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Top Ten Back to School List for High School and College Students

Whether you are a high school student or a college student or perhaps a sixth form students preparing for A’Levels or CXC there are ten must haves for your new school year. As a teacher I have observed that the 21st Century student’s Back to School List looks a tad bit different to the lists of old.  Here goes:

  1. A school appropriate email address. Emails are becoming the preferred medium of exchange and communication between teachers or lecturers and their students.  This means that you need to create an email address that is appropriate. That means one with your first and last name preferably. No nicknames, or R rated names.  I suggest Gmail as your email service, primarily because it rarely rejects mail, has tons of storage space. However, your teacher is more concerned with your naming convention than your provider, So an email name makeover is in order.

2. cloudCloud based storage. Cloud based storage allows you to access your files anytime and anywhere there is an Internet connection. Google Drive , Dropbox and MSN’s Sky Drive are examples of cloud based storage, but there are many more.   This cloud storage solution allows you flexibility. Imagine yourself working on a project  on your own device or n the computer lab, then shucks it’s time for a next class or a chat break. Well you can simply stash your project in the cloud until next time you need it.  If the non physical aspect of the cloud scares you , use a thumb drive for back up. However, trust me there will be a day in the classroom when your teacher asks for the assignment. Your flash drive may be at home but the cloud is always there.

3. Earbuds or headphones. These are essential.  You will most likely notice that your teachers are using many more multimedia resources. This means there is sound as even online texts have embedded multimedia elements. Whether you are checking out these resources or other multimedia resources on your own device or the school’s, it’s polite to do so without disturbing others.  It may even be wise to get a pair of both. Earbuds for in the school lab where your huge headphones won’t be as distracting. Here is NBC’s list of best headphones for students.  I say get whatever is economical for you though.

4.  A smart device.  Technology is an ever present buddy in today’s classroom. Your teachers will use it  any number of ways – to assess, to share resources, to teach. You will use it to research, to communicate, to learn and to help you relieve some stress. So you need your own portable device. It can be  smartphone, tablet, netbook or laptop. Generally the smaller the better. but BYOD. Bring Your Own Device.

5. Prezi . I have forbidden my students from using PowerPoint for about three years. I give them the choice to present their work to me using programs that are much more suited to the multimedia, multi modal world of today. My preference is Prezi. This presentation tool allows you to incorporate audio, video, voice overs, pictures, links in any order you wish. The presentation is housed online and so you can access it anywhere you have an Internet connection and so can your teacher.  So for your next presentation, stand out from the crowd by using Prezi or any other new age presentation software.

6. A Physical Calculator. Yes you read correctly. I know what you’re saying,  “I thought this was a new age list”. True, but there are some traditional things you still need. Now although many of my students will use the calculator apps or functions on their phones or tablets, devices are banned in exam rooms. So, how will you do your calculations during exams or tests when smart devices are banned? So, yes you need an actual physical calculator sometimes! Calculators on Amazon

7. Textbooks and Revision Guides.   I know that you are moaning and groaning. However with almost a decade of tertiary level education under my belt, I can tell you that the students who get the better grades generally buy their texts and revision guides. Check out my bookstore for management and business study guides or my Amazon author’s page. Check out my Summer Stock Up Specials – revision guides for $9.99. You can also scan school bulletin boards to see who may be selling used texts. Use social media to your advantage and spread the word about the texts you need. Do a book swap. Swap some of your old texts with someone who has the texts you want this academic year.

8. Portable speaker. No doubt you will be expected to make  at least one presentation in the upcoming academic year. Often as teachers we struggle to hear the sound if there are audio or video components. Easy fix. A small portable speaker will do the trick. Booming sound in a tiny, pocket sized package.  There are of course Bluetooth speakers but those  with a  3.5-mm audio jack that plug into your earphone port are just as good and actually more convenient. Bluetooth Speakers on Amazon.

9. USB Flash Drive. Remember when I told you that you need cloud based storage? I did mention that you should also get a flash drive. So here it is making an appearance on the list at number nine. Why? Well you won’t always have access to the Internet to access or store to your cloud based solution. Flash Drives come in a variety of storage capacities, my advice is to get one with at least 4 GB. Remember you will be storing many more multimedia components like video, that gobble up space on your flash drive.  I would suggest getting more than one.

10.3d-smiley-faces A winning attitude and inquisitive mind. I have left this as the final component but it really is the most important. No amount of gadgetry can substitute for a sharp mind and a “can do” attitude. Teachers are more likely to assist those that show a willingness to learn, diligence and perseverance than the slacker. Even more importantly it is the student with the winning attitude that succeeds in the classroom and in life.  So bring the desire to learn and the commitment to do your best in your backpack every day!

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