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27 study aids for student veterans — apps and gadgets for reading, notes, tests and more

January 31, 2017 (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sunshine Sachs)
If poring over a college text is making your eyes droop just thinking about it, download one of these apps before needlessly letting a single credit hour of education benefits slip away.

Experts on college campuses track the tech tools that best help students succeed, and the staff at Colorado State University highlighted those apps and devices with military students in mind during the institution’s Veterans Symposium in the fall of 2016.

The mobile apps are free or relatively low-cost, so there’s little risk in giving one a try. Reading, writing, note-taking, studying and test-taking are all covered.

Once you’re enrolled, your college may be able to set you up with premium desktop software for free that combines several functions and otherwise would cost as much as $1,400. Computer software including Wynn ($199-$595), Kurzweil 3000 ($1,395) and Read&Write Gold ($645) combine study tools, text-to-speech, highlighting, annotation, and more and are among those available at CSU.

Assistive technology services may be offered by varying departments depending on the campus — including IT or disability support — said CSU’s Shannon Lavey, who facilitates assistive technology through her institution’s occupational therapy department.

Such technology may be especially helpful to veterans with symptoms of post-traumatic stress or brain injury — or those who just never liked school to begin with. Here are more suggested technology supports for student veterans according to CSU’s Lavey and Andrew Flint (prices are approximate):

Voice Dream Reader iPad Screen Shot.PNG
An iPad screen shot of Voice Dream Reader ($14.99), a text-to-speech app that reads text on iOS devices aloud.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sunshine Sachs


Depending on your situation, three types of apps may help with reading assignments — text-to-speech, in which your device reads text to you aloud; software that visually displays one word of text at a time; and apps that let you take notes right on documents such as pdfs. (On Mac OS systems, text-to-speech is built in. Here are quick-start guides.) 

Inspiration Maps medicine close-up
Screen shot from the free iOS app Inspiration Maps.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sunshine Sachs


If grammar gets you into trouble, typing is torture or you tend to get stuck at the conceptual phase:

Livescribe 3 Pro
View of the Livescribe 3 Pro. Livescribe pens sync recorded audio with written notes.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sunshine Sachs


Modes of preserving the important points of lectures depending on your learning style: 

  • Livescribe Pen: Pen that syncs recorded audio precisely with written notes and uploads to digital formats ($100-$300)
  • Microsoft OneNote: Creation of digital notebooks for notes and lecture recordings (free)
  • Evernote: Cloud storage for creating and organizing notes and files (free-$5/month)
  • Notability: App for taking typed notes or handwritten notes with stylus ($5.99)
  • Voice Recorder HD: App for recording audio (free-$1.99)
  • Smart Voice Recorder: Built-in Android app for recording audio (free)


Apps can help with memorization:

  • Quizlet: Flash cards, memory games and more (free)
  • StudyBlue: Flash card-making software and app (free and paid versions)

Resources including a quiet room for testing — or even extra time for exams — may be possible if you work it out with your instructor. Also consider noise-canceling headphones to dial back the distractions.
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