Tag Archives: flipboard

Digital tools for study – updated

Not long after I arrived I write a post about the digital tools I was thinking about using for my studies. I thought it would be interesting to look back 8 months on and see which I found useful, which were replaced by something else, which didn’t deliver and which new ones I picked up along the way.

First I’ll look at the ones I mentioned in the original post.

1. Evernote

I’m still using it, but not as much as I thought. But it’s really useful to have a note-taking service, and I do use the widget on my desktop to clip links, or take little notes while I”m working on my laptop.

2. Flipboard

Dear me, I love this tool. Not only does it make reading social content so much more pleasurable than most interfaces, but it is a fantastic content curation tool. I’ve been using it to curate content for the company where I am working, as well as putting together magazines on several issues of  interest to me.

3. Mendeley/Zotero

I mentioned Mendeley as a reference management tool, but in the end I went with Zotero. It has a Firefox add-on so that when you download the pdf of an article, you download it directly into the service. Then you can search all articles by title, content and author, read the articles and generate references. It’s difficult to over-estimate the importance of generating references, in terms of what a time-saver it is for essays, and I have found that Google Scholar’s references just aren’t reliable.

4. Wunderlist/Trello

I do love Wunderlist, but I haven’t used it as much as I have been using Trello, and actually good old pen and paper. But as an online tool, Trello has helped me in all sorts of ways. It’s great for keeping a note of what you need to do and with the upgrade you get for inviting new people and tweeting about the serivce, you can add calendar reminders and various other useful enhancements. Trello really comes into its own for project work: we used it for our (winning!) team at start-up weekend and in our final project management class it was a great way for us to keep in touch as a team when the group was physically broken up. I’ve had a go at other management tools like Asana and Knotable, but Trello seems to have got a great balance of simple and effective.

5. Dropbox

Dropbox has remained a staple for me. It integrates into my Finder window so it’s a seamless part of my set up, and it also makes it easy to share content with others. Definitely a gold star service.

6. Scrivener

I haven’t really had call to use this yet, though it may come into its own with my research project next semester.

So those were the ones I thought I would use a lot. I was right about some, not about others. So which were the ones I hadn’t thought of that I use?

7. Google

Another set of services that in spite of myself I really couldn’t have got here without. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides have all been invaluable for the various group projects we have had to do across a number of subjects, plus presentations in Google Slides seem to avoid incompatability problems. They are not full versions of their equivalents in Office or the Mac Suite, but for collaborative working, there really isn’t anything like them.

8. GoodReader

One more to add to the ‘indispensable’ list. Goodreader is a document reader which I have on my iPad, allowing me to make notes, either free-hand or typed, highlight sections and generally read the many many articles that are part and parcel of a social science Masters. It links to Dropbox, so I can access whatever I save in there.

9. Meetup

Not really a digital tool, but something that has been pretty central to my life in Melbourne, Meetup has been a wonderful way to connect with a range of interesting events and people, from startups to music fans to my favourites, the monthly French-speaking meetup. Chouette!

Digital tools for study

With O-week starting tomorrow, and several sessions programmed about returning to study, I’m getting really excited about embarking on my academic adventure the following week. But there’s one area that’s going to be really different for me this time and that’s the use of digital tools for studying. Last time I was at university we didn’t even have email, and you could handwrite assignments. I remember writing what I thought was a satirical article about the LSE in 2020, when lectures would be delivered straight into students’ rooms and essays submitted electronically. Well, that all happened a lot earlier than 2020!

But of course, it’s me, so I have done some thinking about and digging around for digital tools that will help me organise my study. Here are the ones I’ve lined up for the new semester. It’ll be interesting to look back in a few weeks and see how they’re going.

1. Evernote

I was slow getting into Evernote. Well, I set up an account ages ago but never used it much. But the development of IFTTT transformed my use of the service. I have IFTTT set up so that when I favourite a tweet, it gets saved to Evernote. This is a really easy way to mark things for later reading that I come across on Twitter. I can then later organise them into my various Evernote notebooks, one of which is for the EMA. I went the whole hog and bought premium – only about £30 for a whole year. It means you can use the notebooks offline and search them better, though I haven’t yet got it to search the photos I take from real-life notebooks, which it said it could do.

2. Flipboard

Flipboard is a very attractive way of reading social content, slurping your feeds from Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ and whatever else you use into a magazine-style interface that you can leaf through. It used to work with Google Reader, but since that was closed, you need to feed from individual sites. It’s not great for the interaction element of these sites (it’s driving me mad that you can’t read Twitter bios) but is a great way of curating content and sorting it into categories through their magazine function. I now have a magazine called EMA Times, into which I can flip any content from across my feeds that I think will be relevant to the course.

3. Mendeley

I’ve just signed up for this tonight. It describes itself as a referencing tool and academic social network. The idea is that you load your PDFs of articles and it slurps the citation information. It also allows you to connect with academic colleagues. I can’t remember where I came across it (it was in Evernote, so maybe on Twitter?) but I’m willing to give it a go.

4. Wunderlist

Assignments, research activities, parties, club meetings: uni is going to be about time management. There are thousands of to-do list apps out there, but Wunderlist is the best one I’ve come across. Partly it’s the attractive interface, partly the flexibility in nesting activities, setting due dates and prioritising. Also it syncs seamlessly across the desktop, iPad and iPhone.

5. Dropbox

I bought a MacBook Air to come to uni, and it’s great that it’s so light, when I have to walk to campus in the morning, or lug it on the tram. But it doesn’t have much storage space. So Dropbox is a saviour. It’ll also mean that my research, drafts etc are accessible whether I have my laptop with me or not.

6. Scrivener

I bought this software at the suggestion of a friend who said it was extremely helpful for preparing drafts of academic papers and other manuscripts. It’ll be a while till I need this, but as it is linked to Index Card, which I already use a lot, I thought it was worth giving it a go.

I’m sure I’ll also be using a lot of the tools I found useful when working, such as Prezi, Yammer (there is a unimelb network), and Pearltrees. Though at the moment the best ones are those keeping me in touch with family and friends, and helping me make new friends here!