Friday, December 16, 2011

Proper Accessories

A guest post by Joseph Baker

The iPad has blown up the world of education. Its svelte chassis, user friendly interface, storage capabilities and ubiquitous Internet connection make it a prime choice for myriad uses. When you add new functionality to that and the ability to create third-party applications, it's no wonder that many schools, students and textbook publishers are eschewing traditional technologies and turning to Apple's tablet computer. Listed below are five of the most beneficial iPad apps available for students from grade school through university level, along with their respective benefits to students. Whether a student is writing a high school environmental science paper on global warming or reviewing notes on their way to a construction management degree, having the right tools available can make the task exponentially easier.


Originating as an event tailored around technology and design, TED quickly became an important conference for all fields. Its focus on “ideas worth spreading” makes its archive of hundreds of presentations engaging and informative. The free TED app for the iPad makes accessing the wealth of knowledge present in industry leaders – such as Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Gordon Brown, Larry Page and many other outstanding innovators – available to students of all ages for research, ideas and satiating simple curiosity. Users can share their favorite videos with others through the built-in email, Twitter and Facebook features; they can also save talks on their device for viewing offline.

Every student needs a reliable dictionary for researching unfamiliar words. A thesaurus is also integral to education, helping students find just the right word to express their thoughts. That's where the free Dictionary & Thesaurus app comes in. Some dictionary apps fetch the requested data from their servers, making offline use impossible and increasing response times.'s app, however, downloads the site's entire 1,000,000+ dictionary and 90,000 thesaurus entries, making a wealth of information available almost immediately. The app includes voice to text support, allowing students to look up words when they aren't sure of the spelling.


As part of Apple's iWork suite, Pages has been part of the Mac OS X platform since 2005. In January 2010, Apple announced Pages for iPad, including an updated touch interface. As a word processor and page formatting application, Pages for iPad has most of the features of the desktop version, giving users fine-grained control over their documents. Users can create charts and graphs, add pictures, embed spreadsheets and create templates. Because Pages supports saving files in Word format, students won't have to deal with interoperability issues and can focus on creating exactly the document they want. For students creating or editing documents on the go, Pages is an essential app.


Created as a dedicated note-taking app for the iPad and Mac OS X, CourseNotes is the ultimate in note organization for students. The app allows students to organize notes by class and subject, eliminating multiple notebooks and with it the chance that the student will bring the wrong set of notes to class. Words can be highlighted within notes and given specific definitions that can then be browsed via the Lexicon database. In addition to notes, to-dos can be created to remind users of upcoming tests and assignments, which will be displayed as sticky notes in the app. With the addition of the ability for students to share their notes with others via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, CourseNotes quickly becomes a go-to app for all students.

Official Museum Apps

Though not a specific app, any official museum app is a great addition to a student's academic arsenal. These apps are usually provided for free by the organization itself, though the data students can access through them is priceless. Museum apps allow students to view pictures of exhibits, sometimes including interactive elements and 360-degree views. Additionally, they'll provide further information for each exhibit, giving students access to official museum information that can be used on papers or to illuminate previously unclear topics.

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