Now that most schools and universities have announced that classes for academic year 2020 to 2021 will be conducted online, our school supply list will look very different from what we’re used to. Instead of the mix of physical and digital materials that we’ve already adopted for blended learning, we will now have to make a complete shift towards digital resources under this new normal.
Of course, the transition won’t be seamless – it will take some time to adjust to a totally online learning experience. As a student myself, I can 100% attest to this. Had I not had the access to the resources I currently use now, it would’ve been near impossible to cope with the demands of online learning. With that, here are five tried and tested “online school supplies” that will help you get the best and most productive online learning experience:
- A device. This is arguably the most important item on this list as, without a laptop or tablet, you wouldn’t be able to access any of your course materials – much less the rest of the resources in this article. Personally, I have been using a tablet to accomplish my online learning tasks, and I highly recommend it for a number of reasons. Firstly, a tablet is definitely less expensive than a laptop and it can pretty much do everything a laptop can, except run specific programs such as programs for coding, large data computation, and the like. So if you are majoring in data science, computer science, programming, or IT, a tablet might not be the best fit for you. But other than that, a tablet would function just as well as a laptop can for half the price, and at this point, choosing between the two devices would be a simple matter of budget and preference.
It’s also important to note that you do not need a very expensive and fancy device to run the basic programs and applications your school or university would require you to. There are tons of laptops and tablets being sold by official stores online that are priced at Php18,000 or less – such as Acer’s Intel Celeron N4100 – and tablets that are priced at Php7,000 or less – such as Huawei’s MediaPad T3 8.
- A stable internet connection. They say that purchasing the right internet package is almost like purchasing the right house – there are a lot of things to consider before definitively being able to pick the most suitable plan for you. If your WiFi is in dire need of an upgrade, the two most important things you’ll need to consider are your budget and the number of people who will be using the connection. More people would entail a stronger – and thus, more expensive – internet connection. Another thing to keep in mind is the kind of programs that you will need to run using this connection – if you’re simply going to be accessing materials through your internet browser, then a standard internet plan should suffice. But if you have to view and/or upload videos or files in high definition or will be engaging in important video conferences that cannot lag, then you might need to purchase a more expensive plan that will allow you to do these things.
If upgrading or purchasing an entirely new internet plan is out of question, then you could start by getting a pre-paid pocket WiFi plan and device. It’s definitely not going to be as fast as cable connection and it’ll only be able to run basic programs and applications, but it is a lot better than having no connection at all.
- Microsoft 365 or Google Suite. It is without a doubt that Microsoft and Google’s collaborative and extremely efficient applications are an absolute godsend to us students. Having all our files – whether they are Word or Docs, Excel or Sheets, Powerpoint or Slides – in one easily accessible place cuts the stress of locating them or even combining them down to a minimum. If your school or university is eligible for Microsoft 365 or Google Suite, all you have to do is simply use your unique school email and start using these applications for free. If it isn’t, however, there are many different steps you can take to still be able to access these bundles.
For Microsoft 365, there are a range of affordable plans for you to choose from; you may opt to purchase the family plan if there are many of you in the household who will use it, or a personal one if not. The subscription gives you a choice between a monthly or yearly payment option as well. Take a look at all of their available plans for students on the Microsoft 365 site and see which one is the best and most affordable one for you.
As for Google Suite, you don’t actually have to purchase the bundle to use the applications for free, which is why I highly recommend the Google applications for students who are on a tight budget. All you need is a Gmail account and you have instant access to applications such as Google Drive, Classroom, Meets, Hangouts, Docs, Sheets, and so on. Of course, you would have to manually piece these applications together to form your own “bundle,” but as long as you use the same Gmail account for each one, it’s fairly easy to do so!
All in all, whichever you choose, both the Microsoft 365 and Google Suite bundles are incredibly useful for a large number of things – creating documents, reports and presentations, taking notes, coming up with comprehensive spreadsheets, collaborating with your teachers and classmates, and so on. Whether you get the basic or premium versions of these applications, they will surely make online student life a lot easier!
- Extra online resources. Fortunately for us students, having devices and internet connection means we have access to a wide open range of resources that will help us with our learning. Nowadays, we aren’t limited solely to the materials being provided to us by our teachers, but we can branch out to other online resources to supplement and complement these.
Applications such as YouTube, Khan Academy, and Socratic can help explain just about any of the trickier topics we tackle. Each application gives you access to extensive videos, tutorials, problem sets, and solutions to a wide range of subjects – and the best part is that they are all free!
Quizlet, Quizizz, and Kahoot!, on the other hand, are great for testing and reviewing your knowledge on just about any concept under the sun. What’s more is that these applications aren’t just educational, but fun as well; they surely make boring topics feel more like a breeze, and luckily, this also increases your chances of remembering and understanding the concepts more.
- To-do list and scheduling applications. It’s no secret that online classes make it a lot easier for us to lose track of time or fall behind schedule. Fortunately for us there are a great number of apps out there that will help us stay on track – some of them already being on our smartphones! You can use your phone’s calendar or notes app to jot your schedules and tasks down, but if you prefer to use an independent app that allows for more personalization and other extra features there are many to choose from.
You can use Google Calendar, Pocket Schedule Planner, or Calendars to build and better maintain your schedule. Done and Productive, on the other hand, are to-do list apps that might suit you better if you’re looking to build healthier and more consistent study habits. But if you just want a simple, traditional to-do list, then the apps Lists To Do, MinimaList, Microsoft To Do, and Todoist might be a better fit. These are only some of the many scheduler and to-do list applications out there and really, all it takes is a little bit of searching to find the best one for you.