As an individual who grew up mostly in the digital world, technology has been a positive influence on my life. I am a current senior at Viterbo University, and technology has been integral in my academics since middle school when our district first introduced school-affiliated laptops. It is an extreme privilege to have the experience I do with technology because I was raised by a wonderful mother who valued technology as a tool for learning. I had the chance to develop a healthy relationship to technology early. Hence, today, I enjoy the benefits of apps, websites, and services that are available for students.
With this essay, I hope to bring technology to center-stage of conversations around productivity and time management. There are several ways technology can be utilized for school, work, and personal life.
To assist readers, I have also included my favorite online services that I use in my university life.
Thank you for reading!
Did technologies help in making humans more productive?
Growing up in the digital age has been advantageous for me and my peers. We adapt and learn technology more rapidly than those who did not have technology throughout their childhood. While I have not experience adult life without technology, I can observe around me how it has made work more efficient and employees more productive. Technology, when used wisely, allows us to maximize our time, better communicate, and advance our knowledge quickly.
The definition of productivity changes depending on who you are asking. An economist may say productivity is the amount of outputs generated from a given number of inputs. When the average person says they want to be more productive, they mean similarly. Productivity is maximizing one’s talents and accomplishing as much as they can in a limited amount of hours. Technology can cut back on hours spent doing things like handwritten calculations or calling/mailing someone about business matters.
Technology can also empower and motivate people to make the most out of their work day. When tasks are completed quicker than they would have done manually or without technology, people receive gratification and appreciation sooner. They also feel encouraged to keep learning and pushing their limits. This extrinsic and intrinsic motivation are not exclusively caused by technology, but technology definitely has a hand in producing it.
How does technology make us more productive?
Technology supports productivity through opening our eyes to the world of knowledge and achievement. I would not be as ambitious now if I was not inspired by valuable online resources in my adolescence. With the internet’s vast network of information, I learned about subjects that were not provided by my school like photography, American Sign Language, German, and Philosophy. When I was a high schooler deciding what to major in, I could have been limited in my potential career options if I could only see what was available in my small town. Instead, technology impacted my future through showing me what is possible.
My productivity has also increased because technology helps me stay organized. I am more productive when I use my online calendar, to-do list generator, and note taking app. A physical planner is nice, but it does not have the versatility an online service does. It is helpful when my calendar and to-do list sync with all my devices. I can also make changes easily with just a click of a button. While my personal work ethic has improved with technology, so have organizations that have embraced it.
Which is an example of technology increasing productivity?
Currently, I am a Student dietitian with a preceptor at a long-term care center. It was only recently that their medical charts transitioned to electronic-based charting. While a tremendous learning curve for the employees, after training, the time they spend on charting is substantially less than before. Using technology for medical charting helps employees get more accomplished in their day. This frees them up to be with residents more or help other employees out when needed.
The charting system I am learning for this internship is very efficient because it can generate PDFs that have all the pertinent patient information. While the information may have been input into different folders within the software, it has been programmed to combine the information into easy to read handouts. This is just one example of how technology has transformed this long-term care center’s work.
Technology in medical establishments boosts the productivity of the entire system. When multiple hospitals use similar electronic charting software, they can share patient information faster and more confidentially. Additionally, it makes it simpler for sharing with the patient and their family. If all records were on physical paper and not backed up somewhere, those medical records could be easily damaged by a natural disaster, fire, or improper handling. The transition to electronic medical records has saved time and money in the long run for this particular long-term care center.
How technology can increase efficiency in a business?
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated technology’s ability to make the world go around. In other words, while everyone had to stay in their homes, the online world was ‘zooming,’ pun intended. Businesses who were not as present online, had to quickly adjust their marketing and sales tactics. Companies who typically had their employees come into the office, learned to bring the office to their homes. While several online platforms were essential to school and working at home, one stands out as a staple for increasing efficiency in business, video conferencing services.
Services like Google Hangout, Microsoft teams, Webex, and Zoom became vital tools for maintaining family, friend, and co-worker connections. Video conferencing is also an incredible and cost-effective way to do presentations and hold meetings. With video meetings becoming more ubiquitous, it is also possible to have trans-national conversations to discuss complex topics. And services are becoming more user-friendly and efficient such as the live-caption feature.
The future of business will have video conferencing and other forms of technology at or near the center of their work. If companies wish to be competitive and successful, they will benefit greatly from practical technology use in all their departments. With the rise in technology in the workplace, students in school also need to keep up with the pace of innovations and advancements in technology. Let me share four of my all-time favorite productivity services that can help people reach their fullest potential.
Quizlet is a large platform for anyone who wants to master a collection of terms. As a user, one can create their own set or study off of a set that has already been made. To study a Quizlet set, one can learn, flash through cards, write and spell, and generate a practice test. Quizlet also offers games called Match or Gravity.
After years of using this app and web page, I have found small features of Quizlet that allow me to maximize the technology. When creating a set, one can change the settings so definitions of an unlearned term will be recommended from past users. In my experience, adding photos that correspond with the definition will contribute to faster memorization. I also group sets together into a folder so when the final exam approaches, I can study all the terms together.
I utilized Quizlet almost every day when I was studying for Anatomy and Physiology. After assembling all the terms, I might spend an hour making the set. Then, I would study it for five to six hours periodically, until the test the following week. Other subjects like General Psychology, Introduction to Nutrition, and German, for me, were best retained with Quizlet.
Quizlet is helpful for those who are trying to go paperless. Making physical flashcards can work for some students; however, that is not the best way I learn. When I used to make flashcards for vocabulary or geography, it took me hours just to write them out, and I disliked throwing them away after a few uses. If there were a hundred or more terms to memorize, I had no feasible way to study them with typical flashcards. With Quizlet, there is no need for tedious scribing or wasting paper.
Go check out Quizlet for your next exam! You will not be disappointed.
Evernote is one of those applications that you know wants to see their users succeed. As a student in high school, Evernote assisted me with recording all my speeches, U.S. history notes, and senior capstone research. In college, I use it to store my internship notes, essays, and even a personal journal. Data within the app gets stored in their cloud and one’s notes can always be accessible from any computer or phone. With the multiple transitions, from middle school to high school to college, I appreciate that my data on Evernote can always be found when I log in.
The dates on my notes within Evernote can be traced back to 2014 with my inventory of National Geographic magazines. Funny right? I was an interesting child. It’s like a time-capsule when I look through past notes. For example, under the notebook titled Helen’s Exchange Emails, I have stored the important conversations between my German exchange partner and I in 2016. And each note can be found easily because they are organized into notebooks, which are categorized into stacks. It has been seven years, and Evernote still transforms my academic and personal work to this day.
Organization, reliability, and ease are what make Evernote an essential tool for my education. When my formidable Senior Capstone became a large part of my last high school year, I stored almost everything into a notebook. Trusting that Evernote would have my data safely stored, saved me from the added stress of losing my research. From my smallest tasks to semester-long projects, Evernote works for all endeavors.
The alternative to Evernote is to record everything on notebooks, something I already do, though not on such a large scale. I prefer to not have a plethora of notebooks on the bookshelf for two reasons. The first, physical notebooks take up a lot of space and I cannot travel with them easily. The second is about modifications. A notebook cannot be mixed around and rearranged. If I wanted to change the layout of a notebook, I may need to buy a binder, which would cause more materials wasted.
Evernote gives me many more gadgets to utilize then traditional paper and pencil. I can copy and paste directly if I wanted to save an article or study a set of words. On the IPad, I can draw or upload photos onto a note. The best feature of Evernote is the present option. I can keep notes on it from class and then present it to others during study groups. This application has changed the way I study and my readiness to achieve during exams.
Overdrive is an online program and app that offers ebooks, audiobooks, and videos to libraries and schools.
My life was never the same after I discovered audiobooks. What is more amazing than to learn at same time one is walking or running? Audiobooks are perfect for lengthy car rides or a day spent cleaning. At my local library, I was ecstatic when discovering their selection of audiobooks on CDs; however, everything transformed when I found out how to have them on my devices. All I had to do was download Overdrive from the App Store.
Using Overdrive for School
While school is in session, I take every opportunity I can to listen, as well as read, my required texts. Audiobooks help me to fully understand the context of each book better than if I just read them. If I never stumbled upon Overdrive, I would be forced to read every book that I was interest in, and so, I probably would not have. Overdrive gave me access the millions of books that I could enjoy as if someone was teaching me. Success is in the balance of both reading, listening, and watching. I utilize all three methods to comprehend subjects in school and topics of my own interests.
Overdrive is the perfect resource for getting ahead and fully learning from a text. On average, I spend three to seven hours a week listening to Overdrive. Each book can be up to nine hours, however, I have found a feature on the app that changes everything. I can quicken the pace of the reading, leading to less time spent, or I can slow the reader down, for better understanding.
If you are looking for an outstanding to-do list app, look no further. I check Any.do routinely. I appreciate the chance to record my tasks and then to not have them clutter my mind until the alarm reminds me to complete that task. Any.do allows me to create lists for each project I am working on.
Recently, I have been juggling classes, internships, resident assistant (RA) tasks, and an art illustration project. All these project get jumbled in my head and I feel paralyzed, unsure of where to start. So I enjoy having sub-tasks because it breaks up my projects into manageable segments.
Any.do has some useful features such as the reminder system. Download the app to see how it can improve your organization and task-management.
Making Books Comprehensible
During summers and breaks from school, I used to constantly have earbuds in, listening to books. My audiobook selections could range from classics like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre to nonfiction like Ghost Map and Outliers.
One summer, I finished all the Harry Potter books by either reading them or listening to them. Overdrive helped me to explore genres that I could not comprehend through reading science based books. It solidified my passion for learning and with this app, I could learn anything.
What I would Change
Each of these three apps have been exceptional resources for my learning and study habits. Quizlet, Evernote, and Overdrive are hard to critique; so, here are my suggestions for their improvement.
Quizlet has been around since 2005. When I first logged on during my Sophomore year, I marveled at the various activities provided in one program. Yes, I still use flashcards and testing, though it would be nice to see an upgrade of their games. Match and Gravity are not practical when the definitions or terms are quite lengthy. If I were the content creators of Quizlet, I would add or replace those games with a new way to learn.
Evernote supplies simplicity. Whenever I used the program, I did not change any formats because I was unaware of them. After contemplating a way of improving Evernote, I thought it would be helpful to have a calendar note format or one for lists like Google Keep. When I looked at the settings for notes, I found they do have templates. These templates range from goal keeping to budget planning. Since they already provide my one suggestion, I cannot find more to critique Evernote on.
Any.do helps dissolve my worries about lengthy projects because I can make categories of to-do list items. I like the calendar feature and the ability to create lists. I have access to the webpage format, but I don’t think I’ll utilize it as much as the app. There are no suggestions I have for Any.do.
Overdrive makes reading and learning all that more enjoyable. They are a library of knowledge and that is it. They may receive more users if there was a social aspect to their application. An idea would be to have forums so users can share their recommendations and form a profile of the books they want to display. This is just a proposition, for Overdrive may prefer to leave the social aspect to programs like Goodreads.
When taking a moment to look at each application, I found more and more features that I love. It was difficult to suggest anything at all for they were so planned out. These apps know who their audiences are, and they work at supplying their users with everything they need.
To the Creators
The online websites and apps, Quizlet, Evernote, Any.do, and Overdrive, are not only highly commendable programs, but they strive to make student’s lives easier. Through reviewing how each one has helped me, I can see they do not ask for anything in return. I have used them extensively and not once did I pay for their services. Some of them have premium subscriptions, but it is not required of everyone.
The technology available to us today is more of an innovation than a time-waster to me. Some people, by their own choice, resent the internet and what it offers. They dislike it for how powerful it can be and they fear the amount of time spent behind a screen. I see how their apprehensions can be valid. However, with applications like Quizlet, Evernote, Any.do, and Overdrive, both productivity and knowledge increases. Creators of these apps want students to learn efficiently so they have more time for friends and helping others. Because of these creators, students all around the globe get to access information, study techniques, and organization tools right at their fingertips. I owe a lot to their work and I thank them all for helping me achieve my best.
To the Teachers
“Technology alone isn’t going to improve student achievement. The best combination is great teachers working with technology to engage students in the pursuit of the learning they need,” This quote from Arne Duncan says it all. I praise each of these apps in being greatly advantageous; however, any accomplishment in school is due to all of my teachers’ unwavering work.
A few teachers even introduced me to these resources online. They were the catalysts of all the opportunities that came my way. I am grateful for their time and energy put into their students’ educations.
The impact and influence of technology on not just my studying, but my life, is so profound. After reviewing each of these apps, I learned more about how I learn, and the techniques that work best for my success in school. The thoughtfulness and expertise of each program goes without saying. They all excel in the field they are in.
Now that I have found them, I will continue to use them during my time at college and even after.
Is technology a good career path? Read the article and find out if tech is a good path for you.
This post was written by our 2018 College Scholarship program winner
Laura Lin Weidemann.
From West Union, IA
Post Revised November 13, 2021.
Attending Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI
I am pursuing a degree in Dietetics/Nutrition at Viterbo University. As a dietitian, my dream is to guide individuals and communities to respect themselves through teaching them healthful habits. My philosophy is to focus on the client as a whole person, not just their symptoms or ailments. I will utilize nutrition and lifestyle changes to bring better physical, mental, and environmental health to the people I serve. It is my goal to one day prevent diseases on individual and community levels. Being in college gives me experiences that are vital to my credibility as a nutrition/health consultant and monumental to my personal growth.
Viterbo University is known as a great school with an exceptional dietetics/nutrition program. Here, I am learning all I can about research, science, and mostly nutrition. As a student, I am exploring topics of interest such as wellness, disease, and public health. Experiences like visiting health practices/clinics and meeting a public health professor/researcher, have expanded my interests toward community health. After graduating, I will work as a registered dietitian nutritionist and start applying for graduate schools. If you want to follow along with my journey, visit lauraweidemann.wordpress.com.