We are counting down the days left before school starts. Before you know it, the fresh backpacks will be filled with school supplies and shoes lined up at the door for the much anticipated first day of school.
Whether your child is just starting or nearing the end of his/her school career we have some tips on how best to leverage social media and apps to make school a breeze this year.
Top 3 social media tips for back to school
- Familiarize yourself with your school’s social media policy. Most schools hand out a copy at the beginning of the year and students sign it. Read it, know it, and keep a copy handy.
- Check your privacy settings. Who can view your pictures? Who can tag you in pictures? On Facebook and Instagram, check to see if your photos are public or private–and if you don’t like the current setting change it to one that makes you more comfortable. More on how to do this here.
- Think about your digital footprint. This means parents too. Before you post about your child on social media think about how your post could affect your child’s privacy and ongoing digital legacy online. For children and teens, think about what you post and if you’re not comfortable with something that is happening online take it to an adult.
Best apps for school this year
We love apps. Apps can organize your life and make it easier to share, collaborate, research, and learn online. Here are our top picks for school-aged kids and parents this year.
- Cozi. If your house is like mine with kids in multiple activities, business travel for you and your spouse, and evening events or sporting activities, Cozi will be a lifesaver. Each year, we get a calendar of events from the school and I import that calendar to my phone where my husband and I share a Cozi account. It is the BEST. Do it. Trust me. Yes, even kids should use it. It can sync with anyone in the family plan, give you a reminder (multiple reminders in the paid version), and will sync with your iCal or Google calendar. Items are colour-coded for ease of use. Cost: FREE (paid version available too)
- Evernote. Perfect for students — you can take notes, make to-do lists, set reminders, attach files, create agendas and access everything through any device. However, you do have to turn on push notifications in order to sync all notes when the app isn’t running. The camera feature is especially helpful. It lets you take a photo of anything and choose to save it as a photo, document, Post-it note or business card. There is also an app version for Windows so you can sync from and to your computer too. Cost: FREE
- Dropbox. Save and share all your documents, photos and videos through one secure location. Now you can even collaborate by adding notes to files you want to share too so group projects just a lot easier! So long to that one group member who never does any work (We’ve all had this. I know.) Dropbox has partnered with Microsoft so users can edit Microsoft Office files directly from their smartphones and save them to their Dropbox accounts. There is app version for Windows so you can sync and drop from your phone right to your computer. Cost: FREE
- My Study Life. Manage your classes with week and day timetables. Keep track of tasks and exams in the cloud and receive notifications to keep you up to date for exams and classes. All within a clean interface and colour coding. You ace your timetabling skills with this one! There is Chrome extension you can download too. Cost: FREE
- PhotoMath. Where was this app when I was in school? It would’ve been the answer to my prayers. How about if you could just point your phone camera at a math problem and the question and a step-by-step explanation would appear? This app does just that. Before you get too excited, only math problems appearing in a textbook work, no handwritten reading capabilities here. While it doesn’t answer advanced math problems, it will tackle fraction, linear, decimal and logarithm equations.
(BONUS TIP: If you like this one, check out WolframAlpha next. Another app that will flex your arithmetic and brain muscles with more than 10 trillion pieces of data and 50,000 equations.
- EasyBib. The most tedious part of writing a paper is the bibliography. It used to take me just as long to do the bibliography as it did the paper sometimes! This app makes bibliography writing a breeze and takes into account more than over 7,000 citation styles, including the most common APA and MLA formats. To get started, type in the name of the book and EasyBib gives you several options to choose from and then creates a citation for you. You can even take a picture of a book’s barcode and generate a citation. Boom!
Our top 3 app picks for teachers
In addition to the ones listed above (many are applicable to teachers as well, especially those with a cloud or collaboration functionality to them, we recommend the following apps to make the school year just a bit more organized and fun!
- Educreations. A unique interactive whiteboard and screencasting tool that’s simple, powerful, and fun to use. Annotate, animate, and narrate nearly any type of content as you explain any concept. Teachers can create short instructional videos and share them instantly with students, or ask students to show what they know and help friends learn something new.
Cost: FREE (app available on iPad not iPhone)
- Class Messenger. Send messages to everyone, to groups or to individual parents, other teachers or students. Everyone chooses whether they get messages in the app, via email, the website or even SMS messages. We even have blocking features for threads (if you don’t want to hear about a particular discussion) or specific members.Also included in this app: ‘Staffroom’ which is a special kind of group for Teachers and Administration only to share private messages. Great for the whole staff of a school or for a small group (like all the Grade 4 teachers or all the elementary music teachers in a school board).
- Brainscape. Improve your students’ study habits & track their performance. You can upload your own flashcards or students can study from the treasure trove of content within the app already. What’s cool about this updated version is visual effects to entice you to keep learning, and the ability to remove market subjects from your library once students have mastered the subject.
Good luck to all entering school and higher education this fall. Let us know which apps have helped your educational career. Happy learning!