Most of us couldn’t imagine life without our smartphone. We use apps—self-contained, task-specific programs—to check our e-mail, listen to music, keep our calendars up-to-date, and so much more. These mini computers are increasingly becoming the main electronic device we rely on to organize our lives.

How can you optimize your device for your studies? Walden faculty members Dr. Steve Canipe and Dr. Mark Clauburg, both of The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership, offer a few ideas for students who want to use their smartphones to get the most out of their education.

Get Organized


If you need to store and organize your research and have it available on several different devices, this free app is an excellent choice. Evernote comes in two versions: regular and scannable. It stores documents in the cloud and it allows syncing to any device, including computers, tablets, and phones—regardless of their location. The app allows you to organize documents, articles, images, and audio files into projects. The scannable version allows you to scan documents directly into your Evernote storage.

“One student remarked that she started working on her doctoral study on her desktop, saved the work, and then when she went to the library, opened the app on her mobile and continued taking notes and collecting resources,” says Dr. Canipe. “She didn’t have to worry about keeping track of a flash drive. She was also able to work on the same project using her tablet while at the local coffee shop. Her work is available on all her devices from wherever there is Internet access.”

Google Drive

This app offers 15 GB of free Google online storage in the cloud, eliminating the need to have documents saved in multiple places—they simply exist in Drive, which you may access from your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Google Drive allows you to share files and folders with others, offering them the ability to view, download, and edit documents (even at the same time!). This feature makes it a good choice for collaboration on team projects. This app is available for Apple, Android, and Windows devices.

Dr. Canipe recalled a doctoral student who recently called his dissertation chair in a panic, having lost all of his work when his computer crashed and then not being able to find his backup drive. “The student remembered having stored his work recently on Google Drive due to a reminder from his dissertation chair. All the work was at the off-site location and he was able to retrieve everything he had worked on previously. He became a proselyte for cloud storage in Google Drive.”

“Our students in the instructional design and technology programs are extremely tech savvy and they swear by Google Drive,” adds Dr. Clauburg. “They use it to write papers, collaborate on group projects, and safely store essential files and documents. In addition, Walden faculty members are increasingly using the app to collaborate, share best practices, and become more efficient facilitators in the classroom.”


Paper is a free brainstorming, organization, and sketching app for Apple devices. The basic suite of drawing tools allows you to jot down simple ideas, while the more advanced tools can enable you to create fully realized works, like illustrations, graphic designs, or charts.

Learning Aids


EasyBib allows you to scan book barcodes or manually type the title or International Standard Book Number (ISBN) to collect, organize, and generate bibliographies for academic papers and share the final product via e-mail. The free app is based on the popular Web-based EasyBib application.

According to Dr. Clauburg, scholarly papers, literature reviews, and supporting discussion responses all require the collection of academic sources, especially for the Walden doctoral student. “EasyBib is one of the first resources I share with students. They’ve revealed how much easier life is with EasyBib, as the application saves them countless hours and helps them become more efficient researchers. This app is an absolute must-have for Walden students!”


Nearpod is a free app that allows educators to present engaging materials to students from their mobile device or tablet (or students to present group projects to their teams). Students with the app can view the presentation from their own device. Additionally, the app leader can interact with participants by using quiz and polling features with results displayed in real time. Nearpod provides a library of pre-existing materials, but users can create their own presentations from scratch.

“I've only seen it used in the classroom, but the functionality of Nearpod could certainly be applicable to business settings,” adds Dr. Clauburg.

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