A study revising on their laptop on a sofa

In this second part of our series on exam preparation, we’ll take you through some of the best online tools, apps and software to support you to study at home.  

But before we do, you may want to spend a few minutes considering your learning preferences. And that’s because, while we all share similarities, each of us has a preference for how we digest, retain, and recall information.

Which type of learner are you?

Are you drawn to watching YouTube? Do you love audiobooks? Or do you enjoy physical or mental activities that open your mind up to memorisation and learning?

Your daily habits could offer some clues on your learning style. And this will usually fall into one of four categories, or otherwise abbreviated to VARK.

  • Visual: You prefer to capture and recall information visually, through graphs, charts, infographics or by watching lectures. Visual learning can improve spatial thinking skills.
  • Aural: You retain information by listening and speaking. This could include listening to lectures, discussions or audiobooks.
  • Reading/Writing: You prefer reading and writing to absorb, retain and recall information. You may write summaries of information to read later as part of your revision.
  • Kinesthetic: You’ll prefer to engage in an activity or be doing something you can associate with the information you want to learn. Kinesthetic learners are usually doers who prefer a hands-on approach.

Don’t worry if you can’t identify your preference straight away. Because there are some free online tests that could help. And remember, in your current studies you may use a lecture capture system or engage with a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This is often Panopto, Echo260 or Blackboard.

So, take some time to think about which aspects of your lecture learning you respond to best. For example, do you find you listen more than you look? Do you need to write lecture notes or get a transcription? Or does including captioning help you remember things better?

Whichever style you lean towards, here are our recommended tools to support you to study at home.

Visual

Mind Mapping Tools

Mind maps are effective visual learning aids and note-taking tools. In fact, they’re effective for brainstorming, decision-making, improving memory and increasing productivity in the workplace. And where they’re often used by creative industries or in corporate settings, they’re a useful skill to acquire for the future.  

For students who prefer visual learning, Mind Mapping tools are useful for structuring essays, planning topics and supporting teamwork. Some Mind Mapping apps you may want to take a look at include:

  • MindMup: MindMup is a UK-based app offering unlimited free maps from any device. You also have the option to publish them on social networks.
  • Coggle: Coggle offers real-time mind map collaboration with an unlimited number of image uploads.
  • Mindmeister: A professional, functional tool that offers great-looking presentations.
  • Sketchboard: More for the creative types, sketchboard lets you draw simple sketches for mind maps. Plus, it can sync with other programmes like Slack.

YouTube Tutorials

Real-Time ‘Study with me’ Videos

Studying at home does bring some benefits. But as a student, you may be missing that connection with others.

And this is where real-time ‘study with me’ videos are great. Because they offer a quick, free and easy way to simulate having a study partner. And by following these videos, you’ll know when to take a break. You also may feel better knowing someone else is going through the same experience.

Crash Course

Crash Course is a wonderful option to top up your learning.  From Engineering to Anatomy, AI to Ecology, Crash Course offers a series of animated videos for learners that run at around 10 minutes each.

Aural

Text-to-speech apps

If you prefer to listen while you study at home then you may benefit from a text-to-speech app. By translating any written text into audible, spoken word, aural learners have a way to absorb information better.  

For example, Voice Dream Reader is an RNIB-approved app that will read any text out loud. It can also highlight the words on your screen as you hear them. And this will improve comprehension and knowledge retention.

Also, if you’re looking for a more simple approach, it’s worth noting that Adobe Acrobat Reader offers a ‘Read Aloud’ feature on any PDF documents.   

Audiobooks

It’s an obvious one, but audiobooks are excellent resources for aural learners. Audible.com is one of the world’s most popular audiobook resources. But have you tried blinkist? It’s perfect for 30-minute audio summaries of thousands of non-fiction titles.

Your college or university may also offer audiobooks. Or, you can find some free samples available on audioforbooks.com.

Reading/Writing

Transcription Technology

You may feel there’s not much you can add to a keyboard, computer screen, pen and paper or book, as a reading/writing learner. But you will find huge benefit using captioning and transcription technology.  

Caption.Ed’s on-demand captioning technology gives you the chance to download a transcription of any lecture or broadcast and convert it to study notes. It’s compatible with Panopto, Echo260, Blackboard and even YouTube.

So, if your learning style leans towards reading and writing, you may find adding live captioning accelerates your learning. Plus, with a precise set of lecture notes transcribed by AI technology, you’ll have reliable, written material you can refer back to as part of your revision strategy.

Kinesthetic learning tools

Online simulations and augmented reality

Kinesthetic learners may assume there aren’t many tools or apps to support them with remote learning. But things are changing.

For example, the School of Pharmacy at Keele University uses augmented reality to create web-based learning environments for medical students. And with access to simulated patients, students can practice their diagnostic and communication skills within a virtual environment.

Of course, if you’re a kinesthetic learner without access to such tools then there are other options to help you study at home. Namely, creating your very own virtual environment.

Metaverse is an app that lets you create your own universe from your laptop or phone. And with millions of 3D virtual experiences on Metaverse, you get the option to build your own virtual learning world or join someone else’s. 

For those who may be studying history, another great kinesthetic app experience to check out is Historyview VR. Using this app, you can take a virtual reality tour of national or international sites across the globe for free, all from your laptop.  

To sum things up, we encourage you to find ways of learning that suit your style.

And if you recognize your learning style as ‘reading/writing’, Caption.Ed is a great option to support you to study at home. We work with universities across the country to support transcription and captioning services, including the University of Sheffield, Leeds Beckett University, University of Kent and Edge Hill University.

For more information visit caption-ed.com.