Back to School Tech

JohnAhhh…August. A month full of soldiering through the muggy, humid weather; readjusting to the work grind after returning from beachy, tropical vacations; and listening children of all ages throwing temper tantrums as they prepare to return to school.

But going back to school doesn’t have to be a painful, torturous ordeal, especially not when so much technology has been made available to us to make our lives (and education) a bit easier. From ways to back up your documents to group project collaboration tools to entertainment, technology is a vital part of the 21st century educational experience.

I scoured the Internet, searching high and low for the technologies elementary school children, high schoolers, and college almost-graduates will hopefully find helpful as they gear up to head back to school. Here are some of my favorites, included with links of some of the most popular options:

School Supplies:

  • Graphing calculator. These have been a staple in middle school and high school for years. You simply can’t perform complex algebraic equations on a regular calculator!
  • Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime offers free shipping and quicker delivery—and students are eligible for a discount. You can use Amazon to purchase literally any school supplies imaginable; from pencils to crayons to laptop chargers, you can find it on Amazon. You can also take advantage of their textbook rental program, as these books often run cheaper than at your university bookstore.
  • Laptops. For college students, laptop computers are essential. Students need to be able to complete coursework (which is almost always online), submit assignments, write papers, conduct research, and stay in touch with professors/classmates anywhere at any time. Oftentimes, if you purchase a computer through the university bookstore, they offer free repairs for as long as you’re a student.

Productivity:

  • Amazon Fire Tablet. Perhaps you’re at an event or lecture and want to take notes. Or you have a long bus ride into school and want to stay entertained. Or you spend a lot of time walking around campus and are carrying an already-heavy backpack. In these situations and many others, laptops can be an inconvenience. Tablets provide nearly all the same functionality that a laptop does at a fraction of the size—and price! Amazon Fire tablets consistently receive great reviews and even have an option for the kids.
  • HDMI cord. HDMI cables allow you to hook your computer up to a TV. This comes in especially handy for group projects so people don’t all have to crowd around a small computer screen.
  • Smart pen. I had not heard of this technology until recently, but smart pens have a lot of really cool functionality that can help students perform better in class. They make a digital copy of everything you write on a notepad, so you can store notes on your phone or computer and share files with classmates. Smart pens have built-in audio recording capabilities, so you can record lectures to listen to later.

Storage and Security:

  • Flash drive. Flash drives have been around a while, and that means two things: 1) they work and 2) you can get them for pretty cheap. This tried and true method for backing up documents and transferring files from one computer to another is a must-have for everyone.
  • External hard drive. Take backing up your files a step further and make a copy of you whole computer. You can also use this to store documents and photos that won’t fit on your computer.
  • Surge protector. Protect your devices from electrical issues and power outages.

Accessories:

  • Wireless headphones. As the decision to remove the headphone jack from cell phones becomes more and more mainstream, it may be time to invest in some good wireless headphones you can connect to your devices via Bluetooth.
  • Multi-port chargers. Cell phones, tablets, computers, smartwatches, Fitbits…we have a lot of a stuff that needs charging. Rather than using up ten different outlets to charge your electronics, consider buying a single charger with multiple ports.

Hopefully today’s tech makes going back to school a little more exciting and a lot less painful.

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