In today’s digitalized world, computers are becoming increasingly popular as learning devices. Regardless of whether you’re using it for school or tuition classes, it is important to have the right software to make learning convenient, and even enjoyable. You probably already have your favorite browser and installed some basic software, but finding ones that are actually useful and effective (and not to mention, free!) for your learning can be challenging.
With that being said, here are the top 5 free software that we recommend here at Zenith, Singapore’s top secondary and JC tuition center. With these software, you do not have to sacrifice quality even though it’s free. Some of them even serve the exact functions that companies and other businesses are paying big money for. Thus, it’s wise for you to take advantage of these resources as much as you can!
1. Google Suite
The Google suite is our top pick for software that are student-friendly. It is very straightforward, you can access their wide range of functionalities that allow you to create basic documents, spreadsheets, and beautiful presentations online. Their various applications are guaranteed to support you through all your learning needs. These applications are great for a plethora of work functions, helping you to tide through painful note-taking and various other school activities to study with greater productivity. Most importantly, they are amazing for collaborative work, like school projects.
Google Docs is a great word-processing software, allowing for real-time collaboration, keeps a history of changes, tracks changes that were made, and autosaves work that is done. It even has an offline work mode so you can work from anywhere, file storage and file exporting to make submitting assignments conveniently, and more. Most importantly it allows you to stay organized by instantly being able to see the most recent version of what you’ve written. Here’s an additional tip- Google Docs has a voice typing function, where it directly picks up voice information and transcribes what you (or your teachers) say! To do this, simply click on ‘Tools’ on the document itself, and click ‘Voice typing’. After which, click on the microphone button in the pop-out to activate the function.
Google Slides is not like any other presentation-making application. It is built for collaboration, where you easily have the ability to share, edit or even comment on a presentation with your group mates. All of these functions can also occur in real-time! Everyone can work on the presentation simultaneously. This will definitely save lots of unnecessary meetings and makes for more convenient learning. Like Google Docs, Google Slides also has an offline editing mode where an internet connection is not needed to edit the presentation. Presentations on Google Slides can also be accessed from any device, making working on these presentations easier than ever. To make things even better, there are lots of platforms specializing in creating presentation templates that are compatible with Google Slides, like Slidesgo and SlidesCarnival, opening up plenty of options for your presentation format and preferred design aesthetic!
Google Drive is also an asset that all students like yourself should know how to take advantage of. It stores files, backup data, and collaborative work in Google drive. There are many benefits to storing your files in Google Drive, but two are key. Not only does it make it easier to access your files from just about any computer, tablet, or phone with an internet connection, it also is a good way to safeguard your valuable notes and files by having them automatically backed up. Google Drive autosaves regularly, so if your computer dies or worse- you accidentally delete your work, you can get it all back with just a click of a mouse. Should you find that the amount of space you are given for free (5 GB) is not enough, you can easily upgrade the storage to a paid package- and the prices are surprisingly reasonable, even for a large amount of space.
Although not the most advanced, the Google suite includes all the familiar editing tools such as font changing, text editing, cell editing, and more. You can also upload your existing files in other formats! For school-level work, the Google Suite is everything you can ask for. What’s better is that it is free of charge!
Many of Zenith’s students and tutors are all over the Notion hype. This is simply because Notion is one of the most flexible productivity apps out there! It is an all-in-one productivity solution and can be used as a writing repository, task management software, an exercise calendar, a database, and so much more. What’s even better is that you can connect your data in each of those projects to each other, so your exercise calendar, for example, can reference your journal entries. With the help of Notion, you will definitely be one step closer to acing your exams! You can also find other ways to study smart in our article here.
Notion’s game-like interface makes it feel less like a serious and boring productivity application, and more importantly, makes it fun to use. Its ultra user-friendly functions are also just amazing.
Fig 1. What Notion’s task list function looks like
Let’s use their built-in task list function as an example. If you have Economics tuition coming up, am currently taking your dog, Fig, on a walk, and have just finished your Chemistry tutorial, you¡ can simply drag and drop ‘Chemistry Tutorial’ from the ‘Doing’ to ‘Done’ section, and drag ‘Economics Tuition’ from ‘To Do’ to ‘Doing’ later, and so on.
However, the extent of what Notion can do does not just stop there. There are also tons of templates that you can use, both by Notion itself, and those created by other users like yourself. With the help of these easily accessible templates, you can customize Notion to fit your tastes and preferences exactly, making it the most comfortable productivity application tailored precisely to you.
Fig 2. A range of templates on Notion for your every need
Notion is a tool that encourages and supports a centralized personal organization system, as opposed to the decentralized systems that we would have cobbled together beforehand (For instance, a mix of Microsoft Onenote, Apple Notes, Google Docs, and more…). That is precisely what makes Notion an amazing software for students to use, as it will help to neatly categorize and plan your (often hectic) workload.
This one is for all the students out there who prefer digital note-taking with a stylus and tablet, instead of using the good old pen and paper.
Ease of use
Fig 3. Sample view of OneNote’s capabilities
Like it or not, you’re going to spend lots of time taking notes. OneNote is great for that, especially if you have a touchscreen PC or tablet that allows you to scribble, highlight, and mark things up with a pen. Better yet, OneNote also frequently auto-updates the notes you took on OneDrive, meaning that the notes you take will automatically show up on the OneNote application on your laptop. With OneNote, you won’t have to painstakingly copy your notes to your laptop from the handwritten ones on your tablet, and vice versa. This convenient feature will save you a load of time, and make learning much easier and fuss-free.
OneNote also does plenty that is beyond note-taking. It can also serve as a key hub for all your essential work and shared files! You can share notebooks with your friends as well, so you have one place to brainstorm ideas for group projects. Microsoft has also done a great job at making a mobile version of OneNote, for iOS and Android devices, which means that you can access the notes you have taken from just about any device. To top it all off, OneNote is free for anyone to use, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank for a paid upgrade scheme for extra storage or features.
Ever found yourself in the middle of a group project, unsatisfied with your presentation? We certainly have. You wouldn’t want a messy presentation that is lacking in proper organization. That is why, here at Zenith, many of us use Slidesgo to make our jobs easier. As the top JC and secondary school tuition center in Singapore, we always want to ensure that our presentations are neat, tidy, easy to understand, and easy to remember.
Fig 4. What a typical slide template from Slidesgo may look like
Slidesgo does a great job at simplifying the process of finding a creative presentation template that will convey all your ideas, and at the same time, tell a convincing story to your audience. There are hundreds of presentation templates that can be found on Slidesgo which are all editable, and mostly free. Slidesgo templates are 100% compatible with both Google Slides and Microsoft Powerpoint, meaning that the templates can be edited fully on Google Slides and Microsoft Powerpoint to fit your tastes and liking. To make your job easier, these templates already provide a rough outline of what your presentation flow might be like, so if you find one that completely fits your needs, you only need to edit the content! Even better, Slidesgo has just recently added new ways of helping you to find the perfect presentation template that best suits your needs, with functions like “Sorting templates by color” and “Sorting templates by style”. Cool, right?
Tailored to your needs
Fig 5. Other templates you can find on Slidesgo
From simple and clean slide designs to fun and colorful ones, you can surfeit in the sheer diversity of presentation templates that you can find on Slidesgo. It offers an extensive catalog of free Google Slides and Microsoft Powerpoint themes for professional, creative, school, or even personal presentations. These templates are also customizable to suit any need you have, making possibilities endless. With this tool, students like yourself are guaranteed to have an easy time designing and preparing your project presentations, without having to worry about the nitty-gritty details.
Zenith’s last recommendation for software is LibreOffice. It is a free, Microsoft-compatible office suite that is easy to use. Just about anyone can use LibreOffice for their work.
Extensive work functions, free of charge
It is impossible to imagine spending very long without using some kind of office suite to get work done. The default choice for many is Microsoft Office, but there is really no need for you to have to pay a monthly, annual, or even a one-off cost for your software- LibreOffice is completely free of charge and is a genuinely viable rival to Microsoft Office. LibreOffice is also fully compatible with the Microsoft Office suite, meaning that, unlike other free office suites, you can import and edit your files in Microsoft Office as well, if needed.
LibreOffice includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, and even a database, formulae app, and a vector graphics editor. Now that’s a lot of functions for something free of charge and free of advertisement!
LibreOffice uses the same interface and offers the same features across every platform it supports, so you do not have to worry about missing out on certain features just because you use a Mac instead of a Windows computer, for example. LibreOffice’s main menu lets you create or open any kind of document that the suite can create, and displays previews of recent files. You can also open each of the word-processing, spreadsheet, and any other app directly from the start menu. This consistent and easy interface makes for a smooth user experience that does not compromise on quality like many other free Office Suites tend to.
Your ‘O’ Level and ‘A’ Level journey can most certainly be a daunting one. But fret not, as there are tons of resources out there that can help make your educational journey a more effective and easier one. With the advanced technologies that are readily available today, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find applications or software that can help facilitate your learning. However, if you ever feel that you are still having a hard time grasping or applying the concepts taught to you, feel free to read some of our useful articles here, or sign up for a FREE trial class here at Zenith Education Studio! Our passionate tutors are always ready to help you through your educational journey with the best resources, a proven track record, engaging and effective lessons, and 24/7 support for your academics and beyond. Want to be part of the fun-loving Zenith family? We are more than happy to have you (and your friends) be part of our warm and friendly community of students who work hard, play hard and laugh a lot in class! Find out more about our top programs here, and sign up for a free trial lesson today.