“Educational” is a broad term. When it comes to mobile apps, there’s a diverse range of software that falls under the umbrella of education. You could peruse the top educational offerings in any app store, but locating the best ones — and those that aren’t merely a fad — is more difficult than you think.
Some educational apps are tailored for high-school students, some for soon-to-be college graduates, and others still, are more apt for those who provide an education or those who still pine for knowledge long after school lets out for summer. Whether you’re specifically looking for ways to exercise your mind, organize your coursework, or expand your knowledge on King Matthias Corvinus’ role in the Hungarian Renaissance, there’s more than one app specifically designed to get the job done. Then again, no app is truly tailored for exploring the global repercussions of the Renaissance.
The Great Courses (Free, with in-app purchases)
College is a great place to get an education, but if the thought of doing homework or racking up a hefty sum of student debt doesn’t appeal to you, The Great Courses offers lectures from expert professors, covering a wide variety of subjects including literature, history, business, math, music, even cooking. The Great Courses app lets you download or stream courses, and is compatible with Chromecast. The lectures are professionally made and presented clearly, with visual aids when necessary. While the app itself is free, you’ll have to pay for individual courses. There is a free trial, though, and courses go on sale from time to time. Plus, your smartphone probably weighs a lot less than a textbook.
Memrise (Free, premium version available)
Learning a language can be tough, particularly if there aren’t any courses offered near you. While you could buy yourself a textbook and teach yourself, Memrise offers a different path, teaching you vocabulary through gamification. Boot up Memrise, choose a language you want to study, and the app will drill you on various words and phrases, testing you on definitions, spelling, and aural recognition. Memrise is available for free, although the free version only offers so much; for the full deal, you’ll need to purchase a “Pro” subscription, and the app is aggressive about advertising it. Still, if you’re looking for an easy way to brush up on a language, Memrise is more fun (and convenient) than flashcards.
Udacity offers you free online courses. There are hundreds of different topics to choose from, and you can even pay for a nanodegree service that gets you feedback from professionals, coaching, and a verified certification for $200. A nanodegree can be a great choice for those looking to get a job in programming.
Amazon Kindle is one of the more traditional learning apps. The service has an untold number of reference guides, how-to books, self-help books, text books, and more. You simply buy them, download them, and read them. It’s delightfully old school, but some people enjoy that. Books are generally less expensive than their physical counterparts. Your device can also store tons of them without running out of space. Those who don’t like Amazon Kindle have other options. Google Play Books and Nook by Barnes & Noble are both excellent options as well. They both have a large assortment of guides, tutorial books, and other educational literature.
Coursera is an online school of sorts. It has a variety of lessons and classes that you can take. Each one educates you on a different topic. It boasts well over 1,000 courses ranging from math to science and even technology stuff. The classes have lectures, reading assignments, and video content. Finishing a course will even earn you a certificate of completion. Some of the courses are free. Others you’ll have to pay for. It’s a delightful mix of old school and modern learning. The only downside is that the app can be buggy at times. It’s one of the learning apps worth checking out.
Duolingo hit the ground running in 2014 and never looked back. It’s a language learning app with a lot going for it. It teaches you languages in bite sized chunks through little mini games. The lessons get harder the further you go, but it always manages to stay fun. It supports over a dozen languages. The developers also boast that 34 hours in this app is equal to a semester in school. It’s completely free to use. There are also no advertisements. It’s one of the great learning apps for both adults and kids. Once you’ve mastered Duolingo, you can then move on to other stuff like Memrise, Rosetta Stone, etc for even more advanced language learning.
EdX is one of the more unique education apps. Instead of offering courses from professionals, it offers courses from actual colleges. You won’t get a legitimate college degree out of them. However, there are courses in computer programming, engineering, history, psychology, nutrition, statistics, and hundreds of others. It features online or offline video lectures, course announcements and handouts, and various tutorials. All of it is completely free. Anyone looking for higher education should have this app right now.
Developer Description: A platform to create games to learn and review content, “Kahoots are best played in a group setting, for example, a classroom. Players answer the questions on their own devices, while games are displayed on a shared screen to unite the lesson. It creates a ‘campfire moment’ encouraging players to look up and celebrate together. Besides creating your own kahoots, you can search among millions of existing games.”
An amazingly easy-to-use digital bookmaking tool, this app is accessible even to kids in early elementary school grades to produce and publish their own simple books or comics with images, videos, and audio. Readers can access published books via iBooks or other online sources, or books can be printed on paper. Before creating that first book, it’s helpful to read the basic tutorial.
Nearpod offers teachers an easy-to-use tool for creating interactive lesson plans, presentations, assessments, and digital content. Nearpod allows teachers to create digital lesson plans, share it with students during class, and track individual progress. Lessons are comprised of teacher-created slides that can include text, video, images, websites, questions, quizzes, polls, and assignments. Students are able to follow the lesson on their own devices at their own pace or teachers can lead a synchronized session where students can follow the lesson in real-time.
ONLYOFFICE by Ascensio Systems is a complete school and business based cloud and on-site document management system. The application is available over a number of platforms and comes in a range of free and subscribed packages. This cloud service is compatible with MS Office formats and comes in at an affordable subscription price compared to others. The application if free from in app adverts and is available in a number of different languages.
Sometimes, education isn’t enough. Sometimes, you need a healthy dose of insight. For that, there are few places you can turn to that are as effective and enlightening as TED Talks. No other organization has built up such a large collection of interesting speakers from all over the world. There are 1,700+ videos to explore and most of them have been translated and made available in 22 different languages.