Archive for the 'Education' Category

The New Presentations

May. 14th 2013

PowerPoint is dead. Long live PowerPoint.

The demise of the ubiquitous presentation tool has been predicted for a few years now. Sure, it gets the job done, but there is a whole new generation of presentation tools that do the job while making more engaging, creative, and eye-catching slides that can help you tell your story and connect with even more people. In today’s 21st century workforce, regardless of where you work: Virginia, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming, Utah, South Carolina, your resume will not be complete without them.

Going Online

With each new tablet and social network that launches, more of our interactions are happening online, from Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and Google +. According to a 2011 Pew Research Center report, half of all Americans use social media, compared to only 5% just six years prior. Given our increasingly reliance on the online world, it’s only natural that our work shifts online, too.

“As more and more of our interactions become asynchronous and globalized, the need to present information online becomes greater,” says Chiara Ojeda, an educator, blogger and speaker who blogs at Tweak Your Slides.

Enter presentations tools like SlideShare, SlideRocket, and Google Slides, which make it easy to create slides and share them online with your classmates, colleagues, or a global audience of millions. More sophisticated tools like cloud-based presentation app do away with the idea of individual slides altogether to help you make impressive, modern-looking animated presentations on a seemingly endless canvas. Along that line are video scribe tools like Doodle and PowToon, which can truly animate your ideas. Not only can these presentations become more engaging, they can help your audience understand the subject matter better. One of the most popular Prezi presentations can teach you about the theory of relativity by showing it to you in action through a nifty animated elevator.

These presenting tools are prevalent in business, as well as IT, marketing, and education, and are quickly becoming essential. Jennifer Stagner manages SEO and ecommerce sales for office supply website and regularly uses Google Docs and SlideRocket to communicate with coworkers in other parts of the country.

“I use online tools for every presentation, whether it is presenting sales analysis to our executive team, search engine optimization best practices to our content team, training presentations to our technical support team, or product solutions to our customers,” says Stagner. “As a manager of a large department I also believe that students who are familiar with online presentation tools will be more valuable to future employers.”

If you’re an undergraduate student, graduate student, or recent graduate, now is the time to learn how to learn these tools and get these increasingly valuable skills on your resume. You can use them now in your classwork or internship, and have them in your arsenal for when you enter the workforce.

“This is absolutely an important skill,” says Ojeda. “Particularly because those already established in the workforce tend to do things in the old death-by-PowerPoint style, the opportunity for young, 21st century-workers to set themselves apart by taking on the tools of 21st-century presenting is very great.”

The Online Presentations Tools You Need To Know

Because many of these presentation tools are free, you can get started learning how to use them right now and incorporate them into your own assignments. Here’s our primer to understanding the more popular online presentation tools — and how to get the most out of them:

  • Google Slides: For Google’s version of PowerPoint, check out the Google Slides section of its Google Drive cloud storage (previously known as Google Docs). Through this free online presentations app, you can create and edit presentations using pre-made templates and inserting images and videos. For more collaborative projects, you can edit the presentation with fellow students or coworkers. Once it’s ready, you can share with others via Google Drive, download as a PDF, PPT, or .txt file, or even embed onto a website.

  • SlideRocket: Like Google Slides, SlideRocket helps you make presentations online. But the website also has more sophisticated tools so you can add animations and transitions. You can also include data from real-time sources, like Twitter live feeds and Yahoo! Finance stock quotes, for an always up-to-date presentation. When you’re finished, you can publish your presentation as a URL, which you can then embed in a web page or blog or share with others. There is one caveat — this popular tool is at a bit of a crossroads. Following an acquisition by ClearSlide, a sales-based presentation platform, SlideRocket is not currently accepting new registrations for its services. So you’ll have to stay tuned to see what’s next in store.

  • SlideShare: As the name implies, SlideShare is all about sharing your work. If you made a presentation through PowerPoint, OpenOffice, or Keynote, you can upload it to this online community to share with a global audience. The free website supports a variety of documents, including PDFs, MSOffice, OpenOffice, and iWorks docs, which you can add audio to through the site. You can upload presentations publicly or privately and share on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, or embed on blogs, wikis, or websites. The site can be valuable for when you’re conducting research, too, thanks to the thousands of uploaded SlideShares covering any number of searchable subjects.

  • Prezi: One of the more advanced tools of them all, this cloud-based presentation app uses Adobe Flash to help you choreograph non-linear, dynamic presentations. Its signature rotate and zoom capability can be useful for conveying complex ideas, so it might not be best for every project. It’s free to sign up, and you start with 100 MB of cloud storage. Working in a group? You can collaborate on a prezi with others in real time. When your presentation is ready, you can share publicly or download to present offline.

  • Skitch: Visuals are key in any presentation, and this free Mac image editor app from Evernote lets you easily manipulate your images and add annotations, shapes, and sketches.

  • Keynote: When working offline, many designers prefer this Apple product to other desktop-based presentation tools like PowerPoint to make their slides. Choose from more than 25 transitions, made 3-D charts, or morph text from one slide into the next for visually stunning slides that can then be uploaded to a site like SlideShare.

The Next Generation

To some presentation gurus, even cutting-edge tools Prezi and SlideShare are already passe, and the future of presentation belongs to video scribing — a new form of visual story telling that uses whiteboard animation, stop-motion photography, or illustrations to explain a concept.

“The days of PowerPoint, Slideshare, even Prezi are not long for the world,” says Duane Siebert, founder of “People are suckers for motion, videos, more engagement, more entertainment.”

Siebert would know. He regularly creates “doodle-art” whiteboard videos using tools like, as well as YouTube videos based on PowerPoint files, effectively for his business. These video presentations can make even the most mundane topics watchable and engaging. Siebert himself will tell you that his YouTube videos have garnered more than 300,000 views on stuff as boring as toner for printers.

Some of the emerging players in this animated arena include PowToon, a free animated presentation online software tool; Sparkol VideoScribe, a subscription-based whiteboard animation tool; and Camtasia Studio, an app that turns screen recordings into video. And as is usually the case with adapting brand new technology, younger people are at an advantage.

“A huge leg up young people have on us ‘old farts’ is that they are so keenly aware of the cutting edge nature of video, what’s appealing, what is eye-catching,” says Siebert. “It is far easier for them to see the power of tools like these and come up to speed on them far faster.”

Tips for a Killer Presentation

Though the tools themselves may have evolved, what makes a great presentation indeed great still relies on three key things: content, delivery, and visual presentation. Jim Endicott, author of The Presentation Survival Skills Guide, calls this a three-legged stool, a concept that Nancy Duarte, author of slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations, expanded on more recently with her presentation ecosystem. It all boils down to this:

“A presentation is strong in three areas: content that is dynamic, real, and resonates; delivery that is natural, engaging, and connected; and slides or visuals that are design-centered and visual in approach,” says Ojeda. “Each one takes unique preparation, self-critique, the critique of others, revision, and practice. An effective presentation is one that leaves the audience wanting to take action and effectiveness doesn’t come without [these] characteristics.”

Here are some tips to help you make effective presentations, whether you’re using online tools like SlideRocket, Google Docs, SlideShare, and Prezi, or, yes, even PowerPoint:

Follow by example: There are thousands of online presentations out there, curated by design and presentation blogs. It’s likely the more popular ones will also be some of the more engage, too, so point around and learn by example to see what works. “Study great presenters, don’t just go it alone,” says Ojeda.

Be succinct: An online presentation isn’t an essay — less text is better. And better than text is an image. “You want to avoid too many words on a slide or too many slides; often you can relay the same concept with an interesting visual or infographic instead,” says Stagner.

Rehearse: If you’re in school, you’re likely not just uploading your work to sites to let it potentially go viral; you’re presenting it before a classroom. And just like any presentation, it’s important to practice and put the time into the actual presenting — not just the presentation itself. “Don’t procrastinate, prepare instead,” says Ojeda.

Getting Started Now

Becoming proficient in any or all of these online presentation tools can be a valuable addition to your resume and portfolio. And the best part is you can start now; many of these tools are free and provide tutorials to help get you on your feet. You’ll be wowing your fellow classmates, professors, and future employers in no time.

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Forecasting Higher Education

Mar. 19th 2013

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Returning Troops & the Transition Back to School

Mar. 1st 2013

President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address expressed a desire to bring home 34,000 American troops currently serving in Afghanistan over the next year; 80% of citizens agree this undertaking is necessary. Thanks to the GI Bill, the men and women returning to the United States whether it be West Virginia, Texas, Michigan, or Idaho will be able to transition into civilian life a little more smoothly, including earning secondary education.

Even before this declaration, veterans began enrolling in college and university programs in droves. The 2011 National Survey by the Department of Veterans Affairs revealed that a total of 923,836 troops took advantage of the education program’s perks. This marked an uptick from 2010’s 800,369, which also increased from 564,487 the previous year.

It stands to reason that the ones set to return over the next year will likely consider higher education an appealing option as well, filling programs offered both online and off. And with the Post-9/11 GI Bill now providing living stipends for students opting for Internet-based courses and degree programs, colleges and universities are even more accessible to veterans than they ever were before.

Why Online Really Is an Option

Jennifer Connors, Director of Military Services at George Mason University in Virginia, praises the Post-9/11 GI Bill for its comparative fluidity and for offering aspirant students more options. “[It] really does allow for transitioning veterans to choose the education path that best suits their needs. And for some of those individuals, a traditional brick-and-mortar university isn’t a pathway to success,” she said. “It’s going to be an online degree program, because those have the schedules which allow the flexibility to work full-time to support your family and pursue higher education.”

“In the military culture and environment, a lot of professional military education is done in computer-based learning modules so a significant portion of our core ancillary training requirements in the military are computer-based training modules,” Connors explained. “So I think it’s very accessible and very equivalent to what we experience in active-duty military.”

Since so many returning troops must balance spouses, children, jobs, and major life expenses, the digital classroom offers up an excellent education in the most time-efficient, cost-effective environment. Michael Voris, an admissions counselor at University of Alaska Fairbanks specializing in helping veterans transition, also believes more homecoming troops will lead to more pursuing online degrees thanks to these perks.

“When I speak with prospective active military students, their most common question is, ‘Can I complete that degree online?’ With their work schedules, very demanding jobs, and common geographical challenges, online education becomes more and more attractive, and it’s our responsibility and privilege to facilitate that,” he said.

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A Different Kind of Student

“To begin, the truth is that more than 1 million — as opposed to 34,000 — service members will leave the military over the next five years. This certainly creates an opportunity for online degree program,” said Syracuse University’s, in New York, Mike Haynie, founder and executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and a former Air Force officer.

“Veterans are non-traditional students. For example, they are more likely than their non-veteran peers to be married, have children, and also to hold down a job while going to school. For these reasons, the flexibility inherent in online programs is well-suited to the situation of many veterans,” he added. “One of the great advantages that veterans have with regard to an educational setting, is based on their dynamic and accelerated life experiences.”

But the characteristics smoothing the move from military to school still come packaged with their own drawbacks. “This also can serve to create a situation where they don’t feel like they ‘fit in’ with their non-veteran peers, whose life experiences are less robust,” cautioned Haynie. “Online learning environments serve to mitigate this challenge. Further, veterans adapt to online environments well, given the fact that military culture instills discipline and planning behaviors — attributes essential to success in an online learning environment.”

Regardless of whether or not they select an online or a traditional brick-and-mortar institution, veterans begin class with a unique set of circumstances that make transitioning a challenge.

Although Connors acknowledges that all students, regardless of their backgrounds and degree plans, grapple against motivation and balancing their lives, she does believe these to be particularly prevalent amongst returning military personnel. As a result, the concentration required to follow a degree to completion is something these students must tackle before it causes academic problems. “The degree path and the course of action a student takes define the problem,” said Connors. “For instance, at an online institution — it’s going to be persistence.”

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Transitioning to the Lifestyle of an Online Student

“I think a significant amount of veterans that are going to be transitioning out of the military are going to have responsibilities beyond that of what a traditional freshman would have,” she continued. “A lot of the online programs offer those 18-month programs, but the assumption is that it’s going to be easy. And it’s not. It’s going to be labor-intensive … especially in those more consolidated-length programs. I think that’s going to be difficult, to find that balance.”

Moving from the highly regimented situation to one with far more freedom and permissiveness also overwhelms returning troops, complicating the settling process.

“When you’re in the military, there is an instruction or a regulation or a manual for everything. There is something that tells you exactly what to do and tell you how to do it and a checklist … to ensure that you’re doing what you need to do,” said Connors. “When you’re out of the military, you don’t have that. There’s no checkbox to life so when you’re brought up and groomed in a culture that inhibits that free thinking, then that’s a big, big transition.”

Voris stresses the fiscal challenges. “Many active military members have fairly rigid work schedules while in the military, so the flexibility of then becoming a full-time college student can be both liberating and challenging,” he said. “The financial side of college can be more challenging to arrange for military and veteran students because there are more steps involved.

“Because active military and veteran students are a unique and important part of our student body, we try to treat them that way without making them feel marginalized,” he says. “Also, I think it’s important that students have an awareness of the challenges that come with completing college courses online–some students tend to think that they might be easier than traditional in-person courses.”

To Haynie, most of the problems faced by returning veterans are systemic. Both society and the institutions involved need to start caring about and addressing their unique struggles in order to create truly equitable educational spaces. “Inherent in the secondary education system in the U.S. are people, systems and processes positioned to assist college-bound, high school students to make well-informed choices with regard to the pursuit of higher-education,” he said. “Importantly, this robust infrastructure is practically inaccessible to military veterans.

“The increasingly large universe of choices available to veterans with regard to paths into higher-education, coupled with the disparate nature of the institutions participating in the GI Bill program, highlights the need for a rigorous and robust system to prepare veterans to make informed choices about how, where, and when they will leverage GI Bill benefits,” Haynie said.

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Choosing a Major

When it comes to selecting the major that works best for them, veterans utilize the exact same blend of self-analysis and formulating solid career goals as anyone else. They have unique circumstances while adjusting to online and traditional classrooms; in no way does that translate to being inherently suited to particular degree plans.

“The highest concentration [of George Mason University veterans] is in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences,” said Connors, adding that any major works just fine — especially since students taking advantage of the GI Bill must make a decision on the government’s timeline.

“We don’t have room for failure. There’s no second chances when you’re coming out of the military and into a degree plan … But you’re put in a situation where the Post-9/11 GI Bill requires you to declare a degree plan after two semesters,” described Connors. “You cannot be undeclared and use your Post-9/11 GI Bill for a long period of time. So you really have to declare a major.”

Additionally, Voris is a supporter of veteran students taking full advantage of colleges’ career services offices and academic advising centers, which can really help students narrow down their potential major of choice.

“At the end of the day, I advise students to pursue their passion – the subject that makes them want to do the work for a class — rather than choosing a program based on perceptions of future income or other factors,” Voris said.

Haynie echoed the same sentiments.

“We shouldn’t be talking about where a veteran ‘fits’ with regard to linking a particular academic major, to their military vocation. Instead, we should be giving veterans the same advice we give anyone pursing higher education; that is, pursue your passion,” he said. “Don’t let someone tell you what you should do just because it might relate to what you did in the military. While this might be one factor in the decision-making process, in the end choices related to both academic major and institution should be more holistic and motivated by future-focused goals and aspirations, as opposed to singularly tied to their military experience.”

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Vow to Hire Heroes Act

Initiatives such as the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 might impact the major-related decisions of veteran students between the ages of 35 and 60. This legislation targets unemployed former military personnel desiring an associate’s degree or non-credit certification, paying for a year of community college or technical school. But training must lead them towards a career in one of 211 most-needed positions and industries, like construction management, electrician, and more. Vow to Hire Heroes may not influence the degree plan choices of most veterans, but the promise of tuition reimbursement and jobs after completing a program could push some undecided students towards pursuing particular majors and career paths.

Shifting between the heavily regimented military lifestyle to the relatively freeform college and university environment can be incredibly jarring to returning veterans. Regardless of whether or not they elect for an online or offline degree, they experience stressors their peers could never fathom. Schools need to start paying attention to what these students require and take pains to ensure the transition occurs as smoothly as possible.

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Caffeinated Nation

Feb. 25th 2013

People in the US regardless of where it is: Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, consume a lot of caffeine—80% of us have some sort of caffeinated beverage every day. Everybody has their own caffeine-loaded drink of choice, from double lattes to ice-cold cola to strong-brewed green tea. More and more, however, people (and especially young people) are turning to less healthy caffeine options, like chemical-loaded energy drinks. While energy drinks aren’t always inherently bad, studies show that more and more people are using them in excess, often drinking many a day in order to stay awake and alert—and the effects can take a serious toll. Energy drinks are loaded with caffeine, much like coffee or many sodas, but energy drinks are also often chock-full of other energy-giving, unhealthy substances. Among students, energy drinks are being consumed at heightened rates in unhealthy qualities, and in tandem with this, hospitalizations and even deaths related to energy drink consumption have seen a considerable uptick in recent years. While an occasional energy drink for most healthy people is harmless, when energy drinks are consumed at high volumes, and when they’re paired with alcohol, the risks become much higher. The following infographic takes a look at how the energy drink market has grown, and what some of the health impacts of this could be for those who consume them.

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Caffeinated Nation Infographic

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Studying Abroad in America

Jan. 9th 2013

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Online Education: Non-Profits Fight Back?

Dec. 13th 2012

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College Certificate On Your iPad

Oct. 24th 2012

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Social Media Guidelines for Students and Job Seekers

Oct. 4th 2012

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52 Back-to-School Tricks That Google Wants You to Know

Sep. 19th 2012

You’re finally getting into the swing of your new back-to-school schedule, and the No. 1 tool for today’s students isn’t a backpack, pencil, or paper: it’s Google. With seemingly endless tools, uses, and resources, Google is a virtual powerhouse for all things learning. Of course, Google’s even better if you know how to step beyond the simple search box and take advantage of everything the search giant has to offer. That’s why we’re highlighting 52 different tricks that you can use this back-to-school season, whether you’re heading off to college or getting started on your online degree.

DIY Orientation

Curious about your campus? Find out the real deal with these Google tricks.

  1. Check out your campus with Street View: Get familiar with your campus from the comfort of your dorm room by checking it all out on Google’s Street View maps.
  2. Find out what’s great on campus: Use Google Places to discover and read ratings about coffee shops, book stores, and other great places to check out around campus.
  3. Check out the weather: Find out what the weather’s like in your college town by simply typing weather, plus the city and state or zip code into Google’s search bar.

Social, Groups & Collaboration

In recent years, Google has introduced lots of great tools for interaction and collaboration, including Google Docs and Google Hangouts. These tricks will help you make the most of Google’s social tools.

  1. Plan club meetings: Planning a back-to-school meeting for your club? Video chat with up to nine of your members to discuss what it’s all about.
  2. Plan events efficiently: Use Google+ Events to invite friends with a personalized video greeting, and even upload photos during the event with Party Mode.
  3. Share your schedule: Let your buddies know your class schedule and what you’re up to by sharing your Google Calendar.
  4. Keep everyone in the loop: Use Google+ to organize your friends and bring them all into the conversation together.
  5. Create forms for your group: Using Google forms, you can quickly gather information from club and group members.
  6. Put sticky notes in your Hangouts: With the Symphonical app, you can add sticky notes for group scribbles.
  7. Plan study group meetings: Create a shared Google Calendar for your study group to plan your meeting schedule efficiently.
  8. Create shared folders with Google Drive: Make group project materials easy to access with Google Drive’s shared folders.
  9. Keep your groups together: Organize meetings, social events, and more with Google Groups’ private email lists.

Efficiency & Time Management

Use these great tricks from Google to stay on top of every assignment and commitment.

  1. Become a better searcher: Try these Google search challenges to test and improve your search skills.
  2. Get organized with Google Calendar: Juggle your classes, assignments, extracurriculars, and social life with ease by organizing all of your commitments on Google Calendar.
  3. Never be late for class: Download the doubleTwist Alarm Clock from Google Play and you’ll be sure to wake up on time.
  4. Plan your day with Google Now: Using Google Now, you can get the right information at the right time, like traffic conditions before class and game times for your favorite college team.
  5. Import class syllabi: With Google Docs and Calendar, you can import your class syllabi, so you’ll always be on top of your assignments and readings.
  6. Stay on task: Download the Chrome extension to get organized and remember to get everything done, whether it’s running errands or finishing your term paper.
  7. Take notes in Google Docs with your pen: Using Livescribe pens, you can take notes that go straight to Google Docs.
  8. Read back-to-school issues online: Check out Google Play’s collection of back-to-school magazine issues to get caught up on the latest looks and ideas this fall.
  9. Find the right words: Look up synonyms, dictionary definitions, even check your spelling, right from Google’s search box.
  10. Fly though your inbox: Use Gmail’s priority inbox to automatically identify your most important email.
  11. Print anything anywhere: On Google Drive, you can send just about any file to FedEx to be printed using your laptop or even your phone.
  12. Stay focused with Chrome: Google’s Chrome browser offers an add-on that will help you stay focused and on track, blocking websites that tend to eat up your attention.
  13. Track care packages: If you’ve got something special coming from home, stay on top of its arrival by typing your tracking code into the Google search bar.
  14. Read on the go: Using the SoundGecko extension on Google Chrome, you can listen to articles on the go, saving time and making your commute more productive.
  15. Wage war on inbox spam: Use Gmail’s auto-unsubscribe feature to rid your inbox of mailing lists and newsletters you’re no longer interested in.

Travel & Mapping

A long way from home? Don’t worry, Google’s got your back. Find out where everything is and how to get there with these mapping tricks from Google.

  1. Find your way around the mall: Conquer your back-to-school shopping list with indoor Google Maps available for malls and department stores.
  2. Find a flight home: Homesick already? Get connected with your next flight home using Google’s Flight Search.
  3. Find a place to live: Search for an apartment or house to rent in your college town with the super slick PadMapper app for Chrome.
  4. Find out what time it is at home: See the current time in any city in the world by typing time and the name of the city into Google’s search bar.

Learning & Research

Search is still Google’s best trick, and these tips will help you make the most of Google’s capacity for learning and research.

  1. Learn about your professors: Google offers extensive people profiles, especially for individuals who are on Google+. Type the name of your professor or new classmate into Google to find their profile and learn more about them.
  2. Learn anything: YouTube EDU is full of endless resources for learning, from English lessons to real-life math.
  3. Find credible resources: Search with Google Scholar to find and cite scholarly literature including journals, books, and abstracts.
  4. Create your own flash cards: Use Chrome’s FlashCards extension to learn languages faster, prep for exams, and even entertain yourself with fun trivia.
  5. Do research inside Google Docs: With a handy research pane, you can add useful information like quotes, statistics, and expert opinions without even leaving Google Documents.
  6. Track down rare books: Use Google’s Book Search to get access to hard-to-find books, whether it’s online or at your local library.
  7. Make Google do the math for you: Google search offers a calculator function, so you can type any equation into Google’s search box and get an answer.
  8. Create graphs with Google, too: For advanced math users, Google has a graphing functionality. Just plot mathematical functions into the search bar, and you’ll get an interactive graph.
  9. Download educational apps: Turn your Google Chrome browser into an educational powerhouse with loads of education apps available in the Chrome Web Store.
  10. Explore cool tools in Google Earth: Find the path of Lewis and Clark, places quoted in Shakespeare, even National Geographic content through Google Earth tools.
  11. Become a Google Intern: Have you always dreamed of working for Google? Get a taste as a Google BOLD intern.
  12. Find public data: Public data is quickly available at your fingertips through Google search. Just type in “population” or “unemployment rate” plus a state or county to find the information.
  13. Get a Google dictionary: Add the Google Dictionary app to your Chrome web browser, and you can view definitions without even leaving the page.
  14. Find millions of free books: Check out Google Play where you can find millions of free books, including classic novels like Pride and Prejudice and Gulliver’s Travels.
  15. Use a Chromebook for class: A super streamlined option for education, the Google Chromebook is a fast laptop with thousands of apps, automatic updates, virus protection, and cloud backup.
  16. Manage shared expenses: Chances are, you’re living with a roommate in college, and you may have some shared expenses. Manage them all in a Google Docs spreadsheet to make sure everyone’s in the loop.
  17. Choose your college major: Still trying to nail down what you want to do in school? Use the MyMajors app on Google Play to get matched with the best course of study for you.

Health & Safety

Stay healthy on campus with these health and safety tricks from Google.

  1. Avoid the Freshman 15: Download the Diet Diary to your Chrome browser to track your exercise, calories, and water, and keep the Freshman 15 at bay.
  2. Set a ring schedule with Google Voice: Embarrassed by your phone going off during class? You can set up a custom ring schedule so that your phone only rings during certain times or days of the week.
  3. Look up health conditions: Enter a common disease or symptom into Google’s search box to get an expert summary.
  4. Find back-to-school immunizations: Get protected against meningitis, HPV, and more with back-to-school immunizations, and find out where to get them with Google Maps.
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The 50 Best Free Educational Apps from Google Play

Sep. 18th 2012

Don’t look now, iPhone Kool-Aid drinkers, but Androids are taking over. iTunes had a good run, but now is the time of Google Play, Android’s home for more than 600,000 apps. To help ease the transition back to school, we’ve combed through the pile to find the best educational choices, for everyone from Mother’s Day Out attendees to college seniors, to rock on a Galaxy, Nexus, or Droid.


  1. Kids Numbers and Math Lite: Educational game maker Intellijoy offers this free game to effectively teach preschoolers numbers, addition, subtraction, and more without sensory overload.
  2. AniWorld: We had animal See ‘n Say games as kids. Your kids get this app, which lets them pet, feed, see, and hear 36 different animals through 250 pictures.
  3. Kids ABC Letters Lite: Another offering from Intellijoy, Kids ABC teaches forming and identifying letters to children aged 2-7. The downside is parents may have trouble getting their phones back again.
  4. Learning Letters for Kids: This straightforward app for teaching kids the alphabet is a breath of fresh air: no permissions are required from the developer to function.
  5. Kids & Toddler Puzzle Puzzingo: A BestAppsForKids award winner, Puzzingo is an addictive yet educational game to engage the mind of your toddler with 25 professionally illustrated puzzles.
  6. Kids Pedia – Color Magician: Kids Pedia packs in language learning, science, geography, art, math, health, and more, with games designed by professional educators.
  7. Kids Piano Lite: Don’t neglect your child’s music education. This app reproduces those little toy xylophones in the bright colors kids love.
  8. 123s ABCs Handwriting Fun: Children learn basic handwriting by tracing letters, hearing them spoken, then shaking the screen to erase and repeat.
  9. Pepi Bath Lite: It’s never too early to start teaching your toddler hygiene education, and this app is a great tool for that.
  10. 0-10 Numbers Baby Flash Cards: Toddlers might as well get used to studying with flashcards. This app uses them to teach them the first 11 numbers.

Elementary and Middle School

  1. Brain Café – GeoQuiz: With a beautiful interface and strong database of questions, GeoQuiz is a great program for testing young learners’ knowledge of global geography.
  2. Kids Paint Free: Allow your young Picassos to flourish their artistic side with this fan-favorite app.
  3. iStoryBooks: Kids ages 2-8 can read their own books on dinosaurs, animals, fruits and vegetables, and more, or let narrator Maya read to them as they follow along.
  4. Alchemy – Genetics: Kids strengthen their logic and critical thinking skills playing this game that turns players into gene researchers combining different animals into new species.
  5. ASL American Sign Language: The easiest time to learn languages is in childhood. Use this free app from to teach your kids to sign.
  6. Sky Map: Google has gone ahead and mapped all of space for your convenience. Just crank up the app, point your camera to the heavens, and enjoy.
  7. US History Quiz: Lord knows Americans’ knowledge of our own history is embarrassing. Help your kids be part of the solution by installing this free app.
  8. 100 Top World Wonders: Kiddos learn about the biggest, longest, tallest, fastest, and most dangerous things in the world with this free app.
  9. Periodic Table: Don’t let the name fool you. This is a periodic table for the 21st century, with interactive elements that can be clicked to see more than 30 facts each, audio clips, and a quiz mode.
  10. Classic Simon: Let your kids in on the simple joy that was the Simon Says toy with this app that improves memory. We mean it: let them have a turn.

High school and College

  1. WordPrep Flashcards GRE / CAT: If the GRE is in your near future or you simply want to expand your vocabulary, WordPrep Flashcards is one of your best free options in Google Play.
  2. Gamma Ray Calculator: Forget the slide rule. When you find yourself in need in physics class, whip out your smartphone and fire up this free app.
  3. Speed Anatomy Quiz: Flashcards will forever pale in comparison once you’ve tested your knowledge of the human body by poking away at it with this app.
  4. Formulas Lite: All the major formulas you need for math, chemistry, and physics are right here for free download.
  5. Learn Spanish with!: The free app from the popular language learning site is an excellent resource for building a solid foundation in a number of languages, Spanish included.
  6. LHSee: There has been big news in the search for the “God Particle” lately. Don’t miss a thing thanks to this app that refers to work with Large Hadron Colliders.
  7. Virtual SAT Tutor – Writing: Tutoring company Ivy Standard created this app for improving your writing skills for the SAT through in-depth tips and questions modeled after the real thing.
  8. Fooducate – Healthy Food Diet: Take charge of your food education with this app that lets you scan product barcodes and see nutrition info and ideas for healthier alternatives.
  9. Mathway: With this app you don’t even need a data connection to access thousands of answers to pre-algebra, pre-cal can calculus, trig, and statistics.
  10. Learn Guitar Chords: Learn to shred while your guitar is home in its case with this app, which teaches you the most commonly used chords. Master three cords and you’re qualified to play in Nickelback.
  11. IELTS Writing Model Answers: International students will love the practice and instruction they get from this writing app.

Class Help and Study Aids

  1. Andie Graph: Want to save $90? Thought so. Do yourself a favor and download this app that’s an emulator for TI-82, -83, -85, and -86 calculators. You’re welcome.
  2. Aldiko Book Reader: Never be caught in class without your reading materials again, thanks to this customizable and user-friendly e-reader.
  3. Studyblue Flashcards: The wide range of features like card search, offline mode, reminders, and progress save make this flashcard app one of our faves in Google Play.
  4. MyScript Calculator: This is a really cool app that lets you write out math equations in your own handwriting and get answers in real time. It’s intuitive and natural and even lets you scratch out mistakes.
  5. Speed Reading Trainer: Use this app to tweak your reading ability to cut down your reading times while maintaining comprehension.
  6. Blackboard Mobile Learn: It doesn’t work for all carriers, but if yours is covered you’ve got mobile access to all your assignments, grades , and other info for classes using the site.
  7. Study Checker: This app automatically keeps track of your study and break times and lets you view your stats over a day, week, or month.
  8. Edmodo: Stay connected and share information with your classmates and teachers wherever you are with Edmodo, “the Facebook of education.”
  9. School Timetable Deluxe: It’s not often a “deluxe” model comes free, but it does here with this highly rated app for organizing homework assignments, exams, and grades all into one place.
  10. Dictionary – Merriam-Webster: It’s ad-supported but you can search by voice, find synonyms and antonyms, read a Word of the Day, and more, all while offline.
  11. SparkNotes: Since we know you’d never read crib notes in place of an assigned book, we’re happy to recommend this app to supplement your reading.

Educational Organizations

  1. NASA App: If you’ve got a little astronaut on your hands, this app connects you with incredible images and videos, mission info, and more courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
  2. TED: All the ideas worth spreading come to your Android phone so you can broaden your horizons and have your mind stretched anywhere you have a signal.
  3. Common Core: The kids won’t care, but parents and teachers will appreciate being able to see all the common core standards for every grade from K-12.
  4. Khan Academy Player: This unofficial app is a successful complement to the hugely popular, free educational video site that lets you watch that physics lesson or math tutorial offline.
  5. Science News Lite: Stay informed on all things STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) with this app form the website.
  6. National Geographic: Throw out all those old copies of the magazine and install this (unofficial) app for exploring the world with the help of this storied institution.
  7. Here’s your unofficial window into the home of the highest office in the land and everything that goes on there.
  8. Open University News: Find articles, videos, and tweets that keep you up-to-speed on all the open education goings-on from OU.
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