I wanted to just share a couple of tools that I use all the time to study, research, etc. I also use them in my personal life too, for just about everything. These are two tools that are free and do not require additional hardware devices, but are both greatly enhanced by the addition of mobile devices.
First is Evernote. Evernote is an incredible digital notebook that you can use to store just about any type of information you want, up to and including pictures, audio recordings, and entire web pages. All of the text is indexed and becomes searchable in mere seconds or minutes, including any text that is legible in photos! This also means that if you have a .pdf file that is not ordinarily text-based (i.e. the pdf was scanned in) that you can still search inside that pdf for keywords. Visit evernote.com and click on the link to watch the intro video. If you have mobile devices such as an iPhone or iPad, all your notes are sync’d across all your devices automatically over the web.
Next is Instapaper. I’m sad to admit that I’m just recently getting around to using Instapaper… this site is awesome. You create a free account, and then you can drag a small “bookmarklet” that says “Read Later” onto your shortcuts bar in your browser. Then, as you’re reading a website, if you’d like to save it for later, just click that button. This also works with RSS feeds in Google Reader, and many apps for the iPhone/iPad are including the functionality to “Send to Instapaper.” For example, as my fellow grad students post articles on their blogs, I will often click “Send to Instapaper” so that even after my RSS reader moves on to newer items, I can still refer back to the original. Go watch this short video from Tekzilla about the web version of Instapaper. Like Evernote, there are versions for the iPhone and iPad (which is where I use it the most by far), and you also have the option of exporting the articles in Kindle format, if you’re into that sort of thing.
I don’t know if I could survive taking two online courses simultaneously without these two apps. If you have lots of information to store/sort through/read, you owe it to yourself to check out these two sites. Enjoy!