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Power up your education with innovative technology

By: Lisa Shustack, EdD, MSN, MSEd, RN

Tools for organizing, studying, and learning.

Whether you’re a traditional student or returning to school to further your education, finding the best online tools and apps can help make studying and life easier and more fun. Who has time to write out stacks of flash cards or scour through piles of research articles? The right apps and easy-to-use web-based programs can help with time management, organization, and studying, and even spark creativity.

You probably already use apps on your smart phone, tablet, or laptop for entertainment, so using technology to help manage your education will be an easy transition. Both Apple and Android have dozens of programs and apps that can help boost your studying process. You may have some go-to favorites, but let’s explore the top five must-have technologies to power up your education.

iAnnotate 4

The days of going to the library and pulling a journal off the shelf to flip through, find the perfect article, and make a photocopy to keep and highlight just doesn’t happen anymore. Instead, online libraries provide PDF research documents, which can be downloaded and saved electronically. iAnnotate allows you to highlight, bookmark, take notes, make verbal re corded notes, and review those PDFs in a simple format. It’s almost like notetaking on paper but without the paper. Just import and an notate Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and e-book documents that have been converted to PDFs (you can import photos and audio clips, too). With iAnnotate you can take notes in your e-textbooks or insert a verbal note to yourself on a specific page referenced from class. It’s also an option for keeping important parts of research articles organized when preparing citations.

Cost: $9.99 (only from Apple)


The StudyBlue app is an alternative to writing out hundreds of flashcards for studying. It allows you to create online flashcards that are saved in the app and available for review whenever you want. You can pull out your smartphone or tablet and study at the coffee shop, while waiting in long grocery store lines, or whenever you have a minute to spare. You can create flashcards using text or pictures, which can be used offline when the Internet isn’t available. In addition, you can share your flashcards or message with other students who are taking the same course to create a virtual study group. The app also has a reminder feature so you don’t forget to view flashcards before an upcoming exam.

Cost: Free (Apple and Android)


The iStudiez planning tool integrates your schedule via Google Calendar and synchs daily and weekly tasks, homework assignments, and specific class details. Trying to remember all the specific details about an assignment? iStudiez keeps those details linked to assignments from specific courses. Need to contact your professor? iStudiez allows you to input professor contact information or specific details into the app for quick reference. The app also keeps track of your grades and GPA throughout the semester.

Cost: Basic version is free (Apple and Android)


One of the most daunting tasks when writing a paper is setting up the correct format for the bibliography, especially when you have professors requiring different citation styles. EasyBib helps you generate accurate citations in multiple formats, and you can switch the style with one click. Using an ISBN, URL, or source title, you can automatically generate a citation in the correct format. The EasyBib Add-In for Office 365 allows you to create citations directly into your papers without leaving the document. If you’re working on a group project, EasyBib permits users to share citations with just one click.

Cost: Basic version is free


It may sound like a delicious chocolatey snack, but Smore (not to be confused with the S’more app) is an innovative online presentation tool. Rather than creating PowerPoints for every classroom presentation, allows users to design single-page posters or flyers in a userfriendly format. You can add videos, text, images, links to external websites, and track how many views the poster receives. Imagine presenting your next assignment with a visually stimulating and interactive poster that engages your classmates and impresses your professors.

Cost: Free

Plug in and power up

Many web-based tools are available to help you stay organized, save time, stimulate creativity, and increase academic performance. Using technology as part of our everyday lives has revolutionized the way information is communicated and can help us learn more efficiently. Take a few minutes to explore these innovative tools to re-energize your education and put you in control of your learning and productivity.

The right tools and technologies have the potential to help you achieve academic success. After you become an expert at using them, you may even find that they’re essential to your lifelong learning and career. Plug in to power up your education.

Lisa Shustack is an assistant professor at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania.

Selected references

Briz-Ponce L, Juanes-Méndez JA. Mobile devices and apps, characteristics and current potential on learning. J Inf Tech Res. 2015;8(4):26-37.

Davison CB, Lazaros EJ. Adopting mobile technology in the higher education classroom. J Tech Stud. 2015;41(1):30-9.

Sutton KK, DeSantis J. Beyond change blindness: Embracing the technology revolution in higher education. Innov Educ Teach Int. 2017;54(3):223-8.

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