5 Online Tools to Enhance Your Learning

May 4, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

Studying is hard—it should be.  If it feels difficult, your brain is trying to learn something new.  Studying doesn’t have to happen with your nose in a book, though. 

Sometimes you need to see something to understand it.  Sometimes you need to draw it.  Sometimes you need to listen to an example.  Have a little bit of each learning style? 

You can improve your learning—make it sharper, more visual, more aesthetically in-tune to your learning style—by trying these 5 online learning tools.  Let’s take a closer look.

 

1. Quizzes

The dreaded quiz—is it a test?  Regular assignment?  Somewhere in between.  By designing your own, you have the power to teach yourself material that you need to know—in ways that you need to know it.  Check out these online quiz options. 

Need to memorize something?  Want to memorize something?  Try Quizlet.  You can make your own games and quizzes—and use previously made games and quizzes on the same topics. 

Quizbean offers another great option for generating different types of quizzes with audio and visual effects.  While there’s a fee scale, having the autonomy to design your own quizzes that you can share could be worth it.     

Sporcle.com also offers featured quizzes and the opportunity to make your own.  Another nice feature?  You can join quiz groups—and compete with others who are studying the same subjects as you.   

 

2. Visualization Websites

If you need to see it to believe it, check out GoConqr, a visual learning website that allows you to create visual material and connect with other visual learners on anything from mind maps, notes, quizzes, flashcards, and slides.  Another cool feature?  You can download the app to your phone.   

Prezi is another option that allows you to create and share slideshows—you can also view other slideshows on topics of interest.  Best part?  It’s free. 

Like diagrams and flowcharts?  Make your own using Gliffy, a site designed to do all of the above, with the addition of floorplans, technical drawings, Venn diagrams, and business process modeling.    

 

3. Forums

Get “credit for Reddit” at MIT in a new course that shows how social media forums are exceptional places to learn and study. 

Interested in finance, economics, and investing?  The Bogleheads allows you to search discussions and pose questions—and get real-time answers from actual people.  They offer both a forum and a wiki. 

Other social networks, like LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter also offer opportunities to interact with others on forums, groups, and wikispaces.

 

4. Online Organizers

Need a way to organize your notes so that you understand what you meant when you took them?  Have no fear, Evernote is here.  With “Remember Everything” on its welcome page, Evernote offers you a way to do just that.  Put it on your computer and download it to your phone. 

It will allow you to take fast notes on your laptop, create nested lists, and bold or italicize important terms.  What’s cool about this?  Your notes are searchable.  Remember something about a class you had last week?  Search your notes.  You probably wrote it down.

Remember those notes you used to take in the margins?  You can do the same in Evernote—think of it as a reminder.  You can hyperlink to things you might want to study later, too. 

Here’s the real kicker: those paper and pencil notes you’ve been taking?  In Evernote, you can scan them—and make them searchable.  That’s right: your handwriting is searchable in Evernote.  Live the dream.

 

5. Smart Browsing

Want to write a brilliant essay?  Learn how to browse wisely.  In the old days, this type of work meant going to the library and finding books, articles, microfilm, and microfiche—actual physical things—poring through them, and extracting the most pertinent. 

Now, the world is at your fingertips—and with all the information available to you, sometimes it’s harder to know how to search for what you really want. 

So, how do you browse wisely to write that brilliant essay?  Plan your attack.

How to browse wisely in 7 easy steps:

Step 1: Understand the question you need to answer.  Sounds simple, but it’s true.  Don’t open that browser just yet.

Step 2: Sketch out a few ideas that can help you answer that question. 

Step 3: Open that browser and read a few summaries on your topic.  Take some notes—use Evernote (see #4), or plain old notebook and pen.

Step 4: CAUTION.  Read other examples.  Don’t steal them.  Continue to take notes.

Step 5: Let ideas simmer in your brain.

Step 6: Outline your essay, adding in any other information from additional specified searches.

Step 7: Begin drafting.

Using the internet to enhance your studying can help you gain fresh perspective, find a community of peers, and give you instant access to desired information.  Used efficiently, online tools can enhance your learning and studying—so that you can be the best you can be. 

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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