10 Websites for Students That Will Make School Easier
Doing well in school takes more than intelligence and the motivation to learn. Being well-organized, taking notes in class, conducting proper research, and studying for exams are all required for academic success. And websites offering free technology tools can help with all of those tasks.
Technology can be especially effective in helping today’s students learn in school and at home according to Dr. Tracy Gray, managing director of American Institutes for Research (AIR). “As we’ve seen a continuing emergence of technology tools and resources,” Gray explains, “we’ve found that students, particularly those who are struggling, have benefited from their integration through the curriculum.”
Here are 10 websites to help students in both elementary and high school with note-taking, researching, studying, and writing papers.
Mindmeister combines the popular mind mapping concept with the ability to share ideas and collaborate with others via a word processing tool. For taking notes in class or writing an essay or research paper, mind mapping offers students a creative way to organize their thoughts. Mindmeister has a free, limited basic plan and a reduced-cost option for students.
A free online word processing tool, Google Docs has a collaborative feature for sharing work with team members for a group project, and it is especially helpful for writing essays and research papers. With a right click on any word, students can search the web for relevant info that will appear in a column to the right of their paper. This can reduce internet distractions and keep them on task. And if they choose to quote or reference what they’ve found, it’s quick and easy to create a footnote by clicking “Cite” at the bottom of the searched link.
This free online application offers an easy way for students to access citations and create bibliographies for their papers, which will be properly formatted in the style they choose. Formatted citations are available in APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA, and Vancouver styles. EasyBib and Ottobib provide similar citation searches.
Providing free and premium versions, Evernote is a great way for students to keep their class notes and information organized. By setting up notebooks in Evernote for each class, they can keep all their notes in one place and sync them with their phone, computer, and the web. It is easy to add class emails and scanned handouts to the same notebook to keep everything for that class in one place, and it is all searchable within Evernote.
As the name implies, Simple Note offers an easy way for students to jot down notes and easily access them from any device. It has a search and tagging function that make it easy for students to find their notes later, no more searching through notebooks or losing papers. As with other applications, Simple Note allows for sharing and collaboration among classmates. And it’s free!
These days, much of the research that school students are doing is on the web, but they still might want to highlight the info and take notes in the margin, just as they can with textbooks. That is where Diigo comes in. It provides a way to use a digital highlighter and sticky notes on any web page that will stay there on future visits. Students can share the pages with others and save and organize their research.
The web hasn’t replaced books entirely, so textbooks are still part of the classroom. The BookRenter site offers used textbooks for sale or rent at more reasonable prices than buying them new, and you may find supplementary books to aid your child in a particular subject. Half.com is another website to find discounted student books.
One visit to the Digital Public Library of America site will give students the vast cultural and informational offerings of this country’s libraries, archives, and museums. The site features files, images, virtual exhibits, and unique artifacts that are sure to add that something extra to any research paper or report.
This site is light on graphics but heavy on information. It offers a number of reference resources all on one menu page, including search engines, directories, current news features, weather resources, and even stock info. Plus, students will find an extensive collection of almanacs, biographies, calculators, dictionaries, maps, and encyclopedias.
This free online tool allows students to create virtual binders to keep their resources organized for school. It also offers collaborating and sharing functionality so students can work together with other classmates. Students, as well as parents and educators, can create a binder for a specific topic and then collect and organize all their web resources and links in one easy to find place.
Finding effective ways to stay organized with technology and complete school assignments is an important part of being a successful student. Take advantage of the free web tools for students to help your children do their best this school year. Please let us know in the comments section below about any resources that you’ve found helpful.
This article originally published in August 2014 but has been revised and republished in August 2017
Elizabeth Street is a writer and managing editor for Learning Liftoff. For the past 20 years, she has written newsletter and website content for nonprofit and corporate organizations on such topics as the plight of children of prisoners worldwide, the lack of prenatal care for mothers in developing countries, and child mentoring programs. She has a particular interest in the importance of providing all children with a quality education regardless of their family’s financial status or background. A native of Virginia, Elizabeth is a graduate of James Madison University and loves animals, with particular fondness for her two cats, Oscar and Emmy.