Beginning a new academic year is an incredibly exciting part of a student's life. Students typically go through a varied range of emotions while they prepare for the upcoming year at their respective schools or colleges. They spend a considerable amount of time preparing themselves and getting themselves ready for the next few months. Students also put a lot of research into finding the best set of tools and services for the academic year, such as apps to help students manage their class schedules, apps to help students study better — apps to help students prepare for the academic year ahead.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made things more difficult in 2020, as there is a lot of fear and uncertainty about schools reopening this year. While some schools have announced that classes will only be conducted online, a few others have thrown open their classroom doors to students and several school corridors have already been seen crowded with students.
To help you get around the anxiety of the school year, here’s a handy Back to School guide to help students study better, as well as some apps to make their tasks easier.
For the purpose of this guide, allow us to introduce you to our friend John Owens, a sincere and ambitious student who'll soon begin his academic year in September. This is John's second year at school, and he has been very excited over the last few weeks, running around preparing for the big year ahead. He has been using an iPhone for a few years and has just purchased a MacBook Pro to help him at school. The previous academic year was very valuable in terms of experience, and it taught a lot of new things to John.
[by @biscotta.design from Freepik]
For this year, John will be spending a lot of time studying from home, just like millions of other students across the globe. Here are some helpful tips to help students study from home and also to help them focus better. We’ve already outlined all of these in detail in one of our recent articles, so you should read that too.
- Set up a Dedicated Study Desk where you can sit down and study every day. Ensure that you don’t clutter your desk with unnecessary study materials and spend some time cleaning and organizing it before every class.
- In order to not tire yourself sitting in front of the computer during your online class, get yourself a comfortable & ergonomic chair. Also ensure that your computer screen is at eye-level to avoid straining your neck. This is especially true when you’re using a laptop, as it forces you to look downwards at the screen. You can place a bunch of books under the laptop to bring it to your eye-level.
- Avoid distractions. Speak to your family members and apprise them of your study timings. If you have a pet, ask a family member to take care of them. Turn off your mobile phone or enable the DND mode.
- Plan your study hours through the day. There are lots of great apps that help you manage your time and organize your schedule. Calendars by Readdle is a fantastic planner app for your iPhone and iPad that is available for Free from the App Store. With Calendars, you can plan your daily schedule with ease and also share your calendar with others.
- Take regular breaks between classes and walk around a bit.
- Try meditating for a bit every day using mindfulness apps.
Here at Readdle, we offer an incredible collection of apps for iOS and macOS that help our users save time and get more productive with the use of technology. All our apps are designed to be fast, elegant, easy-to-use and excel at getting the job done for you. As a result, they make great companions for students and educators to power through the academic year during this ongoing deadly pandemic.
Let's take a detailed look at how Readdle's apps can be used by students, teachers, and other educators alike for various use cases and purposes during this academic year.
Reading Textbooks & PDFs from the Online Library
[by @macrovector from Freepik]
In any given academic year, students have to read a lot of textbooks. It was common to see students carrying around big, thick textbooks a few years ago and it absolutely isn't fun lugging around that much weight around. Thankfully, there are digital versions of textbooks available today, weighing in at just a few KBs or MBs, that students can carry around on their smartphones or tablets. Due to the pandemic, many schools and colleges have opened up access to online libraries so that students can download textbooks and study from home.
Our friend John carries around all his textbooks in an app called PDF Expert. PDF Expert is Readdle's incredibly powerful, robust, and feature-rich PDF Editor app for Mac and iOS. PDF Expert offers a complete experience for students to manage, read, edit, annotate and export PDFs as and when they need. It is one of the most crucial apps that John uses in his toolset. Here’s what PDF Expert is capable of:
Storing Textbooks in PDF Expert:
Using PDF Expert, John stores multiple PDF textbooks and neatly organizes them into folders just the way he wants. It is effortless to add and store PDFs in PDF Expert, and with its robust search capabilities, John finds precisely what he is looking for. The app lets you search not just in the file names, but also in the file content.
Reading & Annotating PDF Textbooks in PDF Expert:
John hates the reading off of the bright Retina screen of his iPad, so he has customized how PDF Expert displays PDFs for reading. Because a majority of John's reading is for his textbooks, John prefers using the Sepia theme in PDF Expert during the day, and the Night theme when he's back at the dorm room studying in the after hours. These Sepia and Night themes in PDF Expert allow the reader to avoid straining their eyes by making it easier to read the content of PDFs.
John knows that the advantage of using digital textbooks is best experienced in PDF Expert. While reading a textbook in PDF Expert, John quickly annotates using the available tools (such as highlight markers) and quickly takes notes directly on the content.
The app works great on both his iPhone and Mac, and automatically syncs his content across the devices. All the annotations that he adds in PDF Expert are non-destructive, so he can save these annotations separately or flatten the file if he needs to.
PDF Expert also integrates seamlessly with Readdle's Documents — the digital hub for all your files on your iPhone and iPad. John uses Documents app to have better control over the files stored on his iPhone. And since Documents also integrates with online storage services, he can easily access all the scanned copies of books that he auto-uploaded to his iCloud and Google Drive account and open them directly here in PDF Expert for annotating and taking notes.
We also offer a cool 50% OFF discount on PDF Expert for Mac, which you can claim here.
Scheduling Online Classes and Remembering Due Dates for Homework
As the pandemic has forced everyone at home, schools have switched to conducting online classes using web meeting softwares and services like Zoom, Google Meet, etc.
Just like thousands of students, John has to attend classes and learn everything that's being taught through these online classes. But John being John, he has a lot of activities happening through the day that keep him busy and occupied. Apart from attending his classes, John also takes an online coding course to hone his programming skills and also attends an additional foreign-language class online.
John keeps his schedule in check by using Calendars by Readdle — Readdle's phenomenal calendar and planner app. He adds a schedule of all his classes in the app, so that he's reminded about what the plan for the day is every morning and he can pack accordingly. John makes use of the delightful natural language input feature in Calendars, so that he can simply type things like "Physics class every Monday at 10" and quickly add an event in an instant. By adding his entire schedule for the week in Calendars app, he is able to glance at the entire week's plan together on a single screen.
For shared tasks, such as assignments and homework, John invites his group members so they too can keep track of upcoming due dates for the assignment. Since Calendars works with accounts from different calendar providers, John can use the same account in Spark for Teams, which also supports a built-in Calendar. Any action that John has to relate to email, he can do within the same app.
Calendars by Readdle is an incredible tool in the Readdle toolset and it works great with the other apps too.
Communicating with Classmates and Assignment Groupmates
[by @widokobagoes from Freepik]
In spite of the rising number of apps and services that let you communicate with your family, friends, peers, and classmates, Email has remained a strong, robust, reliable, and independent method of communication in all these years. It can be accessed from anywhere using any email client. Thus, it's no surprise that many schools, colleges, and universities still prefer conversing via email as the sole official channel. In fact, many universities even provide email addresses to its students to use. Here's how our friend John uses Spark Mail app and its incredible lineup of features to help him with his assignments.
John has just been grouped with four others to work on a class project over the next few weeks. This is a public-facing project and involves reaching out to a few dozen businesses for a brief survey and consolidating feedback from each of the businesses. Each of the group members has been assigned different tasks to complete, and different research to carry out. For such a project, John knows that communication is ‘key' and hence, John recommends that his group members start using the Spark mail app.
Spark is Readdle's feature-rich email client that has exceptionally-awesome features for Team communications. Available for the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Android devices (and coming soon to Windows), Spark offers the best email experience on your personal devices.
John creates a team in Spark and invites his group members to it, using the university provided email address. Now, when John and his group receive an assignment related email, they can share the email thread directly with other members of the group without having to manually forward it to them and create unnecessary copies. The group members can also internally comment on the responses received from the businesses before responding.
John has just received an email from his teacher that she needs a status report of the assignment by "Wednesday next week." Since Wednesday is still nine days away, John doesn't have to worry about this email yet, and so John just uses the ‘Snooze' feature of Spark to temporarily ignore the email, but be reminded about it on Monday evening at 8 PM. This lets John focus on more important things in the meantime.
While working on the assignment, John and his group sit through daily video meeting calls and take stock of the progress. This helps them see if anyone is stuck and needs help, and also opens the door to better collaboration. Since John already uses Calendars on his phone, he can directly schedule these calls and the time of their choosing. Calendars integrates seamlessly with popular video meeting services like Zoom and GoToMeeting, which automatically creates a conference call whenever you schedule a meeting event. This feature is also available in Spark Mail app.
It's now Tuesday, and the group has to send out the status report to their teacher. For this, John creates a new Shared Draft in Spark and invites his group members to collaborate on it. With this, the group can collectively compose the status report and each of them can add inputs into the same email, instead of all sending out individual emails to the teacher.
Spark also works great with the other Readdle apps that John uses, so you can open a PDF attachment from your email directly in PDF Expert, edit or annotate it and send it off in a single, seamless flow. When John and his team receive an attachment via email that they want to save, they can save the attachment directly to Documents.
Spark for Teams works just as well for small groups and is an incredibly robust tool for students and educators.
Getting Instant Feedback on Assignments
After having worked really hard on it for two straight weeks, John and his group have now submitted the assignment to their teacher. Just like they sent out the status report, the group collaborated on the shared draft in Spark mail app when sending the assignment email to her, which included a PDF summary of all the surveys the group conducted through the two-week course. John is smart, so the group chose to send out the summary in a PDF instead of a Word Doc, so that the teacher gets to view their work in exactly the same way that the group intended to.
Of course, John isn't the only hero in the school. John's teacher is also a modern educator and understands the value of productivity that Readdle's apps provide.
The Teacher is using Spark mail app on her iPad Pro and when she received the notification from the group, she immediately launched Spark to view the assignment. Now, Spark mail app will open the PDF attachment directly for viewing, so that the teacher can easily go through it right on her iPad, without worrying about which app to open it in.
However, the teacher has to grade the assignment and give feedback to the students. So with a single tap, she opens the attachment in PDF Expert, so that she can annotate on the file using her Apple Pencil. She writes a note, adds the marks to it, leaves a comment, adds her signature, and again with a single tap, the file is attached as a reply to the original email.
This seamless integration between PDF Expert and Spark Mail app is one of the many productivity boosters you can enjoy when you start using Readdle's apps for the upcoming school year.
All of Readdle's apps have been updated and are now ready for the school year. Go ahead, download all of them using the links below and get ready for your school year like never before. And let us know in the comments what's your favorite use-case of using Readdle's apps.
Download Readdle Apps:
Here's a list of all the Readdle's apps, so you can download them and prepare yourself for this academic year.
- Spark → Mail App with team features to help you collaborate & share
- PDF Expert → PDF Reader and Editor to help you study textbooks with all the tools you need
- Calendars 5 → Calendar & Planner for iOS to schedule your classes and organize your day
- Documents → Central hub for all your files on iPhone and iPad
- Scanner Pro → Scan Documents Just by Taking a Photo
And don't forget to claim the 50% off Education Discount on PDF Expert for Mac.