Four years and thousands of dollars later, I'm finally graduating from college this summer. I've learned some valuable things, and I've learned some things that I will never use again. However, I have stumbled across some very useful online tools along the way. If you're a student (at any level) these free tools will make your life so much easier.
1. Google Docs
Google Docs — the heartbeat of all college group projects. If you haven't heard of this one, it's probably because you haven't had a college group project yet. When you do, this free online tool will save your life. One group member can create a document and share the document with other group members and voila, all group members can have a live view of the document. You can see what others are typing as they type it, as well as make edits, chat within the program, and see who has done what work. That means groups can work on papers together without trying to coordinate all of their schedules so they can physically be in the same place. It's a magical thing.
2. Google Slides
If you thought Google Docs was amazing, wait until you hear about Google Slides. I've found that this tool isn't as well known as Google Docs, even amongst college students, so this is your chance to use it in your next group assignment and impress all of your classmates. Google Slides is to Microsoft PowerPoint as Google Docs is to Microsoft Word. In other words, Google Slides is the same concept as Google Docs but with a live, collaborative presentation editor rather than just a document. This comes in handy for any project requiring a presentation or visual aid.
Canva is a beginner graphic designer's best friend. I'm far from a graphic design genius, but Canva allows me to make professional looking graphics for any occasion. It has templates for resumes, social media posts, logos, infographics and more. It's a free alternative to the many paid graphic design programs out there and it is super easy to use. I've used it to create content for class projects, projects at my job and on my social media. Next time you need to create any sort of graphic, Canva is the answer.
Pexels is your one-stop shop for stock photos. I have a confession to make- for school papers and projects, I used to just pull any image off of the web, copy and paste it, and call it a day. THIS IS NOT OK. This was a long time ago and I didn't know any better, but now I do, and so do you. Thankfully, Pexels has tons of beautiful free stock photos available for use. The website even indicates if you'll need to provide an attribution for using the photo.
Not everyone will need to create a survey during their time at school. However, in some majors, it comes up quite a bit. If you ever do need to create a survey, SurveyMonkey is your friend. This tool allows you to create highly customized surveys to meet any need. The only downfall is that the free version of the tool limits you to create surveys that have 10 questions or less. However, I've never found this to be a problem since I usually want to keep surveys short and sweet!
Maybe you had teachers in high school who were cool enough to use Kahoot. I certainly did. If you don't know what Kahoot is, it's a website that allows you to create timed quizzes that participants can play in real-time on any phone or laptop to compete for points. It's a fun way to get your classmates involved if you ever have an assignment that requires you to plan a class activity (I've had quite a few).
Prezi is a fun alternative to Microsoft PowerPoint. The templates are a bit more modern an exciting than a typical PowerPoint. Prezi also functions similar to Google Slides in that multiple people can work on the presentation at the same time. I would recommend Prezi the next time you want to spice up a class presentation.
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