Your life as an educator requires you to manage numerous activities: teaching your courses; meeting with colleagues; conducting your own research; traveling to conferences and workshops… the list goes on. As an educator dedicated to excellence, not only do you want to simply finish your work; you want to do so efficiently and effectively. 

If you’re a smartphone or tablet user, there are a wealth of applications (or “apps”) designed to make your tech tool a powerful partner in getting things done. In Discovering Computers: Essentials, Misty E. Vermaat, Susan L. Sebok, and Steven M. Freund describe the different types of apps that can help you reach your goals with relative ease and simplicity. Review this list, and make sure you have everything you need to make your digital device your ally in boosting your productivity.

  • Some of your work-oriented priorities likely include managing your responsibilities, communicating with students and colleagues, and ensuring that all work is completed by the required deadline. Office productivity apps can help you accomplish these responsibilities with ease. Schedule appointments and important events using a calendar app; send a message using an e-mail app; create, share, and deliver documents using word-processing, presentation, and spreadsheet apps designed specifically for use with mobile devices. Your device may have come pre-installed with a number of these applications; however, a wider variety, offering greater functionality, are available for download.
  • Looking for a way to quickly capture information, without writing it down or typing it all in? Scanning apps take advantage of your mobile tech’s camera functionality to scan QR codes, bar codes, and other documents, such as business cards. The relevant data will then appear on your phone or tablet’s screen, or (in the case of apps such as business-card readers) download to your list of contacts.
  • If you’re like many people, bankers’ hours may not be your hours. Access your financial statements, keep track of  income and expenditures, make payments — and save time in line — by using a banking or financial application. Most apps will also “ping” you when bills are due… thereby reducing the stress of keeping (or missing) important payments. Worried about security? Do make sure that the app you select has safety features that protect your information in case your smartphone or tablet becomes lost or stolen.
  • Need to look up a piece of information on the spot? Use a reference app that serves as a gateway to dictionaries, thesauri, encyclopedias, and other resources. In addition, your library may have its own app, which you can use to browse the institution’s catalog, check your account, download an e-book, contact library personnel, or access the library’s research databases.
  • Dreading that trip to the mall or big-box store? Check out the many retail apps available to you. Search or browse for the items you’re looking for, compare prices, peruse product descriptions and specifications,and read the user reviews to evaluate your best purchase. Depending on the business, you may find additional features as a locator that tells you where the closest store or best price can be found in your area, or payment services.
  • Weary of making endless phone calls to schedule your flights, hotel rooms, rental cars, and other accommodations for your business trips or vacations? Travel apps make it easy to plan each step of your next trip—from investigating and comparing prices to booking your transportation and lodging. Most apps will also store your travel history, so you can refer to your past activity to make current or future plans.
  • Want to connect with colleagues, friends, and family? Download social networking apps for a simple way to stay in touch. Upload photos, videos, and helpful links; chat or send messages; or share your recommendations for the best restaurants, parks, and businesses in town.

Reference: Content adapted from Vermaat, Misty E., Sebok, Susan L., and Freund, Steven M. 2014. Discovering Computers: Technology in a World of Computers, Mobile Devices, and the Internet, Essentials. Boston: Course Technology, Cengage Learning.

What applications do you use to boost your effectiveness? Share your suggestions below, or submit them to [email protected].

On the lookout for additional applications that can increase productivity and engagement in the classroom? Read our recent posts “Using Mobile Technology in the Classroom and Beyond” and “Hot Technologies and Cool Applications for Your Classroom.”