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Gadget Guide: Gearing Up for Online Learning

As September seeps in around us, back-to-school routines seem to be sinking in as well. And while Northcentral University’s year round community of students and teachers never adjourned, they too are excited for the resurgence of academic motivation this season brings.

With new lectures, coursework and mentors, come the starched nylon of a new backpack, a reinforced supply of freshly molded erasers and the unmistakable smell of a new textbook. However, in the realm of online education these supplies are further supplemented with gadgets bearing cords and batteries. Here are some of our recommendations for gear and apps to benefit the distance learner.

Tablet or e-reader: The tablet or e-reader option is a cheaper, convenient alternative to the laptop. Use this type of device to read the week’s assignment on the move. For the determined reader, go with the Nook or Kindle. For the tablet cruiser who wants more options, check out the Vizio Tablet, Samsung Galaxy or the iPad.

Headphones: For the online student, headphones are a necessity. They allow you to drown out the sounds of the busy coffee shop, airport crowd or kids playing in exchange for silence or soothing tunes of your choice.  Headphones come in a variety of forms and price options, from $5 models at Walmart to the $999 In-Ear Reference Monitors by Ultimate Ears. Call us biased, but we are a fan of the Kicker Premium Earbud Headphones in the Northcentral University hues of navy and gold.

Apps: With so much student time being spent with a smartphone or tablet in hand, it is crucial to have the best apps to maximize productivity. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  •  Evernote: The advantage of Evernote is having your notes with you wherever you go, on a variety of platforms. You can take notes on your iPad, and then view them later from your smartphone, laptop or the desktop at your favorite library. Using Evernote, you could also take pictures of something written on a board or on your computer screen and the application has the ability to search the text within photos.
  • Flashcards* or Cram: If you are a fan of the flashcards, try trading in your three-by-fives for one of these useful apps that allows you to make your own flashcards and quizzes to test your knowledge before a big exam.
  • iStudiez Pro: Not a fan of the default calendar options on your device? Check out this app, which allows you to easily keep track of your busy academic schedule.

Want more useful apps? Check out this Mashable.com article for more ideas.

Take a gander at the Engadget Back to School Guide for more ideas on gadgets and gear for your academic pursuits. You may not be at campus this semester, but with these tools you can be sure your online educational experience will be effective and enjoyable.

24 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tom #

    Interesting how you describe the beginning of the new season at the university. I always like the smell of new stuff.

    Evernote is a good tool to keep your notes present wherever you are and you can access them with whichever computing device you have at hand. For taking short notes that are not containing real personal data, I would use it, but I am a little hesitant when to place personal data into the cloud. I would prefer to set up a server at home that I can connect to via the net.
    An Ap that might be of interest to you is MapAlarm. This is a reminder tool that is based on your geographic location using the GPS receiver in your iPhone. The advantage I see in this reminder is that it doesn’t remind me on a certain time to do something, but when I am near the location where I am supposed to do something. Think about shopping for groceries or office supplies. It doesn’t help you to be reminded (and disturbed) by your smartphone when you are not near the location to handle a specific task.
    An other thing to mention – which in my opinion applies to everyone using a cellphone or smartphone – is to take care of your own and others safety. I have seen many accidents because someone was concentrating too much on the conversation he had on the phone or was typing a message while running around campus. Remember, that even with these high tec gadgets, we can only do one thing at a time.

    November 10, 2011
  2. Interesting. I’m all about gadgets but I love my ereader I had literally a wall of books that were heavy to lug around now I have a few hundred books on one light easy to carry around ereader.

    November 18, 2011
  3. Informative! Ever since i’m using my e-reader, i’m in love with it. You are right, e-reader helps us to keep a check on lots of basic stuff when it comes to reading. And i’m with you for the Evernote. its one good app to have on your e-reader.

    November 29, 2011
  4. I have been using e-reader for awhile and it is very helpful in my studies. I do travel quite often and it is very convenient for me to read my e-books! Having downloaded all the lecture notes into both my Ipad and Nook tablet makes reading much easier!

    December 6, 2011
  5. I disagree with the others here in that I think tablets are better than e-readers due to the versatility of them.

    Being able to use them as an ebook reader (at the same time as listening to music), net access, download apps and watch movies all adds up to the total package. The no-name brands are not a lot more than a simple e-reader too.

    December 29, 2011
  6. I find that using a tablet is actually more useful than an e-reader for the purpose of online learning. e-reader helps us to keep a check on lots of basic stuff when it comes to reading.
    Universal Gadget

    January 3, 2012
  7. I’d also recommend a digital pen. I also find that information seems to stick in your head better when you actual write it down, as opposed to just typing it up. With a digital pen you could easily transfer all your notes to your pc and keep them safe. A tablet and a could capacitive stylus would probably work well too.

    January 17, 2013
  8. I think tablets are better than e-readers due to the versatility of them. :-)

    January 22, 2013
  9. Now a days, students are using many gadgets for their online study. They are helpful to organize your work,reducing cost and enhancing time utilization. m Learning Devices, External Hard Drives, Tablet or e-reader, Headphones, Pen Drives are some of the most popular devices those are used for online learning.

    February 17, 2013
  10. Nice post! I always prefer reading notes on my iPad using Evernote. Idea of using iPhone for reading is not easy for me as my eye-sight is not so good and it gives me headache due to small words. I recently bought kindle for my brother and there is a vast difference between iPad and kindle. However, I like my ipad better as it helps me in searching study material online.

    March 20, 2013
  11. I also recommend and use Evernote.

    Quick tip: the Evernote web clipper will work on various platforms including your computer and even mobile devices. I’ve used iCloud to transfer from my Mac to my iPhone.

    Now I can clip from mobile Safari.

    May 6, 2013
  12. The kicker premium headphones are the way to go

    August 27, 2013
  13. I’m a big e-reader supporter…but I find that using a tablet is actually more useful than an e-reader for the purpose of online learning. I almost always find that I need to browse the web for some extra examples/references and you can’t do that with an e-reader. But then of course with a tablet, you will have more distractions.

    August 30, 2013
  14. A really good guide for students. Thanks for sharing

    March 14, 2014
  15. I agree, good advice for students

    March 14, 2014
  16. Thank you, your advantage is ever note is having your notes, you can takes notes on your iPad, and than view letter on your smartphone. I almost always find that I need to browse the web for some extra examples and you can’t do that with and e-reader. But then of course with a tablet, you will have more distraction.

    March 16, 2014
  17. Nice post! Think about shopping for groceries or office supplies. It doesn’t help you to be reminded (and disturbed) by your smartphone when you are not near the location to handle a specific task. I always prefer reading notes on my iPad using Evernote. Idea of using iPhone for reading is not easy for me as my eye-sight is not so good and it gives me headache due to small words.

    March 17, 2014
  18. Spot on with this write-up, I really believe this
    amazing site needs much more attention. I’ll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the information!

    March 18, 2014
  19. tablets really do come in handy to a college kids. I have a Samsung tablets that I got from newworldtechs.com/ also the tablet is easy to carry and when its time to take notes I have a keyboard for it.

    April 10, 2014
  20. As the technology age is in full force, changes in education supplies are only necessary to adapt to the new style of learning.

    April 12, 2014
  21. I love my iPad mini for reading – just seems to be the right size to suit me and I’m a fan of iOS. My 3 year old also likes it! I have a cool bumper cover for when it’s her turn. Tried a number of tablets for her and eventually opted for the iPad mini with the case… so we can both use it. I agree the iPhone is too small for reading.

    April 14, 2014

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