The Direct Network

The Top Apps to Make Your Students Studying Machines

Posted by Dean Asher on Feb 22, 2015 11:00:00 PM
Topics: K-12, study aid

Let’s face it: no one’s favorite hobby is to study. It can be especially hard for plugged-in students to focus on their work when a game, social network or other time-waster is a tap away.

But technology doesn’t have to be a hindrance. Here are some great apps we’ve found to help students of all levels stay on top of their studies and keep track of their assignments. Some are designed to help with productivity and others are meant to give them an easier way to complete assignments, but all of these apps are awesome ways to encourage your tech-savvy students to use their devices wisely and improve learning outcomes. Check them out!

Who doesn't like being rewarded with pictures of cute kittens? With Written?Kitten!, that's what students get for diligent work.

Who doesn't like being rewarded with pictures of cute kittens? With Written? Kitten!, that's what students get for diligent work.


It’s a scientific fact: music can help you study. However, some types are better than others, as lyrical, mainstream music like pop or rock can create distractions and impede comprehension. Musical styles include classical, up tempo, acoustical, cinematic and ambient tunes, blocking out noise and helping students’ brains focus on the task at hand.

Focus@Will automatically streams different types and genres of music that have been scientifically shown to improve your attention span and help recall information. It even has built-in productivity tracking. Paid accounts start at $3.99 a month, but Focus@Will is free to try for 14 days and is available through your browser or on iOS and Android devices.


With mounting projects, reading and homework assignments, it can feel like there’s no time left in the day to do personal activities for students. “Me time” and an active social life is important for a student’s well-being, and well-timed breaks in a work load can actually improve retention and focus when studying or working on an assignment. That’s where RescueTime comes in.

RescueTime tracks the amount of time you spend on certain activities and sends you detailed reports so you can keep track of how much time you spend doing work. It also functions as a tool to stay focused, as it will automatically block certain distracting sites like social media after the user spends too much time on online “extracurriculars.” And with a free or premium version, anyone can use it.

RescueTime is available for laptop users and on Android devices — there is no iOS version at this time.

Strict Workflow

Available as a browser app, Strict Workflow follows the “Pomodoro Technique” method of studying: strict 25-minute study or work sessions broken up by five-minute break to slack off, check email or do something else. Developed in Italy by a man using a pomodoro-shaped timer (that’s Italian for ‘tomato’), the idea is to set time aside to exclusively work but punctuate it with frequent, short breaks to avoid burning out and losing focus entirely.


An example of Writer's toned-down, simplistic interface.Tablets or laptops can be awesome note-taking tools, but unlike pen-and-paper notepads, you have to worry about forgetting to save or file corruption.

For forgetful students who always seem to miss that save button, there’s Writer. A browser-based app that works in Chrome or Firefox, it automatically saves your work as you write. There’s no more accidentally losing everything after you close out of a text document, although you can still save your work to a flash or hard drive as a text or pdf file.

A stripped-down interface makes Writer distraction-free. Writer also doesn’t cost anything to use, but it has a premium paid version that boasts additional features like exportation to Google Docs or Dropbox, revision history and more.

Written? Kitten!

Sometimes writing assignments can be so long they feel insurmountable. Reward yourself every 100, 200, 500 or 1,000 words with a cute kitten picture! Written? Kitten! offers students a fun incentive every time they hit a milestone word count with an adorable kitten picture as an award.

Images are randomly pulled from Flickr’s “most interesting” section, and students can even customize what types of images they want to see — default options include bunnies and kitties.

Are there any other apps, sites or techniques you have your students use? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

About Dean Asher

Dean Asher is a former copywriter with MBS. Though he no longer writes for us, he is still proud of having helped this blog continue to evolve as an industry-leading resource of news and original content.

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