The prevalence of technology in today’s society and places of learning is often dismissed as encouraging students and non-students alike to depend overmuch on gadgets, rather than using their brain. But when used in the right way, gadgets can be a valuable learning tool. You have to use them to learn, rather than trying to find all the answers without doing any work:
When you have exams or tests coming up, check for past papers and practice questions online. These can be found at all levels, from school age to university. Obviously different questions will come up in your actual exams, but using past papers is a good way of assessing your knowledge, finding any gaps, and showing you what you need to revise. You’ll also understand the type of questions that will be asked.
There are tons of useful free apps and programs that will help you build a study schedule. Why do you need an app to do this? It saves carrying a diary around and means you can plan your work week. Plus, you can easily make changes without having to scribble over existing plans. Making a study schedule is a good idea if you find it hard to get motivated, as your daily tasks will be set out in front of you. Planning also helps you avoid last-minute panics because you’ve forgotten an essay is due in.
Podcasts are a fantastic resource for learners. The famous TED talks are just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless podcasts all over the net that a student can make use of. You might not be able to attend such august institutions as Cambridge and Harvard, but many of their lectures have been made freely available online. It’s a wonderful way of listening to lectures from top universities around the world
Business and creating
Thanks to the internet, anyone can create a slideshow, video, or audio, for use as a teaching resource or presentation. You can start a podcast, or teach people on the other side of the world. Build a website to sell educational tools, buy your course textbooks second-hand, or create an app to teach children – there are many possibilities for making a educational business or accessing what you need to learn.
If you need to do any research, it’s so easy these days – just get online. Websites are often accepted as sources for essays, but be cautious of which ones you cite – they need to be reliable and reputable sources. But with an internet connection, you can access global resources such as newspapers, library catalogues, and publishing information (useful when you’re writing a bibliography and have forgotten to note down the year of publishing for a book).
Language learning may not come easily to some people, but the internet is full of resources to help. If you don’t have time to attend a class, learning online is a useful way of learning the basics or increasing your vocabulary if you’re more advanced. You can test yourself, watch foreign-language TV or movies, and have conversations with native speakers. Many sites are free to use.
Apps are also handy for language learning, and much more besides. You name it, you can find an app for it. Whether you’re a parent trying to help your children learn, a student at uni, or simply learning for the love of it, you’ll find a whole host of educational apps to help.
Accessing rare texts
A problem that university students often run into, especially postgraduates, is finding that their campus library doesn’t stock a rare text they need. It’s always worth searching online to see if the book has been digitised. There are many sites that offer access to rare and common texts that can either be downloaded or borrowed. This is also very helpful to the student budget! Though should you want to get an actual copy you can search sites like Abebooks and Bookfinder.
Technology offers students the chance to make contact with other learners around the globe. Writing your doctoral thesis? Discuss the topic with other researchers working on the same topic. Learning an obscure language? Find a native speaker to practice with on Skype. The internet brings us all together and offers us many opportunities to connect.