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What You Need To Know About Various Apps For Students

What You Need To Know About Various Apps For Students

It probably would be wrong to say that today’s students have it easy, but they certainly have many more tools at their disposal than their predecessors from just ten years ago. There are all these cool apps for students and programs making difficult tasks clearer, entire websites dedicated to writing reviews of academic writing services, additional educational courses available for free. It is hard to imagine how we lived without them. So let’s take a look at five excellent apps for students that make the life of a modern young adults so much easier.

1. WolframAlpha (iOS, Android, Windows)

WolframAlpha feels as if it came straight out of future. Dubbed “Computational Knowledge Engine”, at a glance it looks like a normal search engine, but this impression is quickly dispelled when you start learning its capabilities. Holding over 10 trillion pieces of data and over 50,000 equations, it is capable of computing answers and producing reports on topics ranging from physics and mathematics to history and music, providing scientific data on a vague prompt, complete half-remembered aphorisms and much more. It doesn’t exactly function flawlessly yet, but even now its capabilities are more than impressive.

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2. EasyBib (iOS, Android)

One of the most annoying, time-consuming, boring, the least creative, and still an incredibly important part of any research paper is compiling its bibliography. With the help of EasyBib you may forget it as a bad dream – or at least greatly reduce the amount of time, effort and brain cells you will have to waste doing it. It easily formats your literature list in any of more than 7,000 citation styles – you simply have to write the title of the book, and the app will do the rest. Moreover, you may simply take a photo of the book’s barcode, or enter the ISBN, and EasyBib will generate the citation in the necessary style all by itself.

3. Scribd (iOS, Android, Windows)

Scribd may not be free, but $8.99 a month is more than reasonable a price for the access to the constantly growing library of a million+ books, documents and audiobooks. During your college years you will need many books that probably won’t be necessary afterwards, so it is more than a viable alternative to buying them all separately. In addition to textbooks, here you may find fiction and even graphic novels, store books offline, transfer them between your phone, tablet and desktop, and much, much more.

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4. Fast Scanner (iOS, Android)

Students probably have to deal with all kinds of papers, documents, copies and suchlike even more than secretaries; and Fast Scanner app can be a lifesaver when you have to quickly get a copy of a document or a page from a book. It uses your smartphone’s camera to scan a document and then converts then into PDFs you can easily use later or immediately e-mail to somebody who needs them.

5. Gojimo (iOS, Android)

Gojimo is an excellent way to prepare yourself to SAT, ACT, AP or IB tests and, unlike preparatory courses, it is completely free. It contains over 150,000 quiz questions accompanied with detailed answers dealing with all major subjects present in US and British educational systems. You don’t even need to be online all the time – download the app, and it will be available at any moment.

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With all the awesome tools that are at hand, student’s life doesn’t necessarily get easier, but it is certainly more convenient than it was even a little while ago. With these and other similar apps you may forget about trivial mechanical tasks and concentrate on what is really important!

Good luck in studying and making the best of your apps for students.

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Featured photo credit: hackNY Spring 2011 Student Hackathon/hackNY.orghackNY.org via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 21, 2018

How to Learn Twice as Fast? Get More Feedback

How to Learn Twice as Fast? Get More Feedback

Have you ever heard of the idiom ‘practice makes perfect’? I’m pretty sure someone has said that to you at least once in your life! It’s a common saying, often used to encourage someone when they’re learning or doing something that is new to them.

They may need many tries before succeeding and getting it right. It’s like beginning to ride a bicycle, learning how to drive, taking up a second language, or cooking for the first time. It’s rare for someone to ace it on their first try.

Whenever you want to start learning something new, I’m sure you’re always hoping to get good at it quickly. But the reality is that sometimes it does take days, months or even years before you can confidently master a skill.

That’s simply how learning works. You try, you gain experience, you learn from it, and you try again. And each time, you’re improving and making progress. Everytime you repeat this learning process, you’re going through something called a Feedback Loop.

What separates a fast learner from a slower learner, is not some innate, natural talent. Instead, it’s because they understand how they learn, and have a systematic way to apply it all the time to learn a variety of things. They know how to effectively use their Feedback Loop to speed up the learning process.

So if you’re currently wanting to learn a new skill as quickly as possible, then you’re first going to need to learn how to create an effective Feedback Loop.

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The Feedback Loop

Feedback means getting information about how well you’re performing each time you make an attempt at practicing or applying a skill. Feedback is what tells you what went wrong, or what went right.

A feedback loop is made up of 3 stages:

  1. Practice / Apply – This is the stage where you put what you want to learn into action.
  2. Measure – This is the stage where you’re acquiring information about your performance. This is also the stage that is most ignored… or done ineffectively.
  3. Learn – This is the stage where you analyze how well you performed, and make adjustments to improve and practice/apply again.

It is important to recognize these 3 stages and put them into place each time you practice a new skill.

Many people only have Stage 1 completed, and a very unclear or fuzzy process for Stage 2, which leads to poor results in Stage 3.

A good, smooth cycle will help you continuously make improvements with each loop, creating steady progress and upgrading your understanding of the skill.

How to Have an Effective Feedback Loop

To make sure your Feedback Loop is effective, you will have to look at 3 key factors: Consistency, Speed, and Accuracy.

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Being consistent means having a regular way to get the same quality of feedback. You need to be able to compare every practice or learning experience in order to measure, learn and make adjustments. If your feedback is not consistent, then you’re going to have a hard time knowing what went wrong or what went right.

For example, say you’re learning to play the guitar. If you play a different song every time you practice, you’re going to get very inconsistent feedback. Because the difficulty, rhythm, and pace of every song is different, you won’t have a reliable way to compare how well you played the current song versus the last. So, the best way to learn would be to play the same song over and over again until you get to a certain proficiency.

Seems obvious in this case, but it’s just an example. A lot of times learning is hard because we don’t focus on keeping with a consistent environment or actions.

Let’s move on to the second factor: speed. Having speedy or fast feedback is important because the longer it takes to get feedback, the longer it will take to improve on the skill. That’s why some people spend a tremendous amount of time practicing, but make very slow progress.

On the other hand, the best forms of feedback are almost instantaneous. The shorter the time it takes for one Feedback Loop to complete, the better. This is because you’ll have more attempts, which means more improvements within the same timespan.

How to get fast feedback

So the key to getting fast feedback is to take the skill or knowledge and break it down. Try to breakdown the skill into different components. They could be broken down into steps, subskills or processes, or even by difficulty.

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For example, if the skill you want to learn involves a sequence (ie: there is a step by step process), you can break your learning down by each step. Create a Feedback Loop for each step individually instead of the whole process. Isolate the processes into different parts that you can focus and work on individually.

Let’s say you’re learning to cook. You can break this skill into steps, such as finding fresh and suitable ingredients, preparing and handling the ingredients, preparing condiments and sauces, serving and plating, etc.

Or let’s say you’d like to learn how to play soccer. You can identify the sub-skills that make up the larger learning techniques to playing soccer, and create feedback loops for each of them individually. So you could start by learning how to dribble the ball, followed by passing, and then shooting.

The third and final factor to an effective Feedback Loop, is accuracy. This means having feedback that actually reflects your performance accurately. Since you’re relying on feedback to tell you what and where to improve next time, this is very important. This is why measuring feedback is a key skill to have for an effective Feedback Loop.

How to Measure Feedback

Obtaining accuracy in feedback is a common weak point for many learners, because it’s not always easy to define what “accurate” means.

To get accurate feedback, we have to have a way of measuring it. The reason why we sometimes get poor feedback is because we’re trying to measure our progress without quantifying our performance. Or, we’re using the wrong metrics to quantify the feedback. Worse yet, it might just be that you were never measuring or recording your performance at all.

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In order to find areas for improvement, you have to be able to compare your current performance with your previous performance.

Quantifying something means attaching a number to it. This helps to give objectivity and consistency when comparing two things. Quantifying feedback can give you constructive information that will help you improve during each cycle of the feedback loop.

Continuously Improve Your Feedback Loop!

Are you ready to put your feedback loop into practice? What’s a new skill that you’d like to start on?

Try implementing every stage of the Feedback Loop when learning this new skill and see for yourself whether your learning improves at a quicker rate.

It is essential to continuously improve your Feedback Loop in order to keep up your momentum, and avoid running into the law of diminishing returns. Improving your Feedback Loop means knowing what to measure next, and what questions to ask to find out.

If you’d like to learn more, subscribe to our newsletter. You’ll discover a lot more gems that will help you speed up your learning; and, these skills will push you towards the goals that you’ve been striving for. All your goals are within reach when you master the Feedback Loop!

Featured photo credit: Raj Eiamworakul via unsplash.com

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