Sometimes studying can seem way more complicated than it needs to be, so here are 8 pieces of tech to make it that little bit easier for you...
Rocketbook is a cloud-connected smart notebook; once you capture the pages, you can erase and reuse the pages. It's a great sustainable alternative to using lots of single-use notebooks. Rocketbook Wave can be erased by putting it in the microwave (yeah, genuinely by microwaving it!) and Rocketbook Everlast can just be wiped down. They're affordable, but not the cheapest, but they do win bonus points for sustainability and saves you having to buy notebooks all the time.
WiFi Extender / Ethernet Cable
I know the pain of being half way through a video call or working on an online doc, then the internet drops out. Whether you're living at home or in shared student accommodation, I highly recommend getting yourself an Ethernet cable if you have the socket in your house or halls, or getting yourself a WiFi extender if you don't.
I first wrote about Float back in 2019 when I introduced the app to the Learning Lab team. The Float App allows you to manage essays and to stay on top of your deadlines by seeing how many words you need to do per day to complete it before the deadline. It is completely free (ideal for that student budget), has a really easy to navigate user interface, and even can be integrated with Google Docs. The app is now something that the team recommend to students when they come for essay and dissertation consultations.
Noise-cancelling headphones are designed to cancel out some ambient sounds. They help to improve concentration by blocking out distracting noise, which is particularly useful if you live in halls, shared homes or have caring responsibilities. Noise-cancelling headphones actually give you a better listening experience too, so if you're listening to a podcast, educational video or even music to help you concentrate, it can improve your experience. Not only that, but they have lots of health benefits such as keeping you safe from noise exposure over long periods (which can cause hearing loss and tinnitus), helping to reduce stress and improving your sleep if you're using them at night.
You probably know about Paperpile, especially if you've started one of the essay modules of your course, but it's a way to keep all of your research in one place. It makes referencing much simpler and easier than manual referencing, and even has the option to put your references into specific groups or labels. Paperpile is free to all Plymouth College of Art students, has in-built Plymouth College of Art havard referencing, and integrates with Google Scholar, Google Docs and has a Google Chrome extension. You can find out more about Paperpile, and how to use it, on the Student Portal here.
Grammarly is a typing assistant that you can download for free to assist with your emails, social media posts, and even integrate into Google files for essays or otherwise. Grammarly reviews spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, engagement, delivery and the tone of your writing by using artificial intelligence to identify and search for an appropriate replacement for the error it locates. Grammary Premium is a paid upgrade that offers over 400 types of checks and features, checks for grammatical errors, provides vocabulary enhancement suggestions, detects plagiarism, and provides citation suggestions.
Digital Voice Recorder or Dictaphone
Dictaphones are specially designed for an individual person speaking, and they are available to rent for free from the Equipment Resource Centre or purchase at affordable prices from Argos, Curry's, etc. Of course, you can also get apps, and most smart phones already have built-in voice recorders but they're not great quality and often pick up a lot of background noise. Having recordings are useful to go back and listen to parts of a lecture, particularly if you have issues taking notes, keeping up or concentrating for longer periods of time. Recordings are useful not just to ensure the accuracy of lecturers but crits are tutorials too, where it's harder to take notes and remember all the feedback and suggestions you're given.
Speech-To-Text Software and/or Apps
If you're someone who prefers to handwrite in the first instance speech-to-text means you can read out notes, sketchbook annotations, essay paragraphs and more, and these will be transformed to text, ready to add to your blog, document or print out. Speech-to-text software and apps, such as Dragon Dictation, make this possible, but you may find that your smart phone, tablet or other devise has it built-in.
Have you got any more you think should be added? Let us know or comment below!
Best, Harriet Moore
Student Union Manager