What Are Academic Apps and What’s Their Purpose?

Un grupo de jóvenes charla en una habitación.

Can you imagine being on social networks while in class? For that matter, what if teachers would encourage you to use them as a study method? No, it’s not a Netflix series about a dystopian future in which technology rules the planet. We’re fully immersed in the digital revolution — a period in which we’re still adapting to technological changes. 

It’s clear that the Alpha Generation will encounter a very different educational panorama than their predecessors. Millennials had to settle for digital calculators and, best case scenario, with a projector and a substantially big laptop.

On the other hand, Centennials —or the Z Gen— already had smartphones, tablets or much more compact laptops, but their use was always limited in the classroom since they were considered a distraction for the students.

Raise your hand if a professor has ever told you to hand in your phone at the beginning of the class and didn’t give it back until the class was over. Or, raise your hand, also, if computers were not allowed in the classroom. Fortunately, nowadays things are different. And, knowing that young people are glued to their devices, education has adapted and it offers a variety of possibilities.

From Blogs to Social Networks: Their Roles and Evolution in Education

The Internet started a revolution in the academic arena. Books and notes became less important and virtual campuses and tablets took the lead. Same thing happened with methodologies. 

The origin of academic apps can be traced to blogs and information forums. We have all visited those websites with summaries of entire books, plays, etc. or those in which you could find the questions that had been part of an exam. It was all very basic.

As time went by and the Internet became a more definite part of our lives, the first academic apps or websites were born. On those sites, you could find information but you could also connect with other students and scholars.

Academia.edu is one of the best known portals: created in 2008 with the goal to share, monitor, check the impact and make it easy to follow research articles. Another important social network is ResearchGate, whose goal is quite similar to the previous one, except that this one focuses exclusively on science. Mendeley was born the same year as the two previous ones, but it focuses on storage and organisation of research. Google was the forerunner of all of them with Google Scholar Metrics.

Once social networks settled in and became the current phenomenon they are, a new set of apps for studies started emerging.

Digitalised Education and the Best Platforms for Studying

After the pandemic, many centres had to become digital in order to offer online classes and exams, among other things. These practices are still being used after two years.

Several educational centres —especially universities— offer their complete syllabus in different types of documents on their websites. Others have gone a bit further and adopted monitoring systems in order to supervise students during exams and prevent them from cheating.

The point is that education is adapting to society’s digitalisation. We’ve been talking about what academic social networks are but, do you know which are the most used ones? Here’s a list you’ll surely find interesting:

  • Edmodo: A social network that allows teachers, students and families to take part. This app allows for the creation of groups where you can share assignments, notes, links and attach files. Teachers —the only ones in charge of access and administration— can generate debates for students to take part proactively.
  • Kahoot: While, at the beginning, it was a tool exclusively for professors to create questionnaires to evaluate students, as time went by, it has become a social network for personal use as well.
  • Anki: It’s a software for memorising using a repetition technique, creating open code flashcards. There’s a web based version and a smartphone version, so it can be accessible for any student.
  • Clipit: A pioneer in active student collaboration, since they are the ones who upload videos presenting their views on a certain topic. Other students can then share their own points of view on the shared video.Brainly: This tool allows you to ask questions about different subjects. It’s available in different languages and is aimed both at students and professors.
  • Schoology: Similar to Moodle or Google Classroom, this paid platform offers the possibility to open debate forums, set up student groups, use different evaluation tools and upload your own files.

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