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Ways to Make the Most of Your Laptop/Gadget as a Student

OSAU Angel

Laptop learning has gotten a bad rap lately. A growing body of evidence indicates that using devices, including laptops, tablets, and phones, during class may lead to everything from bad note-taking to poor test performance - not just for you, but for the other people around you. This does not mean laptops are all bad. In fact, they still have potential to help you be a better student - if you use yours the right and productive way.

In this article we will make sure you understand on how to use a laptop effectively for academics.


1. Install all required and important software on a laptop at the beginning. This makes sure that you don't waste your time searching for other, unnecessary software. Here is a general list of required software:

  • Driver software, to make the laptop run smoothly and to avoid alternate software downloads for a particular function.
  • Antivirus, to make sure your operating system runs smoothly without any infection and to avoid wasting time on corrupted or infected files.
  • VLC media player, to make all types of videos formats run on your laptop and thus avoid wasting time searching for codecs for various video formats.
  • Adobe Reader, to read PDFs and to avoid wasting time on searching for alternate PDF readers.
  • Google Chrome, to allow faster and issue-free browsing. Mac users can try Safari or Firefox.
  • Adobe Flash Player, to use Flash-related educational programs or .exe files.
  • Internet Download Manager, to speed up downloading.
  • Microsoft Office. This is the core for any study-related documents on your windows laptop.
  • WinRAR. Allows you to extract files or archive files. Sometimes PDFs are in archived .rar format and require use of this software. Linux users can use 7zip to extract archives or archive files.
  • A photo viewer or editor.

2. Avoid installing distraction programs.  Don't download any unnecessary files such as games or music. If you have any, delete them.

Multitasking is another major problem associated with laptop use in the classroom. While we often think of the ability to multitask as a good quality, the reality is that multitasking actually inhibits productivity.  Removing obviously distracting programs like games and music is just the start. Turn off all push notifications so you are not being distracted by emails, tweets, direction messages, Facebook likes, and so on, doing so will allow you to focus on the task at hand, and will also help you avoid annoying or distracting your classmates.

Do you find yourself frequently switching over to the internet during class, meanwhile? If so, there are various apps and extensions you can use to restrict internet access and block certain websites, thereby quashing the temptation to web search during class.

3. Listen to instrumental music.

Avoid listening to music with vocals, as you may start to write or otherwise focus on the lyrics! If you simply must have vocal music, play songs in a foreign language you don't know. Use headphones to listen to the music while studying; try recording your subjects by singing them to the beat of the music. You can then listen to them at any time by transferring them to your iPod.

4. Avoid surfing internet unless for academics and limit your laptop usage. 

Try to minimize your surfing to once a week for 4 hours. This will keep you motivated for studying, as you will look forward to the time spent surfing. Try to get down to 90 to 120 minutes, so you devote more time studying books rather than studying on your laptop.

5.  Use it to communicate with your teachers and classmates.

Before the digital age, the only line of communication between college students and professors was face to face. However, this was not always practical or possible. Whether you’re asking for clarification on an assignment or requesting a meeting to discuss a concern, laptops and other devices make communicating with professors easier than ever. Additionally, many college classes now use Google Hangouts and other online communication platforms. Using these can help you engage with your professors and classmates, as well.

6. Bookmark important sites so that you don't have to search for them again.

If you get videos, download them using Internet Download Manager’s quick download auto-links. Many educational videos are available on YouTube. Videos serve a great deal of learning. Download videos for topics you are about to learn so you can understand the concept beforehand and impress your teachers and friends; and get an edge over the other students!

7. Study offline.

Read the course material. Practice on the relevant software for your courses. Don't limit yourself to the internet.

8.  Use the laptop in a constructive way.

Don't drag yourself down looking at other peoples' fun online only to remember that you're a student. Always long for activities which are helpful in real life and are practical. Social media is an example of what to avoid. You start making more and more friends, you keep checking for notifications, you start to worry what will happen if you don't reply quickly enough, you start playing games; but what you’ll lose is the time you spend on yourself. Remember that students are known for their knowledge and discipline and not for reaching level 600 on Candy Crush. Be productive.

9. Explore and enhance new ideas.

You never know your true potential unless you try it. Have you ever wondered why the best students have so many doubts? It’s because while doing research, they come to explore even more new ideas and doubts. Stay hungry for knowledge and you may end up being a student with great ideas and skills. This will help throughout your life.

10. Do online tests.

No, not the "what type of cookie are you" type of test - do tests about your subject! Note down the problems you were not able to solve or concepts you were weak in and study them. Finish your studying before you go online to write an exam.

11. Don't forget extracurricular.

Laptops aren't just for testing. Extracurricular activities can help you get a job later on and give you something to look forward to. Here are some things you can use a laptop for:

  • Sports. Laptops can provide you an edge over increasing competition when it comes to sports and can increase your potential. Search for tricks and tutorials on YouTube or sports websites and practice them to develop your game.
  • Music. You can use a laptop very effectively to help your vocal expertise. The internet serves as the best platform for musicians. Download various songs and practice them on a karaoke software. You can also record music using software such as Audacity. Watch various videos on the subject. You can even learn a new instrument!
  • Dance. Watch videos and learn more tricks to improve your dancing. Tutorial videos can show you your mistakes. Use YouTube or other sites; there are plenty of them!
  • Gaming. If you want to pursue a career as a gamer then a laptop provides you with an ultimate edge. You can play and design games. To become a professional game programmer, you’ll need to play and design many games, but don't rush; you'll lose focus on academics. Doing things steadily will make you win the race.
  • Graphic design. Graphic design is very popular and requires hard work and patience. Use software such as Medi Bang, Photoshop, Gimp, or Paint Tool Sai. Again, don’t rush; this takes time.
  • Feedback. Perhaps the only good reason for using social media is feedback. Upload your work on social networking sites or on blog forums to get feedback from people, and thus improve next time you do something. Upload your videos on YouTube to share your ideas with the whole world or inspire people. People might sometimes ridicule or abuse your work; ignore them. Know the difference between helpful suggestions and hate.
  • Fashion. Look on brand-name websites and keep updated on the latest trends.
  • Software development. Software development requires two things: programming knowledge and a platform to experiment on. By reading free tutorials on the internet, you can learn C programming without even applying for a course. This takes even more time than art or game programming, however, so don't expect immediate results.
  • Cooking. This is the most important of all mentioned here. You will likely live alone at some point in your life, and fast-food restaurants get old quickly. Invest some time now; it may save you from health issues later.

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