The need to master essential online tools has increased drastically as learning and working has moved to the virtual world. Technology is available to help you become an effective learner and optimize your research. A carefully strategized research project and thesis writing process, incorporating some helpful technology, can have many benefits, notably greater work-life balance and improved employability.
Here we share the top ten online tools that every graduate students should have in their toolkit:
Working from home has its upside like saving time on commuting or being able to enjoy a homemade lunch. However, the challenge is to organize your time and avoid tempting home distractions that can cause you to lose focus and motivation. We highly recommend Trello, a project management tool, to help you plan and keep track of your academic projects. The tool helps you set significant milestones, break them into smaller tasks, categorize your work, set realistic timelines, and identify when you work with others.
2. Focus apps
Does the statement "phones and social media are big distractors and top productivity killers" resonate with you? If yes, we recommend you install a focus apps such as Freedom or Serene on your phone. These apps block unwanted app notifications for scheduled periods so that you can focus on what is actually important to you.
Recreate your favourite working ambience. Many grad students feel energized when writing at a café! When this option is unavailable, we propose this cool recording with cafe background sounds to help get into the buzz of being at your favourite coffee shop!
Concordia graduate students have access to more than 4,000 of Udemy’s high-quality online courses. Take charge of your self-development with this flexible solution. Give a boost to your efficiency at grad school with Your Guide To Memory And Learning Skills or Machine Learning A-Z: Hands-On Python & R In Data Science. Polish the skills required by today's job market with Microsoft Excel - Excel from Beginner to Advanced and The Complete 2020 Web Development Bootcamp. Learn something fun such as Photography Masterclass: A Complete Guide to Photography.
Editing is a challenging task and nothing better than optimizing your proofreading process with an app like Grammarly. It will flag typos, grammar and sentence structure issues. You have the basic app features for free, and for more robust support, you can sign up for the student package.
Zotero is a free and open-source reference management software, endorsed by Concordia's Library, that helps you organize and store your bibliography in one place. Significant features include the ability to choose your prefered citation style, integrate with Microsoft Windows and Google docs, export sources as a citation or a reference list, add notes and insert attachments. Online tutorials can help you master Zotero, or you can register for our workshop Zotero for Grads (GPLL243) with Concordia Library.
If you prefer to read, annotate and highlight your readings in a pdf format using a tablet instead of a paper version, then we recommend Papership. Once you finish the annotations on your pdf, you can transfer it back to your Zotero account, linked to your desktop. You need to install on your computer a plugin called Zotfile. Check online tutorials to take full advantage of Papership and Zotero capabilities.
7. Office 365 Education
8. Microsoft (MS) Teams
Microsoft Teams can be downloaded by Concordia students. It is a secure and practical tool to organize your teammates in group projects. This software allows you to share documents, have a chat session, and assign tasks to other group members. Maximize the use of Teams capabilities by taking a Udemy course on Mastering Microsoft Teams (2020).
9. Google Suite Education
If you need to work on a group project with online tools already commonly used among students, then Google Suite Education is a great choice. Google offers software common to MS package, including spreadsheet, document and presentation tool that have pre-existing templates to deliver an impactful presentation and unique resumes.
10. Free File Storage and Transfer
Nothing could be more devastating than losing your research due to the lack of back-up. It is imperative to store your research material safely in more than one location. There are several free options that can help you: Dropbox offers up to 2GB free storage, your student Office365 OneDrive storage comes with 1TB storage, and Google Drive stores up to 15GB. If you are transferring files to your supervisor, and they are below 2MB, we can also recommend using Wetransfer. MS Teams and Google drive are both safe file-sharing tools.