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New apps aim to make students more productive in new school year

08 September 2014, 14:09

Toronto - Students eager to keep on top of classes, assignments and extra-curricular activities can turn to new apps to keep them organized as the new school year ramps up.

With millions of high school and college students returning to classes this month new apps are designed to help them improve group collaboration, set and track deadlines and to keep lecture notes better organized.

Asana, a recently launched app for iPhone and iPad, lets students organize their course work and projects, track deadlines, and collaborate with their classmates to keep up with their workload.

"Students have a lot of things going on campus, and on top of that need to manage multiple notebooks and calendars. But with the app, they can put everything in one place to stay on track," said Kelsey Aroian, a marketing associate at the San Francisco-based Asana.

With the free app, available worldwide in English, students can create different workspaces for both course work and campus life. They can also plan projects for each course and tasks based on different assignments.

Deadlines, assignees and other content, such as lecture notes or research, can be added to each task to keep everything in one place, according to Aroian.

As deadlines approach, students receive reminders and can sync tasks with their electronic calendars. They can also invite classmates to collaborate on projects.

"It's a much more cohesive approach than the email you might be sending to accomplish the same thing, or other discombobulated attempts at keeping track of projects," said Aroian.

Another app called Notability lets students write their notes while recording a lecture, and syncs the notes with the audio. The app costs $2.99 and is available on iOS devices.

Talkboard, a free iPad app, allows students to invite classmates to share a virtual whiteboard to brainstorm ideas together and view each other's sketches in real-time.

Twoodo, free for iOS and Android devices, is promoted as a team collaboration tool for the hashtag generation. Students can organize discussions, to-do lists, notes and events using Twitter-style hashtags and mentions.

Others free apps such as Adobe Voice, for making videos, and Haiku Deck, for making presentations, provide simple ways of getting ideas across quickly.

Jason Womack, executive coach and founder of the coaching company Get Momentum, said students are increasingly using task management systems.

"The bright and shiny perception is that there must be an app that does it better," said Womack. "But it's not about the tool. Apps will only keep people on task as much as they put into it," he said.

Womack said the apps can be helpful, but advised students to be selective in choosing them.

"The more places I park reminders, the more time it takes. So if you minimize the places things can go, you will maximize the time you have when you're there," he said.

- Reuters


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