Open source School tools for our adult learners!


Image by: CC-by-SA 4.0

This is an entertaining listicle of what I’ll be covering over the next couple articles but I’m going to ramble at you a bit first. So hey y’all! It’s been a minute, I turned off my twitter due to integration issues but also because I started working on my masters degree. That being said I vanished off the face of the earth everywhere. But I came back in this tiny window of time I have free to hook you up with some pretty cool knowledge. 

Why am I dropping this together? Well I missed you dear readers, and every so often at work I find a coworker has read my previous articles and has asked me “Why did you stop?” Well, again see above. Masters degrees are time consuming especially when you have to work a full time job. So while I’m here let’s get down to this nifty list of tools I’ve found along the way during my educational journey.


Do you need to do research papers? Do you have to cite sources? Possibly need help with some organization? What does Zotero do?

Picture this: You’re on a wild research adventure, diving into the depths of the internet, conquering library catalogs like a fearless explorer, and scaling the towering peaks of academic databases. But wait! How do you keep track of all the treasures you’ve unearthed?

Enter Zotero, your trusty sidekick on this scholarly safari. With its magical powers, Zotero lets you snatch up citation information from every corner of the web and store it neatly in your own personal treasure trove—a centralized database that’s as organized as a librarian’s dream.

But Zotero isn’t just about hoarding your loot; it’s about wielding it with precision. You can wrangle your sources into collections and subcollections, tag them like a pro treasure hunter marking his map, and even scribble notes on them like cryptic clues.

And when it’s time to present your findings to the world, Zotero has your back. It joins forces with mighty word processors like Microsoft Word and Google Docs, allowing you to sprinkle citations into your documents with the finesse of a master chef adding seasoning to a gourmet dish. Whether you need APA, MLA, or Chicago style, Zotero’s got you covered.

But wait, there’s more! Zotero isn’t just a solo act—it’s a team player. With its collaborative features, you can recruit fellow adventurers to join your quest, sharing sources and annotations like a band of scholarly superheroes. And thanks to its cloud storage and syncing powers, your treasure trove is always within reach, no matter where your quest takes you.

So grab your hat, sharpen your pencils, and embark on your research adventure with Zotero by your side. 

Doesn’t that sound fun though? School doesn’t always have to be serious (Literally I’m gonna make this funny, that’s what makes life cool).


I’m going to be real, I am terrible at math. SageMath is an open-source mathematics software system that packs a punch with its vast array of tools and capabilities. They provide a pretty good GUI with pictures that I usually need to understand what’s going on with graphs. The interactive capabilities also helped. The best part in my personal opinion though, was the documentation there’s so much to get you through using this tool.  Enough about my seriousness around Sage math even though it helped me out a bunch. Please enjoy my journey of mystery and magic on how I survived with this tool. 

Gather ’round, brave souls, for a tale of mathematical magic and mystical mayhem! In the realm of numbers and equations, where wizards duel with formulas and incantations, there exists a place of legend—a place known as SageMath, the battleground of mathematical wizards!

Two sorcerers, robes billowing and wands (or rather, keyboards) at the ready, facing off in an epic duel of intellect and imagination. On one side stands the seasoned sage, wielding SageMath with the mastery of a thousand equations at their fingertips. On the other, a daring challenger, eager to prove their mettle in the mystical arts of mathematics.

The duel begins, and the air crackles with arcane energy as spells are cast and numbers fly like lightning bolts. The seasoned sage conjures up a complex algorithm, weaving it into a web of calculations that dance across the digital ether. But the challenger is undaunted, countering with a swift maneuver that sends vectors swirling and matrices tumbling in their wake.

As the battle rages on, the battlefield transforms into a canvas of swirling colors and shapes, each spell a masterpiece of mathematical artistry. Graphs and plots erupt from the ground like enchanted forests, while equations shimmer in the air like celestial constellations.

But in the end, there can be only one victor. With a final flourish of their wand (or rather, mouse), the seasoned sage emerges triumphant, their mastery of SageMath shining like a beacon in the darkness. And yet, the challenger departs with newfound knowledge and respect, their spirit undaunted and their thirst for mathematical adventure still burning bright.

So heed this tale, brave souls, and remember the legend of SageMath—the battleground where wizards clash, equations collide, and the magic of mathematics knows no bounds!

I do love telling a good story, even if it’s about the thing I’m the absolute worst at.


Have you ever needed a book for school but can’t really afford it? That’s exactly what OpenStax is about. Started by Rice University in 2012, Openstax provides a great amount of books that are open source license to the public via their site. They also provide a bunch of peer reviewed papers as well. This came in handy when we had a bit of a crunch on our budget (school ain’t free and layoffs happen from time to time), I needed some extra books to keep up with a course and it was 100% free on their site. They also offer very low priced prints if needed. Which is just fantastic. I’ve been super grateful for this service in a time of need. Now that we got my serious talk out of the way, you want a cool story right?

In the shadows of the digital realm, there exists a mysterious kingdom, shrouded in secrecy yet teeming with untold riches of knowledge. They call it OpenStax—a name whispered in hushed tones among those who seek the truth.

Legend has it that within the depths of OpenStax lies a trove of textbooks, each one a key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe. Crafted by the hands of scholarly sages and veiled in the cloak of peer-reviewed wisdom, these tomes hold the secrets of algebra, biology, history, and more.

But here’s the twist: these treasures aren’t guarded by fearsome dragons or hidden behind impenetrable fortress walls. No, the true mystery of OpenStax lies in its accessibility. For while the world outside may hoard knowledge behind locked gates and towering paywalls, OpenStax offers its bounty freely to all who dare to seek it.

Who are the enigmatic figures behind this noble endeavor? What secrets lie within the pages of these arcane texts? And what dark forces seek to keep this knowledge hidden from the eyes of those who hunger for enlightenment?

Only the most intrepid of seekers can hope to unravel the mysteries of OpenStax. So gather your courage, dear adventurer, and prepare to embark on a journey into the heart of the unknown. For within the shadowy depths of OpenStax, the truth awaits, shrouded in mystery and waiting to be revealed.

Alright, last but not least… Do you need flash cards for tests? I do, so let’s talk about Anki.


As with all schooling you come to the test taking for classes. I have some supreme test anxiety so I go pretty hard on flash cards and reading. That’s how I ran into Anki. I needed some pictures I had saved for one set of technical tests to be usable on my phone. Anki does so many things, but I think the ability to run out to appointments or go shopping and the ability to have things synced to my phone while I’m grabbing food from isles with my husband is super useful. Also, right before bed because… test anxiety. There’s a lot of customization and flexibility with this app, both on your computer and on your phone. Which again I’ll cover in an article. I know what you want now that you know what it is. Let’s get to story time.

In the enchanted realms of the digital kingdom, where pixels shimmer like magical dust and algorithms hum with the power of ancient spells, there lies a mystical software known as Anki—a fantastical journey that weaves together the threads of memory and imagination.

Picture a world where memories are not mere recollections, but enchanted artifacts imbued with the essence of the past. That’s the realm of Anki, where users embark on an epic quest through the enchanted forests of cyberspace, seeking to unlock the secrets of their own minds and unravel the mysteries of the forgotten realms.

Guiding them on their journey are a cast of characters as diverse as the creatures of myth and legend: from brave heroes wielding keyboards as swords, to wise sages with the knowledge to unlock the secrets of the ancient texts.

But beware, for lurking in the shadows of the digital forest are creatures of darkness and ancient evils waiting to ensnare the unwary traveler. As users delve deeper into the labyrinthine pathways of Anki, they uncover long-lost secrets and hidden truths that challenge the very fabric of reality itself.

With each memory unlocked comes a new revelation, and with each revelation, a new chapter in the epic saga of Anki unfolds. Will you unlock the secrets of the forgotten realms, or will you be consumed by the darkness that lurks within?

My final thoughts and revelations

Since I’ve endeavored on my educational journey I’ve run into a bunch of hiccups, quick timelines at work and some budgeting issues (time and otherwise). But luckily in my search while working I’ve found some great tools along the way. You may ask why is your writing weird? Because for every one educational or technical  thing I read, I have to read something entertaining. So honestly that’s where a bunch of this comes from. But these tools have been fantastic to me, and I hope if you’re on the same journey to further your education they will be of great help to you.

Carry on my friends and keep your chins up, you can do this with the right tools in hand. Also be ready for my deep dives because it’s going to be fun. Also I might get a bit weird, but hey that’s who I am.