It seems smartphones and tablets are everywhere – including in the hands of online college students. Many students wonder how to utilize their smartphone to enhance their education. Whether you’re actually accessing course materials on your mobile device or just using it to keep track of notes, you can put your phone to good use in your online learning endeavor.

College and Learning Platform Apps

Increasingly, colleges are looking toward mobile learning – actually learning via mobile device – as an option. Schools like the University of Southern California and the University of Phoenix have their own apps for online learners. Blackboard, a common online learning platform, now makes its own mobile app. Your mobile device may not replace your computer just yet. However, with some programs, you can use a mobile device for taking online college classes, at least partially.

Apps to Do More Than Keep You Organized

Of course, any app to keep you organized can help make your online learning experience more productive. You can use a mobile calendar to keep track of deadlines, checklists to make sure you don’t miss assignments, and mobile email apps to check your email on the go. However, some apps can do more for your online education than just keep you organized.

Some apps help you take and store notes in any format, so you don’t have to keep track of paper copies or even have your computer with you – you can access the most important information you need to know for your class anywhere and anytime. Even better, some apps will let you search for text. Can’t remember which chapter included this scrap of information or during which week the lecture focused on that subject? You don’t have to. PC World recommends an app called Evernote, but students can take their pick from the hundreds of note-taking apps available.

You can also use your smartphone to store important information on the Internet using a service like Google Drive or Dropbox rather than on a potentially vulnerable computer drive. If your computer crashes, at least it won’t take that essay you’ve been working on for a week with it.

Of course, online college isn’t just about consuming information, but creating work, as well. Students who want to use their mobile devices extensively or even exclusively should consider apps that include word-processing, slideshow and spreadsheet software, like Microsoft’s Quickoffice Pro app.

Mobile learning is still more of an idea than a reality at many schools, but the inclusion of mobile devices in the virtual classroom is likely here to stay. More than 80 percent of students now report using a smartphone for some school-related task, according to Edudemic. Whether that means looking up sources for a paper, watching a video lecture, reading digital textbooks or emailing an assignment to a professor, it’s clear that many students now consider their smartphones to be a regular, if not essential, part of their academic routine.