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Study tools, brought to you by the internet

By in Opinions


With a new school year underway, freshmen and veterans alike are already starting to feel overwhelmed with classes and the amount of knowledge expected to be absorbed in such short time. Luckily, there are a lot of handy and under used websites to help supplement learning.

The best tool for science classes is Khan Academy. While it is slowly branching out into humanities, its science courses are the most enriched. The site’s intended purpose is to create a website that provides nurturing education for free.

Each section contains videos that explain certain concepts to do with the chosen subject. The areas are extensive and may even go into more depth than a typical class. Within each section of videos, there are opportunities to ask questions about the topic that are then answered by coach’s who act as the instructors of the website.

By going through courses and completing problems, you earn badges that help offer a satisfying motivation to keep learning even if you don’t necessarily need to know the information for school. It also tracks progress in what you’re learning and lets students set goals for themselves.

With all the work and passion that the creators of Khan Academy have put into the website, it manages to keep learning simple and fun.

If Khan Academy covers your course, it’s bound to clear up a great deal of confusion. However, it does not cover all subjects at this time. Those in  English or other language programs have to find other alternatives.

Duolingo is a site that takes a lot of cues from the formula that Khan Academy has been using, only it focuses purely on the learning of languages. Anyone who has taken a university level language course knows how much is expected, and having assistance to practice is a huge asset.

To begin using Duolingo you either have to start with entrance level of your language of choice or take a short placement test. From here they will begin providing lessons on the basics or wherever your understanding level is.

The activities consist of image recognition, general understanding and translating to English, all of which provide the repetition needed to nail down certain definitions while the interactivity keeps things interesting.

Like Khan Academy, students earn points and medals on Duolingo for completing sections to keep the process from being dragged down by tedium. To make it feel more like a game, each class has a certain amount of hearts tied to it. If you make an error, you will lose one; lose them all and you have to start over again.

Things are a little tougher for English majors, as producing coverage for a vast array of books is not an easy task, but there are still good alternatives to the poorly designed Sparknotes. Even with its ridiculous name, Shmoop is a great place to read up on themes, character information and general summaries for a lot of classic books.

While not as modern or satisfying as Khan Academy or Duolingo, Shmoop is still a valuable tool that offers quizzes and flashcards to help study for tests.

Graphic: Cody Schumacher

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