Now that many students at Winona State are experiencing “Zoom University,” or a college experience that is largely online, it may seem like class work is more manageable. 

Without having to worry about commuting or finding their classrooms, students now have a lot more time for studies. But that doesn’t mean it’s any easier.

Like many students, I struggle with staying on task. 

All my classes are online this semester, which means it’s crucial for me to separate my study time from free time. It’s a lot harder to do than I’d imagined! 

Luckily, I’ve found some online tools to help me stay focused and make Zoom University easier, too. Here are my favorites:

1. Dark Reader

Okay, this isn’t going to help you write your papers. But Dark Reader might help make looking at a screen all day every day easier. 

This tool basically puts every webpage into a dark or night mode. It’s super helpful for reading huge blocks of text on Google Docs, Outlook Docs, or even emails. 

Dark Reader has definitely saved me a few blue-light headaches.

2. Grammarly

If you do a lot of writing–heck, even if you don’t do very much–this app is great for catching any grammatical and tone issues that Microsoft Word might miss. 

Besides watching for grammar, Grammarly also suggests ways to keep your tone formal for papers and friendly for emails, or whatever else you may need. 

As an English major, this is a lifesaver.

3. Kosmi

Okay, I’ll admit it: I use this app for watching videos with friends. 

However, if you’re in a group or even a class that needs to watch a video at the same time, Kosmi is perfect. 

The admin of the group can start or pause a video at any time, and it reflects on all viewers’ screens. There’s a chat box on the right for you to ask questions or make comments (or tell jokes), as well as an option for sharing video and audio. 

The best part? All you need is the URL or the video file, if you’ve got it downloaded. It’s that simple.

4. Momentum

Does the generic page for your web browser fail to inspire you? Fear not! 

Momentum is here to make every venture to the web feel a lot more professional. Every day you’ll see a different gorgeous image from around the world. 

It also lets you keep an eye on the weather and put down your most important goal of the day–after all, the best part about making a list is crossing things off.

5. Read Aloud: A Text to Speech Voice Reader

Whether you need a break from hearing your own voice in your head or you need help reading a difficult font or size, Read Aloud is great for reading aloud texts. 

I’ve found that it makes dense texts easier to understand because the pace is much slower than my own reading pace, and I don’t need to reread texts (and get annoyed, and get frustrated, and get distracted…) as often.

This isn’t even a drop in the bucket, of course. There are bound to be other online extensions and sites that can make your “Zoom University” experience easier and more successful. 

Look out for what your friends and colleagues are using, and share what you know. You’ve got this, Warriors!

-Everett Hall ’20

The following two tabs change content below.

Everett Hall

Everett Hall is a triple major in English: Applied and Professional Writing, English: Literature and Language, and Spanish. They are set to graduate in Spring 2021. They grew up in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. In their free time, they like to write, play with their dogs, knit, and learn how to cook from their fiancée.

Latest posts by Everett Hall (see all)