Digital tools are changing the way we learn. Lectures are delivered remotely, digital whiteboards are replacing the traditional chalkboard, BYOD (bring your own device) has entered the curriculum.
Digital tools complement traditional learning as well as support lifelong learning. On the other hand, lifelong learning requires continuous improvement of digital skills. Learning and technology, therefore, go hand in hand.
Many tools promise better productivity management, better self-organization, higher learning success, etc.
Find out which apps can be useful for you
I asked the students in my module to try out some digital tools to support their studies.
At the end of the semester, I asked them for their feedback. I received responses from 23 students.
Students are grateful for the opportunity to try out different apps. Some did not know that there are apps that can help them study. 50% of the students find the apps very to extremely helpful for studying. Only 10% of students found the apps only somewhat or not at all helpful.
Only a small portion of students tried apps that were not mandatory. Nonetheless, they reported that it is good “to have a choice of apps available.” Even though “not all apps (are) suitable for every purpose, they can be a very useful tool in many cases.“.
It is problematic that many of the apps have paid versions and “you can therefore only use the functions to a limited extent. Otherwise, the apps were very helpful and appropriate for getting homework done.“
Another question relates to data protection. Many apps track their users and access their data. It would therefore make sense to look into these aspects of the app as well. On Exodus, you can check all Android apps regarding tracking and permission.
Digital tools are not a necessity for successful study. But considering the fact that we all depend on our smartphones, I think it is good to use them consciously for our own growth as well. Preferably without any privacy concerns.
When I asked the students which learning techniques they remember at the end of the semester, they mentioned the ones they could practically check out with the help of the apps.
Focus To-Do – Pomodoro Technique & Tasks (focustodo.cn): 54% of the students were fully happy; according to Exodus the App has 2 trackers/17 permissions.
Forest – Stay focused, be present (forestapp.cc): 41% satisfaction; 14 trackers/19 permissions!
Study Bunny: Focus Timer – Apps on Google Play: fully convinced 17% of the students; is with 2 trackers/4 permissions privacy-friendly.
Mindly | Organize your inner universe (mindlyapp.com): 62,5% satisfaction; 2 trackers/8 permissions.
Create Your Mind Maps Online – On Any Device | MindMeister: 60% satisfaction; 6 trackers/10 permissions.
iBrainstorm on the App Store (apple.com): convinced 20% of the students.
An important competency in today’s digital world is being able to cope with the amount of information available and being able to manage the different sources of information.
Some ways to accomplish this are:
- know more than one search engine
- not rely 100% on the first 3 search hits &
- critically assess the available information and distinguish facts from fake news.
The students tried out the Fake News Check app (available only in German). It contains 19 questions, the answers to which help to evaluate Webpages or Social-Media-Posts. The app sensitizes the students about critical assessment of information from the internet.