Apple’s iPod is still the premiere mp3 player. Even after years at the top of the game, it has yet to be dethroned by any of its challengers. In recent years, however, Apple has started to offer a lot more than just music and movies for its ubiquitous portable media center. Whatever you want to do, your iPod has a way to help you. Especially if you’re a student looking for an edge.
If you’re a student heading off to university, an iPod Touch or an iPhone in your pocket can make a world of difference. Here are just a few tips to set you on your path to academic superstardom with the power of a pocket player.
• Don’t Be Afraid of Podcasts
Podcasts are on a boom-bust-boom-bust cycle. They’ve lost considerable popularity in the past couple of years, but they’re still a valuable resource. Find podcasts that are active, that entertain you or manage to hold onto your attention, and that come from reliable sources. With most iPods currently on the market, both video and audio podcasts can be carried anywhere and watched or listened to at your convenience.
You can find out how active a podcast is by checking the “release date” column in the iTunes podcast directory. If there hasn’t been an update for the past couple of months, it may just be on break — but if it hasn’t updated in a year or two, it’s a sure bet that you’re not going to be seeing an update any time soon.
• Get to Know iTunes U
Music, movies, television shows, podcasts — the iTunes software is a fantastic resource for entertainment. But it’s also an amazing resource for educational materials. If you haven’t already familiarized yourself with the iTunes U section of the store, be sure to check it out. Colleges use iTunes U to deliver valuable audio and video lectures and programming on a wide variety of subjects.
Even if your university doesn’t provide material through iTunes U, you’ll want to get familiar with the service. Whatever your subject, you’ll find it offered somewhere — and your professor might just be impressed that you can quote so readily from Robert Sapolsky’s Stanford lecture on baboons and stress control
• Get the Kindle ReaderApp
Amazon’s Kindle is gaining ground as a hot new piece of technology, and the ability to stash your heavy textbooks in a single digital screen is priceless to the busy student. What you may not know is that the iPhone App Store also offers the Kindle reader as a free app for your iPhone or iPod Touch. Just like the Kindle, your Kindle Reader app will download your Kindle store purchases automatically and put them all at your fingertips.
Even if you decide to add a Kindle to your equipment along with your iPod or iPhone, you’ll still find value in the app. Both the Kindle Reader and your iPhone app will have access to your books. Not only that, but thanks to Amazon’s Whispernet, if you mark a page on either the phone or the Kindle, your mark will show up on the other item, as well.
• Use Wikipedia, Just Don’t Rely On It
Wikipedia has been much maligned recently. There are obvious areas where Wikipedia isn’t quite an authoritative source. It’s an open-source encyclopedia that is crowd-edited, which means that a lot of people can add their expertise to its entries, but people with obvious agendas or who don’t understand the topic are equally empowered.
This is why many University professors now refuse to accept Wikipedia as a source on student papers. And while Wikipedia is far more reliable than they would have you think, they do have a valuable point.
You will excel if you learn how to use Wikipedia as a starting point. Do not accept it as a final resource on any given subject, but rather use it to get a basic understanding — and don’t forget to check out the listed resources and suggested other reading.
The iPhone app store offers a lot of different front ends for Wikipedia — some free, some paid. Your choice of app will depend on what you value most. Some offer a clean interface, others offer the ability to expand and save pictures that accompany the articles. Whatever you place as a priority, however, it shouldn’t cost you much — or anything at all — to get it.
• Sync Wisely
The iPhone and iPod Touch offer the ability to sync your phone with your Apple desktop or laptop computer. The secret is to learn how to sync wisely. It might seem like a good idea to fill your iPhone calendar with the release dates for all of the upcoming movies you want to see, but do you really need that schedule at your fingertips? Syncing podcasts can help you keep up with them effortlessly, but make sure you’re syncing them in a way that maximizes the benefit you get from them.
Perhaps the best part of syncing is its flexibility. Set up your iPhone or iPod Touch to sync the information you need and minimize your distractions — and watch that syncing your data from your desktop or laptop doesn’t erase information you entered directly into your portable device.
• Rest Your Brain
Your recreation is just as important as your work, and it shouldn’t be ignored. There are plenty of games available through the App Store in pretty much any genre you can think of. RPG’s, action games, puzzles and simulators — whatever you’re used to playing online or through your gaming system, you can find something like it that will go anywhere with you.
If you dig Sudoku — a game that some doctors think can improve your brain power — then you can even find that. The important thing, however, is to make certain that you give your brain a chance to rest and rebuild itself. All work and no play don’t make a super student — just a tired brain.