To begin with, an Introduction to my situation. I am not a mainstream student. First, my entire graduate program is online. I will never sit in a lecture hall, frantically taking mediocre notes as I try to keep up with a professor who learned to lecture from a livestock auctioneer. A further challenge for my success is my status as a student at home mother.
I’ve been told that I have it easy, getting to stay home. I must have so much time to get things done. I don’t have to find time to get my coursework done. These sentiments come from people who don’t stay at home. But they’re right-staying at home is no work at all!

you-have-children

Now that I’ve stopped laughing, let’s get real. Yes, I stay at home. I have a toddler. An active toddler. I haven’t been to the bathroom alone in weeks (years actually, but I’m not counting neurotic cats here.) I get up at 4 AM to go workout. Then I get home and try to push through as much course content (and coffee) as I can before the toddler comes downstairs with dad. Once the Blue Tornado comes on the scene I generally have to suspend all coursework until he takes a nap. IF he takes a nap. Sometimes if I’m lucky, he gets really involved in some play and I get 15 minutes to catch up on some reading. I can’t do this on my laptop, however, because my tech savvy child will pitch a fit because he wants access to my computer. The last time this occurred it took me 20 minutes to locate the “E” and “H” keys.

So how does a student at home mom get stuff done? I am infinitely fortunate to have an iPad Mini. My idea of school supplies was to go get comfortable pens and an awesome spiral notebook with a tough cover and folders (college ruled of course!) Yeah, that’s not going to cut it for an online program in a technologically diverse world, so I opened a kissing booth sucked it up, and we financed an iPad Mini. It was increasingly apparent that if I was going to complete anything, in addition to waking up early and doing intricate dances to the nap Gods, I was going to have to be mobile to steal away every moment I could to complete coursework.

The iPad has been the best purchase I have ever made for school. It has really taken me to the next level. But it didn’t come that way. When I first got it out of the box and started with it I realized I’d just paid more than my first car for a giant iPhone (that I already had) and it didn’t even make phone calls. Because I was a student, I was fortunate to also get a $50 iTunes gift card with my purchase, so I began researching the best apps for school. My program had resources for this as well, but I wanted this pituitary-enhanced iPhone to be awesome, so that I could do practically anything on it.

My gift card balance is long gone and I haven’t needed any of the costly apps I purchased (though I’m sure at some point I will, because I hate to waste money.) There is one app though, without whom I would be lost: Dropbox. If you are a student of any kind and don’t have Dropbox, you are doing it wrong. I wish I had this when I was in Undergraduate.

Dropbox allows me to save most of the content I need for class online and access it from anywhere. I save all my readings (for each unit, and now my term paper readings) into Dropbox from my laptop and then I can access them on my iPad, iPhone or any computer just by logging into my account. Almost all my course readings(with the exception of the textbook) using Dropbox. It’s been my lifesaver.

It’s my intention to keep updating people on the apps and new technology I find most useful as I navigate my online program. Also, I’m fairly tech savvy, but ultimately I’m an analog girl in a digital world who is fortunate enough to be married to a computer programmer. I’m not gifted in technology by any means and I’ve been out of the loop for a while, so a lot of what I talk about app & tech-wise may be “well=DUH” posts to many. But for those like me, who didn’t necessarily need or care about technology (unless it applied to being able to support the next WoW expansion) hopefully these posts will be useful.

So today’s takeaway from the Ninja: the most important items I have in my arsenal for school thus far have been an iPad Mini, the Dropbox App, and the ability to function on very little sleep.

What apps/technology have you found most helpful to you-in work, in school, in play?

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