7 Awesome iPad Apps For Students

First we had the iPod and it caused a cultural revolution – those white ear buds sold it more than anything else. Apple was quick off the mark to follow with the iPhone which again caused waves in the cell phone market because of its capabilities and mass appeal. Finally Apple has made the vision of Arthur C. Clark come to fruition with the advent of the iPad – a personal handheld computer with a touch screen interface. Apple doesn’t just enter into a market – it creates the market in the first place.

And the iPad has found a special place in the hearts of students all over the world. Why? First off the form factor of it means they’re not having to lug around heavy laptops all the time when they need just basic note taking and web browsing functions. And of course there’s the coolness factor that comes with an iPad – if you don’t have one then you definitely want one. It’s really that simple.
But are there any apps that can really and truly benefit students in their studies and in their scholastic and personal lives?

Image Credit: Cristiano Betta

Well the 10,000,000+ iPad owners seem to think so and this is the list we sent to the students at the MA in political science program I work for.

iStudiez Pro ($2.99)

This award-winning app is the best possible way to schedule all of your classes, all your assignments, labs and homework all in one easy-to-use interface. So each day you know exactly what’s ahead of you in school or college and you have future reminders for any work that’s due in. Last but not least you can backup all your schedules to an e-mail account with the push of a button.

BigWords (Free)

Looking for a specific textbook at a specific price? That’s where BigWords comes in allowing you to search the BigWords price comparison database for the best prices on the books you need for your course. Basically you can make sure you’re getting the best possible deal when buying textbooks.


How would you like to get access to over 100,000 periodicals and books and read them directly on your iPhone? It’s like having your own personal, portable library that you can access 24/7/365. One million other iPad users think it’s a useful app.

Convert ($2.99)

You’ll never have to remember conversion ratios ever again – this neat little app does all the work for you. The simple interface allows you to convert units of anything to anything else you want plus it has its own calculator function built in so you don’t need to launch the iPad calculator app separately.

New Oxford American Dictionary ($29.99)

Put more than 350,000 words and phrases at your disposal with this “must have” iPad app. For your money you also get 60,000 audio pronunciations but you will need a Wi-Fi connection for this to work. Almost $30 might seem expensive but remember that the standard New Oxford American Dictionary costs around $60 for the paper version.

Evernote (Free)

Anything you can think of taking a note of – text, pictures or even voice notes can all be handled by Evernote. Then all this information can be synced to a central account so you never lose track of anything you’ve taken a note of. Very easy-to-use and you’ll be amazed at how often you use it.

SimpleMind (Free)

Mind mapping tools aren’t something that are popular with a lot of students because they’re seen as being hard work but SimpleMind allows you to get your head around using mind mapping for when you need to brainstorm out an idea or project. Once you get used to using mind maps you’ll never want to use anything else to plan your projects.

Now you have 7 incredible apps that you can use during the coming academic year to up your scholastic game and make the most of your study time. The more efficiently you study the more personal time you’ll have as a result.

This guest post is by Lior Levin, who is a student, a blogger and an online consultant to a task management tool company and few others.

New Tech Toys for your Blog or Browser and iPhone

Some new products were announced recently that bloggers and gadget-geeks will want to check out. The first is from Apture and the second is from Instagram.

For Your Blog or Browser

Apture has been around for a while. It is an in-page search technology that lets you highlight a word on a web page and get search results about the highlighted selection.

There is a Firefox Apture plugin that enables you to use Apture anywhere on any page you see in Firefox. Here’s how it looks. I highlighted the word Gawker in a BlogHer page I was reading in Firefox.


I clicked Learn More and this window appeared.


If you follow any of the links, they are shown in a window over your current page, which you read and close without ever leaving the page you are on. No more opening a special tab for a Google search when you have this installed in your browser.

Apture made news when it announced it will be used inside a publishing tool called Scribd. This is not Apture’s first partnership. It’s already in use in places like The Reader’s Digest and The Wall Street Journal. Scribd specializes in what it calls social publishing. Just about any kind of document you can think of can be published there by members. Once published, documents can be read on the web, in a mobile device or an e-reader. Documents published by Scribd can be shared on Facebook or Twitter or embedded in a blog page.

Here’s part of Apture’s announcement:

Apture Highlights will be integrated across Scribd.com, the largest online social reading and publishing site in the world. This will empower readers to explore multimedia about what they are reading by simply highlighting text – creating a new kind of enhanced multi-media reading experience in documents, made possible by Scribd’s unique HTML5 technology.

Scobleizer called the teaming up of Apture and Scribd the beginning of a “more usable web.”

You can install an Apture plugin in your WordPress blog, so that your readers can find relevant content without ever leaving your page no matter whether they have the Firefox addon or not. With the Apture plugin installed in WordPress, there are two new buttons added to your editing window. One for making hyperlinks and other for embedding content. Apture searches for references, video, images, audio, maps, news, people or other content that can be added to your post.

Kim Pearson used embedded video in Remembering Paul Robeson. She used Apture to embed documents in Distributed Expertise in Enhancing Computing Education With Connections to the Arts. You can see a couple of images of gadgets I found with the Apture plug in for WordPress on Web Teacher. With Apture, you are able to embed interesting content in your site to keep people around longer.

One thing to look out for: if you install the Firefox extension, the WordPress plug in may not work right. This is temporary. I had a problem with the plugin and wrote to Apture support, who answered almost immediately (wow!) and told me to disable the Firefox extension for a few days until they fix the bug.

For Your iPhone

The new toy for your phone is Instagram. It’s a free app that makes publishing the photos from your iPhone easier.

Before Instagram, to send a photo from my phone I had to take the photo and then open some other app like Twitter to post it where I wanted it. With Instagram, as soon as I take a photo with the app, it shoots out to either Facebook, Twitter or Flickr – or all three at once – depending on how I set it up.

Here’s how Instagram does a tweet. The image is sent to an Instagram page.

That Instagram image becomes part of a rotating display of images rather like what you see on Flickr when you click the explore button. It is public to everyone. Naturally, you can set up a list of people whose images you want to watch on Instagram; a friends list, if you will.

If you send it to Flickr, the image becomes one more item in your Flickr stream, not an image on the Instagram site. With Facebook, the image goes into your photos there.

More Resources

Cross-posted at BlogHer.

PostRank tracks reader engagement metrics

PostRank is the third and final look at web analytics tools in this series. In the past couple of weeks, we’ve also had a look at Google Analytics and Woopra. PostRank offers more services than just analytics, but this post will only examine the web metrics aspect of what they do.

The service isn’t free, but you can get a 30 day free trial before you make a lasting committment to it. PostRank can be integrated with Google Analytics to give you an overall look at all your metrics. On its own, PostRank measures what the site calls “social engagement.” Because of that, PostRank is considered especially useful for bloggers.

A few of the engagement sources PostRank follows

Social engagement includes just about everything that happens around your blog posts. A comment, a tweet, a track back, a mention on Blip or Jaiku—that sort of activity is what gets tracked. You see a few of the sites PostRank watches in the graphic. (There are more.) All that data is put into an “engagement score” based on engagement points and shown to you in a graphic that charts your site’s engagement. PostRank tracks what it calls “the best blogs” based on reader engagement.

You don’t have to install anything on your site. You simply sign up with PostRank and they start tracking. In fact, you can enter your URL in a form to get a preview of your site’s PostRank information. You can follow more than one site. Each day, you get an email report on each site but, of course, you can look at what’s happening at anytime during the day and see real time results.

Reviewer comments

Christina Warren at Mashable in PostRank Combines Google Analytics With Social Media Stats said,

The really cool part about PostRank Analytics comes when you evaluate individual blog entries. Not only can you see your total page views, unique visitors, bounce rate and average time on the post for each entry — you can also see how many people have tweeted about the post, how many comments it received, if there are any FriendFeed or Reddit reactions, was it re-posted on Tumblr, etc.

Sarah Worsham at Sazbean wrote Review: PostRank Analytics and concluded,

I’ve had the PostRank plug-in [ed: info on the WordPress plug-in below] installed for awhile and use it to see how individual posts are doing as well as see what the top posts are. PostRank Analytics is a paid service ($9/mo or $99/year) which integrates with Google Analytics to provide an overall picture of how well your audience is engaging with your content. I decided to give it a try to see what type information it was able to provide that I wasn’t getting through the plug-in.  . . .

I’m simply not impressed enough with the available information to be worth $9/mo (and I was really willing to shell that out if the data was useful). My main issue is the inconsistency in interactions/engagement. If that’s not accurate, then most of the information is available to me for free through the plugin and Google Analytics. If they’re able to fix the problem, I may give it a try again – there really isn’t single place to measure engagement otherwise.

At Who’s the Mummy? in PostRank for the rest of us the conclusion is,

For the vast majority of bloggers, no blog stats truly ‘matter’. But if you’re interesting in maximising your audience or audience participation, it’s always useful to understand what content really strikes a chord with your readers. With PostRank you can easily see by looking at scores, which posts are most likely to resonate. But also, if you can see you are getting all your engagement points from Twitter but nothing from Facebook, is there a way to make it easier for people to share your content on Facebook? Do you need to make it easier for people to add content to Digg? Is your engagement generally increasing or decreasing over time?

This is information that many, many bloggers won’t care about – and there’s no particular reason to worry. But if you are looking to monetise a blog (and Lord knows, there’s nothing wrong with that even if we are officially no longer in a recession) then understanding your audience better is generally a good thing.

Simon Mackie at Web Worker Daily wrote an early review of PostRank in Track Engagement With PostRank Analytics. This article gives some useful step by step directions for using the tool. He said,

I’m adding PostRank Analytics to my toolbox, because it provides data that’s not available elsewhere.

PostRank Resources

Useful Links: Peer to Peer, Bill Gates, EVs

Needed: Peer to Peer Twitter (or did Google get it backwards?) at Rare Pattern raises some interesting questions.

Bill Gates: The Most Important Climate Speech of the Year is a TED Talks reported on at WorldChanging. Here’s a teaser. I don’t see the video on TED.com yet.

. . . he acknowledged the only sensible goal, when it comes to climate emissions, is to eliminate them: we should be aiming for a civilization that produces no net emissions, and we should be aiming to live in that civilization here in the developed world by 2050.

Obviously, that’s a big goal. Because he is the world’s biggest geek, to explain how he plans to achieve that goal, Gates put up a slide with a formula (which we can call the Gates Climate Equation):

CO2 = P x S x E x C

While were on the energy and environment, check out New Material Could Act as Both Battery and Body of EVs. That’s some cool technology.

Video from Standards and Accessibility with Dreamweaver

The video of Emily Lewis and I co-presenting about accessibility and standards in Dreamweaver is now on Viddler.

You can see that we meet in the back room of an Albuquerque bar for the Webuquerque meets, so it’s noisy and a bit dark.

Related posts: Standards and Accessibility with Dreamweaver, where you will find a link to the slides for Emily’s part of the talk.