Recommended Back To School Apps
August 21, 2012

Get Ready For Back To School With New Apps

Derek Walter for - Your Universe Online

Back to school is not just about loading up your bag with school supplies anymore. It now involves ensuring your smartphone or tablet is filled with the right tools to make your school life easier whether you are a student, teacher, or parent.

Unless otherwise noted, all the apps here are cross-platform, with a version both for iOS and Android. They should work with most modern Android smartphones or tablets (such as the Nexus 7) running Ice Cream Sandwich or higher. When you go to install, the Google Play store will notify you if a particular app is compatible.

Catch: This note-taking app rolled out a slick new interface in its latest release for iOS (developers say the new version should be arriving soon for Android). With Catch you can organize notes through a hash tag, which can be shared across a team. So if you are collaborating over a #writingproject or #sciencelab, Catch can keep your notes easy to find for yourself and others. Notes sync across devices; start a note on an iPhone and pull it back up for further editing on an iPad. Another rarity: there is a tablet specific version for Android, which works great on a Nexus 7. While Evernote is another well-regarded note-taking app, Catch gets the nod here with its

Pocket: With our increasing number of devices and shorter attention spans, it is hard to always find time for those longer-length articles. Pocket (formerly Read It Later) is an excellent tool for accomplishing this. Install the browser plug-in and clip articles, which can then be read later from your phone or tablet.

ClassDojo: For K-12 school teachers there isn´t a more engaging classroom tool right now than ClassDojo. It creates a real-time behavior management system through ridiculously cute monster icons. Teachers can award or deduct points for target behaviors, then send parents a report of students´ progress. Students get to customize their monsters and track their behavior progress online.

Google Drive: When it comes to collaborating over documents, spreadsheets, or presentations, Google Drive (still known as Google Docs) beats the competition. Android users have the upper hand here, as the Google Drive app allows users to edit their documents on a mobile device (the iOS versions are view only for now). Google has bumped up the features in these productivity tools so much that some may no longer need to purchase Office for their laptop. Of course the best feature is real-time editing, which can be accomplished by up to 50 users at once in the same file.

Skype: If you are looking for a broader method of connecting with others, consider Skype. Skype-to-Skype account calls, video chats and instant messaging are all free. There is also software for chatting over Windows or Mac computers, making it a great resource to stay in contact with fellow students or instructors.

Dictionary - Merriam-Webster: While you can always look up a word´s meaning via Google, it is often useful to have a dedicated app on your device. Merriam-Webster brings the depth of the longtime dictionary to you while in class or with a study group.

SparkNotes: Don´t have time to finish off that copy of Anna Karenina before the large exam? SparkNotes to the rescue. It is a great tool with a large collection of digital study aides that can be accessed from any of your mobile devices.

RealCalc (Android only): While the iPhone comes with a pretty solid built-in calculator, the Android default is definitely lacking. If you need more computing power than the stock Android option, consider RealCalc. It can handle more complex computations that will serve as a powerful tool for anyone taking advanced levels of mathematics.