reinforcing classroom material."