New tech tools to stay on-task | What the Tech?

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WHAT THE TECH? — The old saying from parents of kids who complained about school was “when I was your age, we walked to school uphill, both ways”.

Today’s parents might say “when I was your age, I had to take notes in class by writing them down in a notebook.” It might seem strange for some college students to take notes that way since many use laptops and tablets to take notes for later.

But what’s the best way to take down those notes?

There are many options to help students and others stay organized and on-task. Here are a few of my favorites:

Grammarly is a smartphone app and browser extension that checks for spelling, subject-verb agreement, pronunciation, and even tone detection. It’s a complete writing assistant. The browser extension for Chrome, Windows, iPad, and Android corrects grammar anywhere you write.

Type something up in Evernote, Google, social media, and even email and Grammarly can spot errors or ways to improve a sentence.

Misspelled words are underlined in red and when you hold the cursor under that word, Grammarly corrects the spelling.

I’ve found it to be very accurate. It’s free for most of what students will need but there are subscription options offering more features.

Evernote is one of the best tools I’ve found for creating documents and saving and organizing anything.

Students can create folders for each class and create and save notes in those notebooks. You can also clip items from the internet they need to refer to later, record audio of lectures, and collaborate with study partners.

Evernote also has the Scannable app to create PDFs of documents that can go in those notebooks by simply using the smartphone app to create a file with the camera. Evernote is free to use on one device.

A subscription syncs those notes on phones, laptops, and computers.

Google has its own suite of productivity tools and they’re all free. Google Drive is cloud storage for all of your work such as documents, spreadsheets, photos, and lots more.

If you save anything to Google Drive you can access it from anywhere you log into Google. Google Docs is kind of like Evernote, but better to use if you need to save any document as a PDF file.

Many college professors assign and accept reports and papers as Google Docs. Google Keep creates sharable notes and pins them to a board for organization.

Keep works cross-platform on smartphones, laptops, Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Calendar. It’s very helpful for making to-do lists, shopping lists, and taking notes in class or a business meeting.

It’s also very easy to share and collaborate on projects using Google Keep. Google Collections is a little-known but helpful extension and app where you can save links, images, and more from all of your search results.

Not just for students and workers, but a great way to save recipes you find online, news stories you want to read later, or movies to watch. I searched for Paddington 2, clicked a bookmark and it is saved to my Google Collections watchlist.

Use collections to plan trips to places you want to go. And any collection is sharable. You should check your own files now as you’ve probably saved some things in a collection that you don’t know about.

To check your collection, go to the Google search homepage and click on the icon on the top right of the screen next to your Google Profile picture. This will open a menu of all of Google’s tools, and then scroll down until you see Collections.

Once you click, you’ll see everything you have saved (mine dates back for years) even if you didn’t save it to a collection.

To create a new Google collection, just click on “new” and give it a name. Whenever you search for something, such as a tourist spot you want to visit, a book, a movie, a recipe, or a list of products you like, just save it to that collection by clicking the bookmark on the search results. It works on most websites.