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tools for schools Archive
Jake reviewed Gradefix a week ago and thought it would be great to speak with the creators. So I gave Mark Polson, one of the founders of Gradefix a call. Gradefix helps you organize your schoolwork, certainly something I could have used during my Masters studies.
Highlights of our discussion include:
- Can you provide a brief bio about yourself?
- What is Gradefix? How did you come up with the idea?
- Who is the target user of Gradefix?
- How are you marketing Gradefix?
- How many users are paid and are there other plans to monetize the app?
- Any success stories so far?
- What technology are you using?
- Where do you see Gradefix going in the next year?
- So you are live since August 30th, what’s it been like?
- What is the one thing you wish you did when you were developing the app?
- What has been your biggest mistake you have made so far?
- What do you think a startup web app needs to be successful?
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Click the start button below to begin the audio interview (24 minutes) (or download the mp3):
I recently took a look at GradeFix, and found it to be really nice. At first I was kind of skeptical on how much it would help, but it did help a lot! So basically what it is, is a schedule keeper for all of your school work. Whether it be homework, reading, studying for a quiz, or studying for an exam, GradeFix will organize everything for you.
You can register for a free account here. Though there are some limitations on free accounts, you can have up to 10 active items on your schedule, as opposed to the paid plan, where you can pay $5 a month for unlimited. Though you may be saying $5 is a bit too much, in my opinion, it's worth it. But you can work with the free plan fairly well.
So here's how it works. Once you sign up, you go to gradefix.com. Then towards the top there's a "My Account" link, and it will bring you to the dashboard. On the dashboard, you will have a box which is full of dates, items, and the time you should spend on that item. To the right of that, there is the box where you can enter new items.
The item display is really straight forward. It a has alternating colors, so it's easy to read, and makes things a lot faster when you're trying to get things done fast. Another thing to the right is the filter control. You can set the filter to filter out a certain amount of days, type of work, and even specific classes. The second you select something on the filter, it will change the results in the display box.
This, I'm assuming, is Ajax, without all the cool effects. Also on that note, the design is kind of bland, but it's simple and easy to use.
So if you're looking for a better way to get organized for class, this is the tool for you. It will take all the stress, of keeping track of assignments, right away. It works for me, so I'm sure it could work for just about anyone out there, that goes to school.
I've run into a few situations, where a teacher wants the student to make a mind map, or maybe the student wants to use one to keep better track of notes. Mind maps are nice, but if you do them by hand, they can get a bit messy. I know mine do anyway. So that's what Gliffy is for.
Gliffy is a web app, that helps you create and lay out a mind map, quickly, and easily. It can be really nice to have and instead of spending all that time working on paper, you could probably cut the time in half, and make it cleaner with Gliffy.
So there are a few things that you need to know to get started. First of all, the UI is kind of rough, but the basic structure of the app is based on drop downs. For example, in the left and right sidebars, you can click something, for example UML, and the UML items will drop down. Then all you need to do to put them into your document is click and drag.
Really, that is the hardest part. Everything else seems to be pretty easy. You just find whatever you need, and drag it into the document. There are a variety of shapes, classic flow chart symbols, lines, and all that good stuff.
The next useful thing is sharing. Gliffy allows you to share your mind maps, as a hosted jpg, on their server. This is really a nice feature. If you need to collaborate with friends, or something like that, you just send them a link and you're set.
Then the other thing I really like is the ability to print. When you print from it's print button, the mind map will scale to an 8.5×11" piece of paper. I printed out the one you see here, and on paper it looks good.
Even though this is a tool for school, it is much more expandable. You can use it for work, brainstorming business ideas, designing websites, and just about every other thing that needs basic planning. The fact that Gliffy can be applied to all of these areas, to me, is amazing. Out of the tools for schools I've seen so far, this is one of my favorites, because it goes beyond school, and allows me to do things for work.
Though I must say, I came into this web app disappointed. I was immediately repelled because of the way it looked. I'm kind of picky with that stuff, and no offense to Gliffy, but it's ugly! Despite that, I went on, and I was really really surprised. There is a whole lot of functionality, that is very useful.
So even though it's ugly, it's the thing to use for school, whether it be note-taking, or even using it out of school, with stuff business related. I highly recommend everyone reading this, check out the site. Don't let the UI scare you off!
Some of you may have heard of EasyBib before and you know it rocks. EasyBib is a really useful tool for putting together that dreaded bibliography. It takes the sources that you feed it, and will turn things out, in either APA or MLA format. If you’re in college, this may be especially useful for those English classes.
Last year, in my writing class I had to do everything in MLA, it was pretty straight forward. I would go through everything, and get to the bibliography. This is really the worst part of writing something like a research paper. It just takes too long.
So taking the hassle out of those big research papers, is really really nice. Though there is really one thing that bothers me about EasyBib. Using it is a pretty easy task, but the way it looks could definitely be improved.
Besides the site looking a little plain, which really isn’t a bad thing, I have no complaints. It’s really straight forward, you put your sources into a form, and click Format Citation. When you do that, you will be given the option to export as an RTF file, print the bibliography, or view the formatted bibliography directly, as a text file in the browser.
All in all, EasyBib is very useful, you can format any MLA bibliography, whenever you want for free. If you want to format it to APA, you need to sign up for the pro account. In my opinion, it is really worth the cost. They want $8 for a whole year, and you get a one week free trial.
So if you’re looking to cut down on the amount of time you spend on your research papers, or really any paper’s bibliography, check out EasyBib. It’s never gotten me a bad grade :D.