14th October 2016
Hey guys! I’ve come to accept that the academic year has officially recommenced, and there’s no going back from here. We’re in this one for the long run now, gang. With this in mind, today I thought I’d share my top ten apps for education, which definitely makes revising, learning and organising ten times easier. If, like me, you start to feel withdrawal symptoms from being away for your phone for too long, then I’m sure you’ve always got it close by. That’s the beauty of these apps; they’re always just a ‘slide to unlock’ away. (Update: I’ve just remembered that iOS10 has removed the ‘slide to unlock’ iPhone feature, but “hold your finger on the home button four times before it finally unlocks” just doesn’t have the same ring to it). As silly as I’m sure this sounds, I’ve genuinely found that using my phone for academic purposes has actually improved my productivity considerably – you just need to APPly yourself and APPreciate everything that your phone has to offer. So, without further ado, here are my top ten apps for education – ‘APPy days! God, these puns are APPalling. I’ve got it out of my system now, sorry.
1. The Homework App
Let me start with my favourite of all: The Homework App. This app is a game changer, allowing you to keep track of homework, deadlines and assignments all in one place… on your phone! Just enter in the details of any task and set a reminder date for when you want to complete it, and swipe it when you’re done! This is the perfect way to keep on top of everything and see all of your away deadlines one place, without having to carry around a large academic diary. There’s also features which allow you to make sub-tasks, add teachers, set up your timetable and make notes. Once you go Homework App, you never go back.
Flashcards is a revision essential, which does pretty much what it says on the tin: you make flashcards. With this app, you can create as many sets of revision flashcards as you like, which are perfect for remembering key widgets of data, from facts and figures to statistics, or even mini-essay plans. So why not just make flashcards the old-fashioned way using paper and some pens? I’ll tell you why. Having your flashcards stored on your phone is quicker, less fiddly, safer and easier to do on the go. Whenever you have a free moment, just whip out your phone and slide through a few flashcards, and incorporate revision into your lifestyle! This was particularly good for History revision when trying to remember key dates and facts!
Similar to flashcards, here you can make sets of key information and then, well, be quizzed on them. I love this app for similar reasons; it can be used on-the-go and can help to incorporate revision into your lifestyle. This app offers more variation in terms of the way you can revise, and is particularly good for languages. I am currently studying for a bonus GCSE in Latin alongside my A Levels, and swear by this app to help me learn vocabulary on a weekly basis. Another perk is that you can share sets you make with your friends and classmates, so you can share resources to save time!
I don’t know about you, but Podcasts was always one of those apps on my phone which I kept simply because my phone wouldn’t let me delete it. Then, when revising for my AS exams, I discovered something beautiful; I actually opened the app. Podcasts is home to thousands of audio recordings on every topic you could ever imagine (possibly an exaggeration). Podcasts put things into human terms, and it’s sometimes nice to just sit back and listen to someone teach you and share their opinions. I always think that the more ways you can hear something explained, the more likely it is to finally sink in, and this app does just that! It’s also a different way of learning, which can solve the monotony of always learning from a textbook.
Similarly, I’d never really paid iBooks too much attention. That was, however, until I realised that you could download articles and specifications online and save them to your phone. This way, you can always have your specification to hand, so you know what to revise, or read scholarly articles on the go. Again, this saves you having to carry around your exam specifications, because, honestly, how often do you leave the house with a paper copy in your bag? Probably not very often.
When revision gets a bit too much, a bit of retail therapy is just what you need. Being a student does have some perks, and UNiDAYS is there to provide you with amazing discounts exclusively for students, which can be used both online and in-store. Participating stores include Topshop, Urban Outfitters, Apple, Spotify and McDonald’s among others. The app is free to use and will entitle you to use your discount if you have an academic email address, as well as serving as your student ID in participating stores. Sign up here!
Back to learning now, and this app is the holy grail of foreign languages. It has a smooth interface and is incredibly easy to use, allowing you to set daily targets to motivate you to carry on, and compete with friends. The app slowly progresses your language skills in every aspect, focusing on reading, listening, writing and speaking skills, and you’ll see drastic improvements in no time at all. I used this app to vastly improve my Spanish while I studied it for my GCSEs and was not disappointed!
This is a more recent discovery of mine, and is particularly useful for higher education, as well as A Level coursework and Extended Project Qualifications. Basically, the app can reduce your workload considerably by producing bibliographies for you. All you have to do is type in the link to an article, the ISBN number or scan the barcode of a source you’d like to reference, and – hey presto! – watch the app sort out your essay’s citations so you don’t have to! The app works for pretty much any referencing-style you're using too! This is the perfect way to keep track of all of your essential sources, without having to sort out the nitty-gritty boring details.
If you’ve got a massive to-do list for the day and don’t know how you’re going to tackle everything, then this is the app for you. With 30/30, you can divide up your tasks and set the times you’d like to complete them. Plan out a few hours, or your whole day if necessary, and press play. Then, all you have to do is follow along with the timings and try your best to stick to them. For example, set a timer for an hour to complete some note-making work, followed by a half an hour break and then two hours of essay-writing. This app will help organise your time-management and keep you on track!
And last but certainly not least, this app is an absolute lifesaver. FocusNow does exactly the opposite to all of the other apps in this list: it stops you from using your phone. Simply set a timer, and the app will stop you from using your phone for a set amount of time. It’s so easy to get distracted by social media, when one little Youtube video turns into a marathon session of cat videos, or a quick glance at Instagram turns into a mass stalking session of your friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s cousin, but this app is the perfect prevention. Just set your timer, and get your head back in the game. You’re welcome.
And there you have it – my ten essential apps for education! Give them a go and hopefully you’ll benefit from all their amazing uses, I know I certainly have. I’ve tried and tested every single one of these apps and genuinely love them, so I promise these recommendations are useful. If you find any other great revision or education apps, do let me know, as I’m sure there must be more corners of the app store I’m yet to find! Thanks for reading, have a lovely day, and I’ll see you next time!
By Jack Edwards