Welcome to the Student Innovator Blog

Welcome to the Student Innovator Blog

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The Student Innovators is a group of students passionate about using technology to help learning. They will be trying out apps and web tools alongside their studies and give feedback on the Student Innovator blog. They work together as a team to share their experiences so you know before you download which app is best. You are welcome to read their reviews and leave comments.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

StudyBlue by Louis

Name of App: StudyBlue

Cost: Free

Device/s used: SAMSUNG(Android)

What was good about this tool?
It includes lots of different subjects, from science to languages. You just simply type in a subject, for example physics, and it will show you lots of useful topics like net force and Newton's second law. It also includes a little quiz for each subject that you can use to check if you remember. It is a nice app for doing revision.

What was bad about this tool?
I have not found any bad things about this app. It is great.

CamScanner Review - By Mustafa Mahmoud

CamScanner review – 

Not what I expected

I walked into this app with great expectations, after all, it was an app that worked as an OCR reader. Yes, an OCR reader. How cool is that??!! I would be able to scan all my notes that I've made over the year and combine into a nice neat package. Unfortunately this wasn't the case.

CamScanner does have an OCR reader, and from its average rating of 4.4 on the Play Store, it probably works really well, however I wasn't able to test it out myself as it was locked behind a pay wall, and a pretty hefty one at that. Without paying, all you get is the ability to take pictures and put them in a PDF file. That’s it. There’s an option to optically recognise the characters, although after selection it just says that you need to pay to use this feature. For some, taking pictures and turning them into PDF files is all they wanted, and for them I would recommend CamScanner. After all, it’s not a bad app, you can save the files to your phone/tablet, share it on social media and it even syncs between devices (it also has cloud storage). But for me, the most exciting feature was the ability to take written work, scan it, and turn it into an editable word document, but in can’t do that.

You may be wondering how much this subscription fee is. Well, its $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year (around £3.30 and £33 respectively), which in my opinion is way too much to pay. The description of the app even touts how it has over 100 million downloads, but I doubt many of them paid the premium at a price that high. I don’t see how this has a market at that price, especially considering how a physical OCR scanner can be bought for around £50 and professional software can be bought for roughly the same (which both undoubtedly work better than a simple app). 

So for those who are looking to turn photos into PDFs, this is the app for you, if on the other hand, you want to use it as and OCR reader, you should look elsewhere as for the price of 1 year service, you could buy a proper OCR reader that will last a lifetime. It may seem like I'm hating on the app a bit too much, but I'm not. The app itself is good looking and relatively easy to navigate, I'm just disappointed with what I thought was going to be an amazing app. 

CamScanner can be downloaded from here:

The website can be accessed from here

By Mustafa Mahmoud

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Skitch by Hayley

Name of App: Skitch

Cost: Free

Device/s used: Apple iPhone

What was good about this tool?

I found this application very useful when taking photographs or looking at maps you're able to annotate these. There is also a section where you're able to write quick notes and draw quick sketches and annotate these too. I found the most useful thing on this app the PDF annotation as a lot of documents are in this format and i found this useful when writing essays for my course.

What was bad about this tool?

There isn't anything bad about this app that i have found yet.

Canva by Hayley

Name of App:  Canva

Cost: Free

Device/s used: iPad

What was good about this tool?
This app was very useful as you're able to make posters and notices. I found this very useful when having to make notices. It was made in its own way for a more visual and engaging announcements. You can also access this application online making it accessible from anywhere. I can download my posters as a PDF or an image. Canva has a wide range of infographics and I can use my own images too. You can use a variety of templates or create your own.

What was bad about this tool?

I felt the bad thing about this application is that it can only be downloaded on an Apple iPad. Due to me using my iPhone more I felt this wasn't very helpful. In my opinion I didn't find it very useful as I'm used to the format of Word and Publisher and having to adapt to this app wasn't in my interest. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Pinterest by Rory

Name of App: Pinterest 

Cost: Free

Device/s used: iPhone

What was good about this tool? 
I liked this application a lot. It was a clear usable app, and had similar traits to a social networking app. As you could follow your friends on the app by linking it up with Facebook. Its a very interesting App as you can find a huge variety of different topics on the App. So it is perfect for everyone as it is focused on different things. 

What was bad about this tool? 
The only bad thing about this App really is that it is slightly similar to apps such as Instagram and Tumbler. Where you share photos and people can like them. However, it is slightly different as Pinterest gives you clear cut categories to put your options into. 

Flowboard by Rory

Name of App: Flowboard 

Cost: Free

Device/s used: iPad

What was good about this tool? Not at all if I'm really honest. It was a PowerPoint similar application that you could make presentations on, but that was it. 

What was bad about this tool? I found it a more difficult version of Microsoft PowerPoint. When all it did was the same as powerpoint. I wouldn't personally use Flowboard as it would be more effort trying to download the app rather than just using what is already on your computer, and it isn't really very good.  

Monday, 12 January 2015

MindGenius by Connie

Name of App: MindGenius

Cost: Free

Device/s used: iPad

What was good about this tool? 
The ability to form a mind map on an electrical advise, and more specifically an iPad is really useful. You can keep it together with the rest of your work so nothing gets lost. There is no drawing involved, to add a 'sibling' or 'child' branch you just click and type. This app stores all of your mind maps and to create a new one you just press the 'plus' button. 

What was bad about this tool?
However I would still rather draw by hand as this gives you more flexibility. MindGenius does not allow you to change the colour or shape of the branches and minimal movement in where they actually are on the page. Therefore as it is free it is good to have but i would not use it all of the time. 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

WolframAlpha review - By Mustafa Mahmoud

WolframAlpha review

Possibly the best app ever

WolframAlpha is an app (and website) that has basically been in development for over 25 years, and it shows. It is what every single student craves, an app/website that tells them exactly what they want to know. It could be compared to Google, if all the websites on the internet were a part of Google itself. So what exactly is WolframAlpha? 

WolframAlpha is a computational knowledge engine that answers factual queries directly by computing the answer from externally sourced "curated data", rather than providing a list of documents or web pages that might contain the answer as a search engine might. This means that you can throw almost any question at it (within reason) and it should be able to provide an answer. There is one caveat though – most of its features are hidden behind a subscription fee. These features include:

Being able to upload:
  - Raw tabular data
  - Images
  - Audio
  - XML 
  - Many different scientific, medical and mathematical formats all for automatic analysis.
An extended keyboard
Interactivity with CDF
Data downloads
The ability to customise and save graphical and tabular results
Extra computation time
And arguably the best feature, an in-depth step by step solution

Testing it out

Unfortunately WolframAlpha is focused mainly on scientific and mathematical data, although it can still answer many other questions. The business model is rather interesting as they approached it in many different ways. The app is a dumbed down version of the website. As it is a paid app (£2) it offers everything that the premium desktop version does, minus anything that requires uploading. What’s odd however is that iOS offers an even more dumbed down version for free, and a pro version at the aforementioned price. Android only has the paid alternative. The desktop version has both a free and premium version, with the premium subscription costing $5.49 ($3.75 for students) a month. Overtime this can stack up, making WolframAlpha quite a costly investment. My recommendation would be to test the app first (if you’re on iOS) or to just check out the website. If you like what you see, then you can invest, and if not, well it’ll always be waiting for you regardless.

WolframAlpha is available on android and iOS.

It can also be accessed here.

By Mustafa Mahmoud

Mystudylife review - By Mustafa Mahmoud

My study life

Organising your student life

I’ve been wanting to use and review this app for a while but haven’t done so due to many reasons. Over time a certain hype was built up towards the app, and once I finally used it, I wasn’t disappointed. You may wonder why it was so difficult for me to muster up the energy to use the app, and I shall tell you why.

The app allows you to sign up either through google, Facebook, or email and syncs with all your devices through the cloud. Next you must then set up your timetable with all your classes, any upcoming exams and any other tasks you need to complete. This is the tedious part of setting up the app. I am naturally lazy and put it off for as long as possible, however I wish I hadn’t.

Once your account is all set up, my study life is a brilliant way of keeping up with your work, knowing what to do and when. It’s got 4 main functions. The first is to inform you of anything that you have today, the second is to inform you of any upcoming exams, and the third is to remind you of your upcoming classes while the fourth reminds you of any general tasks that you need to do. All of this is accessible and visible through the dashboard. A calendar that allows you see further ahead (weekly or monthly) is accessible through a swipe of the sidebar. You receive timely notifications on any tasks that are coming up soon. The website version is just as practical and even more beautiful than the app (the app’s UI is very eye pleasing) with slick animations visible through almost any action. A chrome extension can also be downloaded to allow push notifications and the like.

Basic UI walkthrough

The only complaints I can think of is the long setup time (although necessary) and the fact that being an American app, not everything is compatible here in the UK (mainly things such as the use of semesters instead of terms).

Overall my study life is a great app that makes your student life just that much more organised. I would highly recommend it to any student who’s looking for a modern PDA like experience, or to those who just seem to forget about a homework assignment given the previous week.

My study life is available on Android, iOS, Windows 8 and Chrome.
you can access the website from here

 By Mustafa Mahmoud