Going digital in my academics, for me, was extremely simple and easy. I grew up in a VERY tech-savvy family. I started helping my Dad build computers from just the components at the age of 8. I would help him build the box and then set it up in his office. I have also worked with both of my parents on computers constantly for the past 5 years and I’ve used iPads ever since they came out. Over the last several years I’ve taken apart printers, laptops—including MacBooks, iMacs, iPhones, hard drives and speakers and then put them back together again. Technology is a big part of my life, but mostly my education. So, why not use technology to HELP with my education?
This year my mission has been to show students that being organized doesn’t mean having to buy a bulky paper planner and carry heavy textbooks. Over the last two years, I’ve completely converted all my academic materials to digital. My textbooks are digital, my notes and my planner are all on my iPad. So when I go to class I carry my iPad and maybe one textbook. This makes my backpack a fraction of the size and weight of what it used to be. We even made a video comparing just the bulk differences of carrying less. I want to show students how to be organized in the 21st century with new technologies that are really simple to learn and easy to implement. In this post, I’m going to be showing you the apps, gadgets and resources that I use for being an organized, paperless, digital student.
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MY FAVORITE APPS as a DIGITAL STUDENT
These are the apps that I use for studying and note taking. I like to keep my studying relatively simple, I don’t use many apps. These four are my absolute favorite and the ones I use daily.
Scribd – Scribd is a digital reading subscription where you can read or listen to thousands of books and textbooks. There is a small fee every month, but I feel it’s worth it. I was able to find all but one of my textbooks on Scribd in the current edition. This was amazing. Even some of them were uploaded as a PDF format and I was able to highlight and annotate them on my iPad.
GoodNotes – I LOVE GoodNotes 4 for my digital planner, and taking class & reading notes. GoodNotes keeps me organized. I’m able to keep all my notes in one place. I’m able to keep my textbook notes, some of my actual textbooks, notes from class and my digital planner all on my iPad. But one of my favorite things is the iCloud auto-backup system that keeps all my notes safe and allows me to have all my notes and my planner on my phone, as well as my iPad.
Mango Languages – Right now I am learning Biblical Hebrew as my language. I was surprised to find that Mango includes a Biblical Hebrew course! I really like to use Mango as a supplement for the course I’m already enrolled in online at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Mango teaches it in a different way than my professor, so it’s nice to have a second angle on the language
Quizlet – Quizlet is a digital flash cards app that is an excellent study aid. I mostly use this for my Biblical Hebrew for vocabulary lists. I was able to take the spreadsheets that were provided from my university and make sets of vocab flash cards. Also, Quizlet allows you to add sets from others in the community to your account.
I use a digital planner on my iPad to plan out all my tasks, assignments, and responsibilities. This might sound like a no-brainer, but I like to keep all my schedules in one place. When you sign up for classes you get schedules for each one, so you can have 7 different schedules at a time—not including the exam schedules as well. So, I like to use one planner to keep all my class, exam and homework schedules. This way I know what to expect over the week or just in one day. I also like to keep my scheduling relatively simple so that I’m not flipping back and forth in my planner. Below is the method I use to make sure that I don’t miss class or have overdue projects and homework.
- Before I start a class, I go through my monthly and weekly layouts and fill in all the dates given to me. I schedule out exam dates, class dates and any extras for the whole semester.
- As the class progresses, I add in dates given to me by my professor. These are when homework and projects are due. As I go through the weeks, I will be reminded of when exams are due because I filled those in before the class started.
- I work backwards from the day that homework or a project is due, going all the ways back to the day that I should start working on it. I make sure to give myself too much time to complete a task. This way if one project runs long, or something comes up, I’ll still have plenty of time to finish.
As a benefit to being digital, I can sync my planner that’s on my iPad to my iPhone and I always have my phone with me. Even when I’m out with friends, I can plan my time with easy access to my schedules on my phone.
For many years, I’ve used traditional planners for my academic schedules. The digital planner I use is one I’ve designed myself. Taking my years of experience with paper planners, I’ve combined many different types of planners and subtle planning techniques/strategies together; as well as, combined the nostalgia of a paper planner and the digital benefit of a calendar/scheduler to create the best academic planner for students. I sell them on my blessing by design store.
I want to help you succeed with your being a digital student! I have created lots of helpful built-in “helps and tips” pages on my digital planners. I also have created lots of helpful videos on my youtube channel for using digital planners.
MY BACKPACK for a DIGITAL STUDENT
I was able to purchase a slim, yet durable, compact backpack because I don’t have to carry around a bunch of textbooks and notebooks. I did a lot of research to make sure that I got the smallest backpack I could, but I could still carry my iPad, iPhone and possibly a few textbooks. The style of backpack I got is a one-strap, sling backpack. These kinds of backpacks are my personal favorite, but I’m sure there are many different styles in a smaller size. I bought it on Amazon, but Walmart sells it here.
I am pleasantly surprised at the quality of this backpack. It has plenty of padding for the amount of stuff that I’m carrying. It’s a good size, the bulk of it being a little larger than a piece of US letter paper. This thing has become my purse as well, since I didn’t want to carry two bags while at college. In spite of its small size, it has plenty of room for my iPad, iPhone, wallet and two textbooks. The zippers are very high-quality compared to what I’m used to, which is VERY nice. No more catching zippers! It also has three compartments: a large zipper at the back, medium middle clip and a small front zipper pouch, which allow for organization.
Let me know if you have converted to digital and how it’s going. Also, add any advice from your own experience as a digital student. I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading my blog!