Updated: Feb 26, 2021
Most students this year are doing remote learning and many say that it is a struggle for students, teachers, and parents alike. Fortunately, we have all kinds of new technology to help us through these unprecedented times. For instance, there are many education apps that you can download right on your phone or iPad. There is also a wealth of free resources on the Internet, which we will review later in this article. Here is the full list of top tools that I recommend students use to support and really enrich their remote learning experience.
1. A good daily and weekly routine. This isn't a fancy online tool or app. However, creating and sticking to a study routine is crucial, especially when we are all stuck at home. The days may seem to blur together, and it’s even harder now to keep track of which day of the week it is. To stay motivated and know exactly what you should be working on each day, establish a good routine. Commit to it by using tool #2...
2. A planner. This can be either digital or on paper. I highly recommend a physical planner because it will be sitting on your desk right in front of you all the time. It makes checking your planner effortless. After all, what good is a planner if we don’t actually check it to see our daily tasks and due dates? If you are looking for a good, affordable planner, Target has a great variety of options.
3. Free online learning websites. One of the first websites that probably comes to mind is Khan Academy. Khan Academy is definitely a great free resource with very detailed articles, diagrams, and short videos explaining key concepts. It is particularly good for studying high school biology and math. Here are some other great study websites I recommend:
Lumen Learning. It’s a great website for both biology and chemistry
ThoughtCo. They have clear and concise explanations for very specific vocabulary terms and concepts (e.g., “adaptive radiation”)
4. Online virtual labs and simulations. I love showing these to my students in class when introducing a new concept. These online simulations are especially helpful during these COVID times, since most students aren’t able to complete real labs in class. My two go-to websites are PhET and CK-12. For the latter, you do need to create a free account. CK-12 has simulations for chemistry and physics, while PhET has simulations for biology and chemistry. Here is an example simulation for gas laws from PhET.
5. Apps! Mobile apps are great for more interactive learning and self-quizzing. I recommend these three apps:
One of my favorites is Quizlet, which I actually also used back in college for some of those memorization-heavy classes. It’s an online flashcards generator. You can either find flashcard sets created by other students, or create your own from scratch. Then, you quiz yourself within the platform using those cards. Quizlet has both a web-based version and a mobile app. I’ve used both and they both work well.
Another app I recommend is Socratic, which is a convenient and interactive learning platform. You can choose from many different subjects, including high school biology and chemistry. You ask it a question about a particular subject and it will pull up the relevant articles and answers for you. The app is actually created by Google, so it's not a surprise that it does a great job of getting the best and most relevant answers for you!
The third app I highly recommend for iPad/Apple pencil users is Notability. It is a note-taking app that works just like a normal notebook. It’s very well designed, allowing you to take notes, color-code things, and draw diagrams effortlessly. It allows students to actually enjoy taking notes and reviewing them! This is the app I use to draw diagrams and explain concepts to my students in classas well. You can also export notes as PDFs and send them to classmates or print them. Tip: you can also screenshot articles or diagrams you found online, add them as an image to your Notability page, and annotate over them. It’s a very effective way to study science and other subjects.
6. This next tool is one that everyone is familiar with -- Youtube. Youtube isn’t just good for watching funny dog videos and League of Legends games, it has great educational videos too. There are certain processes in biology and chemistry that are much better understood when we see them in action, rather than a static diagram. Youtube is great for watching such videos. My favorite channels are Amoeba Sisters for biology and Crash Course for chemistry. Both channels have such engaging and memorable videos. They explain concepts in digestible, short pieces.
7. The last tool that I suggest is Google Drive, especially for remote learning when everything has moved online. Your school is likely already using Google Drive and Classroom. It is a great tool for storing and organizing all your schoolwork and other files. The advantage of using Drive is that all your files will be accessible no matter which device you are working from, and it’s much easier to collaborate with others. It’s also very easy for teachers to share files with students, which is why it’s so popular among schools.
Remember that despite having all these options for study tools, nothing beats the effectiveness of sticking to a routine and putting in the hard work each week when it comes to learning. I’m sure there are other great tools as well that I have not included on this list. If you have any recommendations, please share them below!