The internet is full of websites designed to meet your every need, from political gossip to cat memes. However, when it’s time to get down to business it can be difficult to find reliable tools to help you get the job done. This series presents a collection of websites that offer distinct, well-developed resources to increase your productivity.

Part I: Research & Homework Tools

In elementary school, you carried a plastic box containing all of the essential supplies you’d need from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., every day. In college, however, you’ll need more than a sparkly pencil with a chewed-up eraser to make it through a macroeconomics class or a research paper. Below you’ll find a few examples of high quality, free resources that will help you study more efficiently.

Ice Cream Apps

Ice Cream Apps offers free programs that perform basic functions you may require intermittently, but not often enough to justify the purchase of a dedicated product. Programs offered include a PDF converter, audio/video media converter, ebook reader, PDF split and merge tool, screen recorder, image resizer and a slideshow maker.

Paste Bin

Paste Bin is exactly what it sounds like: an online text box where you can paste things to free up your clipboard. By signing up for a free account, you can also save or publish your pasted content. Most major platforms are supported—you can paste something into your Windows phone and open it on your Mac, for example.


Think of OverDrive as a worldwide public library for ebooks, audiobooks and videos. Boasting a collection of over two million titles shared by thousands of libraries in over 40 countries, OverDrive likely includes resources not offered at your college or hometown library. To use it, you will need a library card or log-in information from a participating library. To find the nearest participating branch, use the search function on the OverDrive website.


Need to measure something? Just use that pink plastic ruler that came with your Hello Kitty back-to-school set. Or, just use iRuler on your smartphone, tablet or laptop. The iRuler app displays an accurate ruler on the screen of your phone that you can use to measure things in centimeters or inches.


Coursera offers nearly a thousand free courses through partnerships with the world’s top universities and organizations. Courses can be taken at any time, on any schedule and (optionally) for a Verified Certificate.


HippoCampus provides resources and supplements for most subjects at middle school, high school and college levels. Through partnerships with Khan Academy, NASA and a number of colleges and public school districts, HippoCampus is able to offer video and text materials that can stand alone or act as enhanced study aids for difficult classes.

Up Next…

Keep an eye out for the next posts in this series: Part II (Information Retention), Part III (Group Study) and Part IV (Work Organization & Study Environment).