Digital learning tools
Tools for supporting your academic journey
Learning at university requires different ways of planning and managing yourself.
Various tools that can help you be more successful along the way.
Time management tools and tips
Effectively managing your time is one of the key skills needed for success at university and beyond. Here are some tools and tips that may help you get organised.
Make your calendars work for you
You may already have a calendar tool you use. Here are a few tips on how you can use it to support your studies:
- Use your calendar to block out your study time for example,reading and research
- Plan your major assessments and put your milestones in the calendar (e.g., Start research, complete draft 1)
- Use the reminder features of the calendar as a prompt for actions.
Google Calendar with your student email account:
- Google Calendar, sign in with your firstname.lastname@example.org email to get started;
- Support documentation for Google Calendar.
Planning, Task and To do lists
Planning for your study helps you stay organised. A task list can also motivate you to stay focused and make your progress visible. It is tempting to start with a large list, but that may look too daunting to tackle very quickly. It will take you time to find the right balance of a realistic ‘to do’ list that helps you stay motivated!
Here are some apps you can try:
- Wunderlist – plan, organise them by courses, set reminders, and collaborate. You can filter by due dates;
- Google Keep – Quick notes, lists, ideas, set reminders on the list, or share the list with others. You can also create labels for the lists and colour code them. It supports handwriting as well as images. It comes in as a mobile app and as a Chrome browser extension. It also integrates with google docs
- Canvas To-do list – a quick way to add course specific reminder and to do list on your Canvas dashboard
- Trello – If you are already using the Trello for group collaboration, you can also create a board there as your own to do list with cards, due dates and labels.
Focus on the task
Once you have a plan for studying or a task list to work with, it is also important to stay focussed and stay on task. You can allocate an hour on a task, but only get 5 minutes of work done.
Here’s a technique to help you stay on task.
When you focus on a task for 25 minutes then take a 5-minute short break, then repeat for 2-4 cycles before you take a longer break (20-30 minutes).
Here are some apps you can use with this technique:
Can’t help being distracted by the phone?
Consider using a kitchen timer or putting your phone into flight mode.
Notes keeping tools and tips
You can take handwritten notes, or take notes electronically, or a combination. For further information visit the Handwritten vs electronic note taking.
The following apps can be used to take notes electronically:
- Microsoft OneNote – take notes, organise your notes into sections, section groups and pages;
- Add-on: OneNote Clipper tool – clip content from the web directly into your OneNote
- Google docs – You can also use Google docs with Google Drive to keep and organise your notes. It has standard word processing features along with collaboration features if you want to share notes with others
- Evernote free for two devices – similar to OneNote, also allows you to take notes, organise, embedding images, PDFs, clip web pages and share notes with others.
Tools for Dictation
Sometimes it helps to think out loud or have the computer do the typing for you. Here are some apps to try:
- Google docs offers built-in Voice typing you can access this from ToolsVoice typing
Tools for Scanning document
If you need to scan something to add to your notes or turn a paper document into a PDF file, there are apps for doing this.
TechRadar listed the best scanning apps of 2018, here are some cross-platform free apps to consider:
Health and well being tools and tips
While you have studies and other commitments, it is also important to remember to look after your physical and mental well being.
A Harvard Business Review article suggested that 10 minutes a day practising mindfulness can change how you react to everything (Hougaard, Carter & Dybkjaer, 2017).
We recommend the Smiling mind app. Psychologists and educators created it based on mindfulness meditation. Easy, quick and can be done anywhere.
Another mindfulness app recommended by another student: Calm
You can go to the gym for fitness classes or yoga classes, or go for a walk, a run outside. You can also find various apps that help you fit in your physical workout each day:
Habits are accumulative; you can create good habits by doing it daily. Start small to make it sustainable in the longer term.
- Streak apps (iOS and Android) – set a target for yourself, do it every day to keep your streak;
- Habitica gamified app to build good habits in your life.