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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.