Talk About School Gadgets, Win a Half-Terabyte of Portable Storage

By  |  Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 8:39 am

Seagate Free Agent Go[UPDATE: The contest is over--thanks to everyone who entered. We'll announce a winner shortly; if you have a comment here, you're in the drawing.]

Hey, it’s back-to-school time! I’m just glad I’m not going back to school myself, and I’m kind of amazed that it’s here already–back in the day, I don’t remember school starting until September. But we’re going to celebrate by giving away a snazzy 500GB Seagate FreeAgent Go Special Edition portable USB hard drive to a lucky member of the Technologizer community. (No, you don’t need to be a student at the moment to win it.)

The drive is a $169.99 value, has a red aluminum case (as shown at left), and comes with a docking station, and is provided courtesy of Seagate. I certainly would have found it useful in college, when I stored my data on 72KB floppy disks, although I seem to remember cranking out most of my papers on an electric typewriter–at least it had a built-in correction feature.

To enter, respond to this message in the comments and tell us about the gadgets you found (or find) most essential for high school or college–and/or the ones you wish you had but didn’t (or don’t). Please fill out the e-mail address field so we can contact you if you win the FreeAgent–it won’t be displayed publicly, and we won’t use it for anything other than conveying the happy news to you. (If you’re logged in as a WordPress.com user, you won’t have to enter your e-mail address–just make sure that the address associated with your WordPress account is current.)

We’ll close this contest at 5pm PT this Friday, August 21st 2009, choose a winner at random, and notify that person by the following Monday, August 24th. If you’re shy, you can also enter by dropping us a line with your e-mail address using this form.

Your favorite gadget for classwork could be something like one of these…

Calculator

Or this…

Typewriter

Or this…

Olympus Voice Recorder

Or even this…

MacBook Pro

Or maybe it’s something weird and unexpected.

Good luck and have fun!

 
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71 Comments For This Post

  1. Mike Reynaga Says:

    2 items do it for me:

    1) my iPhone, the voice recorder in 3.0 is strong enough to pick up the lectures and being able to access the data i have stored in the cloud (evernote, google docs, calendar, and media) is awesome.

    2) tablet with MS One Note. not much to say here, once you get used to one note its impossible to live without.

  2. Claudia Geels Says:

    Hi I’m a teacher, so this is a very nice challenge for me. I always liked to use my board with velcro strips to practise German verbs with my students, they liked it too and I had loads of little words and letters to go on there. I made that myself. Then I enjoyed it when they brought their laptop to show me a presentation they had made themselves in their best German. I love lots of gadgets and they always updated me on the latest finds and newest ones. ood luck with your challenge!
    Regards, Claudia Geels Didcot

  3. Daniel Says:

    Couldn’t have said it better than Mike!

  4. Venski Says:

    I’m probably sorry that the iPhone didn’t exist 7-8 years ago when I was a student, yet I managed to make it without one quite well.

    Another thing that I’d have found useful would be one of the e-book readers present today. It was quite hard to keep those 600-700-page books out of the eyes of the teachers during boring classes :D

  5. DZeroStar Says:

    My TI-85 graphing calculator was the most useful gadget I had in High School, and still quite useful in College.

    I wish I could have had a Palm Pre during college. In addition to being a phone, holding music, and having GPS to help me find all the good bar…um…restaurants!, it could help keep track of all of my classes, project deadlines, and test dates easily. More than once I showed up late to class only to find out that everyone else was halfway through a mid-term!

    A netbook to compliment a good PC would have been great as well. I think I would prefer that pair to a powerful but too-large notebook that does everything! Ultra-portability is key, or I’d never be able to use it at the cramped lecture-hall desks and would inevitably get tired of carrying the thing around.

  6. Dmon Says:

    I wish I had my iPhone at college. I agree with John Gruber (I think he said it) that the iPhone is the one gadget that I would take back in time 20 years ago to show what a future gadget could do.

  7. Michael Perlman Says:

    The TI-93 calculator, as geeky a tool it may be – was a helpful little gadget. It gave me quick access to all sorts of functions.

    Something I didn’t have in high school (I’ll be starting college) is a laptop, and based on my breif hands-on experience at the Apple Store with the new 13″ MacBook Pro, I’d say it would be a perfect computer for a student – it’s a perfect blend of size, speed, and practical features.

  8. Mike Cerm Says:

    I managed to make it all the way through college having never owned a laptop. I wish that laptops (and free Wi-Fi/affordable cellular-data) had been more pervasive when I was in school. Being able to work anywhere and carry your digital life around with you is very liberating. You really couldn’t do that, even just 5 years ago.

  9. ediedi Says:

    When I was in college, my instruments of choice were pen and paper. Unbeatable to this day for writing down lectures – if there are no manuals, as was the case for most of my courses at the university. A, and photocopiers… for those ‘rare’ missed lectures

  10. Peggy Says:

    Although is has been a few (ahem) years since I graduated from college, I would have LOVED a device that would take accurate notes of lectures.

    Due to a slightly damaged wrist (ouch, sensei), writing for long periods is painful. And typing is great if you have background training as a dictaphone user (something many people likely have never heard of). Otherwise you risk missing critical information.

    Heck, this would still be a wonderful thing in meetings.

  11. Timothy Cain Says:

    As others have already said, the iPhone is one of the ultimate tool for school. With all of the different apps you can go into just about any class and find something helpfully. The laptop is a close second and if Apple were to make the iPad that computers in general are all the best tools for learning.

  12. Jim Says:

    I remember my trusty TI-85, that I first used in high school. It helped me with my trigonometry and in college it helped me with all the formulas that I had to use in my statistics class. Surprisingly, the TI is still alive and kicking. My 12 year old classmates starting toting the TI around and that brought back FOND memories!

  13. lindsay Says:

    The one thing I could not live without in HS, College, and at work is my TI-83 calculator. Plus it was great to have since the nerds in my calc class put tetris on it. I still can’t believe the kids still use it, although they come in fun colors now!

  14. Mike Adkins Says:

    I, personally, love my laptop. I use it for everything all the time. I’m an very unorganized person by nature and it keeps me on track. I’ve always prefered typing over writing, as I am a much faster typist.

  15. infmom Says:

    I wish I’d had any of those gadgets when I was in high school and college, but in those days “high tech” was a portable typewriter. It seems so strange these days to think of having gone all the way through college before the portable calculator was invented, much less the portable computer (I learned “computers” on an IBM mainframe that filled a room and ate punch cards).

    What I would have liked was a way of typing my notes in class, or recording the lectures for reference (a tape recorder that held a reel that would cover an hour’s lecture would have been the size of a suitcase). It would have been heaven to have had a word processor instead of having to type multiple drafts of a long paper. Having my own phone instead of having to use the one phone in the hallway that everyone shared would have been a plus, too.

    Wow, I’m sure getting into “get off my lawn” territory, aren’t I? And I graduated from college in 1972.

  16. Chris Says:

    My NetBook! Fits in my bag, all day battery life, and fits easily on those small “desks” attached to the chairs!

  17. Drew Dennison Says:

    My favorite gadget for college will be my year-old Lenovo T61p laptop with a nVidia Quadro FX graphics card. I like the Quadro graphics because of my engineering programs. Also, I am very happy with Windows 7 64-bit. For math classes, my TI-89 and Mathmatica will be very helpful. Finally, I find my iPhone 3GS to be very useful (such as typing this comment).

  18. Anne Louise Bannon Says:

    Frankly, I do not know how I could have written the masters thesis for my theatre degree without the Apple IIe. Yes, this was back in the dark ages in 1984. My then-husband, an electrical engineer, had the Apple hooked up to borh a dot-matrix and a Juki letter-quality printer. I still remember the noise as the Juki cranked out my pages. My thesis committee also had an issue with why one of my footnotes appeared to have too big a space at the end, until I pointed out there had to be a hidden character in it. They didn’t quite understand that – I was the first student in the department to do a paper on a computer. But they did let it go, thank heavens.

    But that thesis was just the start. Desktop and later laptop computers literally made my writing career possible. Because without them, I don’t think I would have had the patience to re-write enough to actually finish something.

  19. tomlothian Says:

    I used our Osbourne computer to get through high school. We had several Epson printers but the printer I liked least was not an Epson but a Gorilla Banana Printer. I found a link on flickr for one of the old ads. http://www.flickr.com/photos/sa_steve/3178078174/ It printed 9’s and g’s hauntingly similar. I actually would bring the printer and computer to school when working on the student newspaper.

  20. Collyn Says:

    I wish I had an iPhone when I was in school. I get incredibly confused when I have 12 assignments on the go at once.

  21. David Crotty Says:

    Really the most important thing in my arsenal was the trusty 4 colored pen. So useful when copying down diagrams of DNA replication. Yes, I am old. I typed most of my college papers on my roommates Obsourne or a friend’s MacIntosh, whenever I could get him to stop playing Dark Castle.

  22. katmak Says:

    The internet as it is today alone would be something I wish I had access to when I went to school (shows you how long ago that was!). I had my cool, trusty HP-12c, which I still use today.

    If I had to pick a gadget I wish I had in school back then, I’d like to have one of those digital notepads that digitally captures and stores what you write or draw on paper without using a computer or special paper that you can later connect to a pc and it will save your notes to pdf, jpeg, etc. I wouldn’t necessarily use it myself but I would let my classmate that takes the best notes with the best handwriting use it and we can then distribute to other classmates for $1 per class -prices may go up if it’s college vs. highschool. =)

  23. Susan Says:

    My favorite gadget in college was my Smith Corolla electric typewriter! That back in the day before computers that weren’t bigger than a room. I would’ve loved to have had my Macbook and iPhone.

  24. Jeff Says:

    The gadgets I found most essential for high school was definitely my dot matrix printer. I must have written up dozens of reports using whatever version of WordPerfect ran on Windows 95 at the time.

    In college it was definitely my Toshiba Satellite laptop. I took it practically everywhere which was a challenge because it was so heavy. I loved how it gave me the freedom to write papers anywhere. The only issue I had with it was its tiny harddrive… only 500 megabytes. I think I used an iomega floppy drive to extend its life, but at a hundred mbs a disk, that soon got tiresome!

    Things I wish I had growing up: iPhone, Macbooks, laser printers.

  25. Ed Pierce Says:

    I was I had had my MacBook Pro in college. 1)It would have made note-taking much easier. 2)It would have made boring lectures more bearable. 3)I wouldn’t have had to reserve 2 a.m. time slots in the (flatbed) editing lab.

  26. Dattatray Says:

    I wish we were allowed to use laptops instead of notebooks to do our homework. (Even the punishments of writing lessons 50 times would have been easier by Copy-Paste).

    And an iPhone 3GS would have been great to record lectures so that you could refer to them again when you are studying for exams and you don't remember the concepts. Also there are a lot of educational apps being developed.

  27. Relyt Says:

    Well, I’m going to be entering High School in two weeks exactly, and my school is pretty high-tech. The Middle School just got new computers, and most teachers have a web site. Having a a computer is a must, and without my own I probably will be struggling! I have a great XP Desktop, so I can’t move it around, but hey, it works. Throughout researching online, pushing out papers in MS Word/OOo Writer, and taking/managing notes (bubbl.us), a computer is one thing that has definitely revolutionized the classroom!

  28. Samuel Says:

    I am currently a second year computer science student. One of the most essential tools I have come to depend upon is my iPod Touch. It helped me quickly check my e-mails while I am in school so that I don’t miss out on anything, and even jot down my homework list.

  29. Daniel Says:

    Entering my second year of college, I am so happy to have my Macbook Pro. It is my notepad, my weather-checker, my presentation-maker, my between-class entertainment… everything.

    Of course, my trusty flash drive is also nice to have :)

  30. Evan Says:

    I didn’t even have gadgets back in college, unless my stereo counts. If I had to do it again, a computer sure would have been nice, along with a pda of some sort, and a GPS for roadtrips.

  31. Chris F Says:

    I got to say I wish I netbooks would have been around when I was in school. Easy to carry, easy to use, and affordable. What else could a college kid ask for?

  32. Mr. Morozov Says:

    Apparently, it’s a broken record, but an iPhone or iPod touch really is the ultimate school supply. What do you need that it doesn’t have? Safari’s great for researching projects, the scientific calculator more than enough functions, voice recording picks up classes nicely, myhomework takes the place of a $20 assignment book, there are a ton of todo apps, flash card apps mean you never have to buy index cards again, the camera is good enough for any project, and the App Store has a gazillion education apps. I’m very happy I have the iPod touch with me for high school.

  33. realists Says:

    My Glock, quite honestly. If anyone does anything really screwed up, I can put a hollow point right between their eyes.

  34. TishTash Says:

    Well, the iPhone is definitely all that, but without a tactile keyboard, notetaking is far easier on a laptop. That being said, there’s plenty to be said about all those apps.

    Of course, what’s understood among all these comments is underlying whatever technology you bring to the table, it’s mostly useless if not for one thing: the internet. Yea, to be free from the bondages of microfilm and musty periodical indices!

  35. Dennis DIFranco Says:

    Best thing I have ever used, Still use it today… A pen and stickynotes!
    Another thing that is so useful to me is my scanner, I use it to file away all of my papers and tests.

  36. thehumanyawn Says:

    I wish I had a MacBook Pro because my school district is all-Mac and they use a lot of Mac-specific programs. I also wish I had a mobile broadband card (personal computers aren’t allowed on the network). But I do find my laptop indispensable when it comes to crowded computer labs, and because of the small and unreliable network storage, my flash drive is probably the most important tool I have.

  37. @hmad Says:

    it’s a calculator?

  38. TGJ Says:

    Back in the distant past of the late 1990s, I remember transporting project files for my Graphical Design course between home and school on an Iomega Zip drive. I marvelled at how something so small (the size of three stacked 3.5″ floppy discs) could hold so much data (100MB).

  39. Stilgar Says:

    When I was in college, the TI-85 was the hot calculator to have. However, I rocked it out with an HP 48G which had many more features AND it was RPN!

  40. sfmitch Says:

    Not a lot of gadgets when I went to school. Does my AMD 386/40 PC Tower count as a gadget?

  41. Backlin Says:

    My favorite gadget in high school (during the mid-2000s) was the good ol’ TI-85. I was one of the geeks that wrote all kinds of programs on them (my school had a stash that I went absolutely crazy on). I remember making this simple program that made people think the calculator was frozen (the program cleared the screen and repeated itself).

    When it comes to college, the netbook is a godsend. My college doesn’t watch the wireless network users, I can play all my favorite old games (even emulate the old console games) and do some heavy duty scientific calculations.

  42. nolagal Says:

    If I’d had a laptop I would have saved so much time writing my papers. The number of drafts and re-writes, on a good old IBM Selectric took way too much of my time… and talk about stress and aggravation when you’d see a missing word and have to go back and re-type the whole page! I went back to school in the last 80’s to get my undergraduate degree and my Dad had bought a bunch of KAYPRO computers thinking they were the best thing since sliced bread. The KAYPRO computer was much better than the Selectric, but they would invariably crash and loose entire content… way more stressful having to rewrite from scratch than just retype! Certainly, laptop and INTERNET for reserach purposes gets my vote of what I wished I’d had.

  43. kingoftowns Says:

    laptop and wireless card are all I need.

  44. JDoors Says:

    LOL! Post reminds me of bringing my first basic calculator to class. As I was using it a teacher asked me what it was. I told him, “It’s a calculator, cost me forty bucks.” He said, “It CAN’T be a calculator — I own one and they cost over five hundred dollars!” So while he watched I did some simple math with it. He just could not accept that it was the real thing. I don’t know WHAT he thought it was … Guess that’s proof of A.C. Clarke’s observation that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic!

    By the following year I had a significantly advanced calculator; smaller, more functions, rechargeable, and I wondered what that teacher would have done had he seen it instead of that basic one. Probably banish me from the Kingdom, burn me at the stake, or something equally medieval. :D

  45. Calum Says:

    Without a doubt it had to be my MacBook. It was such a relief throughout college and my first year of university. The size and battery made it perfect for lugging to lectures, but also served great as my main computer back in my room.

    In fact, it was so useful that I’ve just bought a new 13″ MacBook Pro for my next two years of university. I would find life very difficult for a while if I didn’t have it.

  46. ian Says:

    I’d have to go with my macbook pro. It does everything I need and I can run windows when i need it.

  47. Ben Matthews Says:

    I bring a laptop with me every day to campus (I live off campus), along with headphones, and occasionally a PSP. This year I’ll be switching the laptop for a netbook to remove probably 5 pounds from my backpack.

    I used to have an ebook reader, a Sony PRS-505, and I really liked having that. It was nice to be able to kick back and read off something that hardly added any weight to my travel. I would like to get a Kindle 2 or maybe a Kindle DX, but unless textbooks were more readily available for these devices (and at cheaper prices) I’m not sure I could justify the cost.

  48. Alli Flowers Says:

    As a teacher, I have two tools that I can no longer live without in my classroom. The first is a CPS chalkboard, which allows me to write on a virtual chalkboard (via an lcd projector) so that a) I never have to turn my back to my little demons, er, darlings and b) I can print out the notes I write on the board from any given day for a student who needs extra help or who missed class.

    I am also quite dependent on Evernote (http://evernote.com) for capturing photos, text, anything I find at home for use in my classroom. I still can’t believe this is a free service!

  49. quiddity Says:

    I’m a technician in a university setting, and my vote for handy gadget goes to the flash drive. We always seem to have to transfer files from lab computer to personal computer to classmate’s computer for group projects, and from platform to platform. Remember the days of floppy disks, which weren’t that reliable, and SCSI external hard drives (shudder) and Zip disks, which were pricey, and a reasonable solution till they turned killer on you. Flashdrives are USB, and cheap, and Macs accept the PC formatted ones so you can go cross-platform, and almost (but not quite) indestructible (I have heard of a couple that went through the wash).

    Although I’m thinking I’d hate to have to go through school without the MacBook.

  50. fefzero Says:

    I’m with quiddity, school life really changed for me once I got my first flash drive. It made moving data between campus computer labs and my home computer much easier. The next year I got a laptop, and I used it so much that the screen detached from the rest of the computer. Ever since then I’ve had a laptop as my sidekick, and I never really needed much else because with the right software the laptop does it all.

  51. Snider Says:

    I agree with fefzero. With the right combo of hard/software, a laptop could fill all the needs of a demanding student. I’ve even begun phasing out flash drives in favor of online storage, such as dropbox or mediafire. (Of course, nothing beats external HDs when it comes to large file transfers.)

    And, despite iPhone’s extensive development into this area, any bluetooth enabled phone + evernote is all I’d ever need. :)

  52. choirguy Says:

    I’m a high school choir director at a brand new high school, and technology is one of our four “pillars.” I also happen to be one of our technology integrations specialists, meaning that I get to help other teachers use (at the moment, it’s more “set-up” as school doesn’t start yet) technology in their rooms. Each of our rooms has a SMART Board, and a voice amplification system. The decision to go with SMART instead of other competitors was a district decision…members of our planning team were leaning toward the Promethean or the PolyVision boards. At any rate, we’re firmly convinced that Interactive White Boards are a key component of teaching in the 21st century, along with the accessories you can buy, such as student response systems (clickers) or document cameras. Each teacher has a laptop as well, so that they can work at school or home (we haven’t quite figured out what to do when a teacher is ill and brings the computer home with them…what does the sub do? How do they access that teacher’s presentation?

    In my area of music, we have a lot of traditional instruments, including a fantastic Yamaha CFIIIS. Wow. But we also have a number of digital instruments, particularly a Yamaha Clavinova Grand for the choir room (interacts with a laptop and Finale, a music notation software package), as well as a Roland FP7 keyboard in each practice room with a netbook, capable of playing SmartMusic (intelligent accompaniment for instrumentalists or singers, from MakeMusic).

    In addition, we have 5 2nd Generation iPod Touches (8GB models) for choir sectionals and individual practice (you can make rehearsal files with Finale, and many music publishers print CDs with vocal literature these days), each with a thumbtac mic (for recording) as well as a boombucket (now discontinued) by Brookstone (a great product that allows you to take music anywhere without power…it is super-portable and has a rechargeable battery). Each iPod Touch has a number of great music ed apps, such as ClearTune, iPro Recorder, Tempo, MooCow Pianist, and Guitar Toolkit among others. Nice that the school can buy the programs once and then use the same program on all 5 of its iPod Touches.

    We also have a MIDI lab with full versions of Finale, Audacity, and CuBase. Each MIDI station (there are 17) has a monitor mounted on a swing arm, computer (desktop), M-Audio USB keyboard, and microphone. Each station is a mini recording studio.

    We also have a few other nice items, such as the new H4n Zoom stereo recorder, and digital picture frames for our group pictures (At my previous school, We used to buy a print and frame every year and mount them on the back wall. Counted them up the other day and more than $700 had been invested in that project over 10 years…the digital frame is cheaper in the long run and takes up less space).

    We also have other standard “electronic” equipment such as guitar tuners, band strobe tuner, electronic instruments (vibraphone, bass guitar), and PA system (went with a complete system by Carvin). We also each have a MusicPad from Freehand Systems. If you haven’t seen these devices, they are awesome and represent the future (death?) of printed music with light, more durable devices (OLED?).

    That may seem excessive, but in a high school based on technology, it is how music ought to be done in the 21st century. We actually cut back the original technology plan significantly in our area.

    All that said, my use of technology still comes to two devices: my iPhone, and my ability to access any of my collection of apps (music or otherwise) as well as the ability to check e-mail (Exchange server at school) anywhere within the wi-fi enabled school. I also fall back on my personal laptop (now a MacBook unibody, late 2008, the one that has the backlit keyboard) which has my extensive collection of music on its hard drive, so I have access to examples as necessary when I teach choir, guitar, music theory, or music history.

    These are my extensive school gadgets…and we use every last one of them.

  53. Sleepydude Says:

    The iPhone without a doubt.

  54. Lois Shores Says:

    I did my work with pen and paper or on an electric typewriter.

    A Notebook would have been a blessing.

  55. maguay Says:

    My most useful tech tools for college are:
    1)My Windows Mobile phone (T-Mobile Dash) – Can’t imagine how I got through my first year without it. I use it for everything from email, editing group documents, checking classes online, listening to lectures, and even submitting homework online.
    2)My desktop (does this even need to be said … seems so obveous!)
    3)A flash drive – all my homework is always with me
    4)Skydrive (http://skydrive.live.com) – all my homework is also in the cloud, which has been very helpful in more than one instance.
    5)”Previous Versions” feature in Vista/7 – this has recovered my homework more times than I wish to remember!

  56. Megan "Best Netbook 2009" Says:

    i love netbook

  57. Felipe Conde Says:

    items i wish at college :
    – netbook.
    – integrated desk-tablet(college should support us with one).
    – good WiFi network
    – some smartphone

    I had none =~

  58. Patrick Says:

    Microsoft OneNote has been really useful for taking notes. Sometimes I wish I had a tablet to make drawing pictures easier though.

  59. Chan Le Van Hong Says:

    I don’t know how can i live in my high school years without the help of the calculator Casio FX-570ES. It did help me a lots on most of the science subjects: Math, Physics, Chemistry…

    A laptop was always in my wish list. It would help me on making presentations and doing homeworks everywhere. However, i didn’t have one till i left high school.

  60. John P Says:

    Back when I started college, all I required was: a desktop computer at home and a USB Zip drive (250) with a couple of disks so that I could access my work on the lab computers. Flash drives were not available yet.

    Toward the end of my college “experience”, I had dropped the zip disks. Instead, I had a desktop at home with broadband and online storage for lab/home file access. Later, I got a laptop for note-taking during class.

    If I was a student today I would consider the following gadgets indispensable:
    1. Midrange or higher desktop at home/dorm for gaming, coding, writing papers, etc. (I despise coding on laptops (even desktop replacements) for more than 20 minutes.
    2. Desktop replacement laptop for lan parties, quick coding, backup computer, road trips, etc.
    3. A netbook (10″ screen) for general use on campus, class note-taking, etc.
    4. A flash-based digital music player with at least 16GB of space.
    5. A smartphone so that I can get notifications of emails from project collaborators/co-conspirators.

  61. John P Says:

    I forgot to add one thing, I would not have been able to survive calculus or physics without my trusty TI-89. In fact, the broad availability of free games for it helped me to survive the more boring classes as well.

  62. Josh Says:

    This is both a flashback to tech I had in college, and what now I recommend to my students. Back in the day, before laptops were ubiquitous (but right as desktops were becoming more common) I used some hard-earned scholarship money to buy a Brother-brand electric typewriter with built in “word processor” and disk drive. The screen was two characters high and this behemoth was “portable” in the sense that ostensibly I could move it from desk to floor if so desired. And when it printed? It sounded like a typewriter on automatic. Still, I would not have survived college without it and being able to save my papers as files (which, sadly, are long lost since it saved to some odd proprietary format) was a godsend.

    Today, as a college instructor, I always recommend Evernote (www.evernote.com) to my students. It’s free and works in ways that correlate with different learning types and note-taking preferences, as well as being accessible from so many different devices and formats (downloadable client on Windows, Mac, iPhone, Windows Mobile, or via a web interface through the Evernote site). It can import text typed directly, copied from web pages, images, etc. and I often use the built-in screenshot capture to convert images I find online or in Google Book results into handy GIF files.

  63. Kelly Says:

    A good notebook or netbook users needs a great bag to carry it in. I personally like the Targus Grove eco-friendly convertible backpack/messenger. The thing will last forever- beyond school. Also cool for school is the AVerTVHD so you can view HDTV from your laptop, in your dorm, student union, where ever…

  64. Steve Bell Says:

    A timetable/to do list planner; flat, palm-sized and all touchscreen; so you can enter tasks into timeslots and slide them around to fit your day; leaving spare time in big usable chunks, not irritating littel 10-minute fragments.

  65. kasia Says:

    The one gadget I really, really, really wish I had in my undergrad is a Kindle or another book reader; they’re just so convenient and light, especially if you’re constantly reading.

    I would have also loved to have a laptop or a netbook to bring to class and for writing papers instead of spending countless hours at the library. And I guess I would have also needed reliable internet, and preferably wifi.

    Ah, the kids these days have it made :)

  66. Peter Says:

    I love my TI Nspire graphing calculator, the new kiknd with the high-res screen and the switchable keyboard. It hasn’t really hit the mainstream yet but this looks to be the year it will catch on.

    I really wish I had a Pulse Pen, a gadget that records notes and audio information while you are writing with it. Amazing.

  67. Eyhk Says:

    Wikipedia on a phone, one-stop shop for all the useless facts the schools try to cram into your brain.

  68. Susan Says:

    The very best gadget I’ve ever seen for school is the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen. This thing is amazing, and though I’m no longer a student, I can see how it would make taking notes easy and useful. It records audio as you write, you can search your written documents, and with MyScribe you can even have the handwriting converted into text. I wish I had had this as a student–for those times when you doze off during lecture, especially–the pen would record what you couldn’t get down on paper. I use it now mainly for taking notes at faculty meetings, but it almost makes me want to go back to school!

  69. Javier Says:

    One thing I wished I had in college, a laptop or netbook. Going to the computer lab to type reports was a pain.

  70. David Says:

    Most essential to school was my HP 28S. Still chugging along 20+ years later!

    I wish I had an iPod. Many late nights in the library with my “portable” CD player, wall wart and a stack of CDs.

  71. Andy Maslin Says:

    This list is pretty quick and to the point:
    1) Laptop – I didn’t have one, but the flexibility it would have provided is obvious.
    2) A smart phone – I didn’t always think this way, but a smartphone allows you to be in contact with your teachers and classmates wherever you are. Need to e-mail an assignment to a teacher? No problem, even if you’re at the store. And it can double as a flash drive when needed.
    3) Flash drive – waaay better than the floppy disks I used. Just don’t forget to back it up.

    While there are lots of other gadgets to be had, they will largely be effective in more specific circumstances. To me, these are the mpst flexible and useful items.

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