Moving Online: Some Useful Gadgets and Software

The pandemic outbreak has forced a sudden shift (I would not call it an “upgrade”) to technology in academia, leaving all of us in confusion. As an educator who had focussed on similar issues, here are some useful gadgets and software you can use to leverage the best of the change.

Reading and Books

Kindle e-Reader

Kindle Basic

(Click on the image to buy)

Kindle PaperWhite

(Click on the image to buy)

As an educator, I was troubled by the need to carry heavy books between classes. Kindle was the perfect solution. That’s for 3-4 papers a semester, imagine the students’ trouble carrying books for 5-7 subjects a semester!

Note that Kindle is not a substitute for a tablet, it’s an eBook reader. Kindle allows books, PDF and basic browsing, and nothing more. Helping you focus more on studies, unlike tablets.

Fact that production has halted across the globe for printed books like many other commodities, there’s mostly going to be a shortage of books as well as a surge in the price of printed books in coming days. Kindle edition prices of most books are half of the printed books many times and that makes it a worthy investment in the long term. In case a book you want is not available in the Kindle Store, you can alternatively load PDF (almost all textbooks in school level are available as PDF these days) or ePubs by connecting it to computers.

Though for a student, Kindle Basic is all that’s needed, Kindle Paperwhite is recommended for a student inclined to science, due to higher display resolution, and since many science-related books are only available as PDF (Science books have advanced typesetting requirements compared to normal books).

Mobile Phones

Here are some mobile phone suggestions, criteria for selection are:

  1. Value for money
  2. Software dependability (Some may have small glitches)
  3. Update Assurances
  4. Company and after-sales service quality
  5. For the use of education, for a student of the eductor.
< Rs 10,000
Rs. 10,000-Rs. 15,000

or use this link to explore more phones in this price range, as they become available.

Note that this article was written in June 2020, new models may have released since then. I’ve only included the models which are available now, some of them are out of stock since productions stopped due to lockdown.

Cellphone Stands

Holding your phone in your hand for a long time while watching videos could lead to health hazards. Here are two cheap yet durable and good quality cellphone stands:

Or explore more options.

Apps and Games

Planning and Avoiding Distractions

Forest (iOS/Android) – Website

Forest is simple – tap “plant” and they would plant a virtual tree, helping you focus on your work, and be less distracted by other things. This app helps “Gamify” cellphone de-addiction or your attempt to avoid distractions while working. If you would like to exclude some apps, you can also buy the Pro version for Rs. 170 – I’ve bought it and never turned back.

WaterDo (iOS/Android) – Website

Another app from the makers of Forest App, Seekrtech which gamify To-do. Pro version extends features at Rs. 140. It has many features that almost all to-do apps lack, like location-based reminders, rewards if you finish your task – the list goes on! Give it a shot!

Learning

Language

  • Duolingo (Has many courses including Hindi from English, English from Hindi, and full-fledged courses for many European languages). It gamifies learning. I have done three courses with Duo, and even my niece (6years old) picked up one of two things in German, using Duolingo).
    Click here to download
  • Memrise is the nearest alternative to Duolingo, though a bit bland.
  • Knudge.me: Faithful follower since I started using it in November. It adapts a bit to your knowledge level, and gamify learning – built on solid research and scientific approach to teaching. Useful to develop a solid vocabulary, grammar as well as for exam preparations. Pro version has its advantages, for Rs. 420.
    Click here to download.
  • GuteBooks and LibriVox: A browser for books in Project Gutenberg and LibriVox, a free audiobook library.
  • Dictionary.com: Dictionary.com has a very useful app that lets you search in-app. The most attractive feature now is that Power Pack, which originally costs Rs. 1700 is available for Rs. 320 now. PowerPack has many useful, handy tools.

Mathematics and Science

  • Google Science Journal: Lets you take notes, measurements using your phone.
  • King of Math: Helps you develop your mental arithmetic skills.
  • Google SkyMap: A useful tool for students interested in astronomy.
  • SmartTools: A set of tools, to use your device sensors for measurement and other tasks.
  • GeoGebra: A powerful graphing tool. There’s a huge collection of pre-made classroom resources (link) worth exploring – will aid the teacher as well as students.

For more information/other help choosing products in Amazon, you can get in touch with jesse.

This list is not exhaustive. I will keep updating this list as time permits/I come across good tools.

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