Many new tools are available on the internet that can help you as a student, scholar, and researcher. Of particular value to distance learning students, these services can keep you organized and on schedule when the weight of multiple assignments and projects seems like it will bring you down!
Social Bookmarking (URL aggregators -- save, store, and organize your web links)
Social bookmarking website services allow you to store, organize and share your browser bookmarks -- webpage addresses, or Universal Resource Locators (URLs). Social bookmarking services provide permanent storage on the web for your links to these resources, rather than storing them on your home computer. You can organize your links, create notes about them, and even share them with other subscribers to these services. The link-sharing/social function of these services allows you to see what other people engaged in your area of research across the globe are currently studying.
Some social bookmarking sites:
Delicious (owned by Yahoo)
Online applications and storage (Document processing, email, and on-line storage)
Email services have been available on the internet for some time, and most students have email accounts through their schools. The storage space that comes with these accounts is sometimes overlooked. By emailing files and documents to your on-line email account and storing them in your account, you avoid losing data when portable storage devices (thumb drives, floppy discs, etc.) are misplaced, forgotten or damaged. Since your files are stored on-line, you can retrieve them from any location where you can access the internet, which is not possible when you store your files on your home computer. Notable free on-line email services are Gmail (Google) and Yahoo Mail.
Do you use the following types of computer programs?
Word processing? (Word, Wordperfect, Microsoft Works)
Presentations? (Powerpoint, Keynote)
Appointment Calendars? (Outlook, Lotus Notes)
Several on-line services (the ubiquitous web giant Google being the most notable) have developed on-line versions of these programs available to use for free. These tools are conferrable to the Microsoft Office Suite, with certain limitations, but their advantage is that they are free and they are available for use from anywhere you can access the internet. Another feature of these documents is that they can generally be shared with other users over the web for instant collaboration.
Google and Yahoo both have calendar applications which can be accessed on-line on which you can set appointments and schedules. These calendars can email you notifications and warnings about upcoming events such as test dates and due dates for class assignments. For the distance learning student in particular these on-line calendars can be a great help in keeping yourself on schedule and organized.
Some on-line application, email, and storage services:
The expense of textbook costs in addition to high tuition fees can be a game-ender for some students. A new alternative to buying textbooks has emerged: textbook rentals. The following services allow students to rent their textbooks for a set period of time (a semester or a year) at a cost much lower than their original retail price. Safari Books, listed below, also offers the rental of electronic texts - to be read and studied on-line, specializing in technical and computing studies.