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Life is hectic these days, so making regular learning a part of your everyday life can be a bit tricky sometimes. One of the best ways to learn something new everyday, however, is to use educational apps for adults.
With educational apps, you can learn something new while sitting in the waiting room at your doctor's appointment or even while waiting in line at Starbucks. Apps provide quick and easy ways to increase your knowledge and yours skills.
Here are 21 of the best educational apps for adults,
with explanations, screenshots, and my personal review for each one.
Available on: Android
The Endless Quiz isn't a learning app per se,
but it is a quick and fun way to increase your general knowledge. I think it's quite addicting! The app gives you rapid-fire general knowledge questions (there are no pop culture questions), and each question has 4 answer choices that you can choose from.
As soon as you answer a question, it lets you know if you were right or wrong. Correct answers turn green and incorrect answers turn red. There is a LEARN button at the top of the screen which takes you to a wikipedia page where you can learn more about the information presented in the question. If you don't want to investigate the topic, however, it immediately goes on to the next question.
The free version has ads,
but they are very non-instrusive. I hardly even notice them. However, if you want an ad-free version, you can buy the Pro version for a measly $1.49.
You also have the ability to view a graph and see how well you've done. Just click the number in the top right corner of the screen. Also,
you can choose "match" and see how well you do against other players.
The app has a 4.4 rating (out of 5) on the Google app store, and you can check it out here.
Available on: Android and iOS
This app has been downloaded over a million times and has a 4.6-star rating on the Google app store because, well, because it's awesome. It's hard to find something so useful that is completely free, but Khan Academy is one such app.
Khan academy teaches subjects such as math, science, economics, history, computers, and more using videos, interactive exercises, and text-based articles.
Available on: Android and iOS
I debated on whether to include this app in the list because of the cost of some of the courses, but I decided to include it anyway because it offers a lot of interesting subjects taught by actual college professors.
Some course prices are over $100, but they do offer a scholarship that you can apply for if you can't afford to pay the course fee. The application is easy and is listed on every enrollment page. Some courses are free,
unless you want a certificate of completion,
in which case you'll have to pay. Some courses have some materials free, but if you want to unlock all learning materials, you'll have to pay.
The subjects they offer are numerous, and they don't just cover the basic subjects you learn in school. For example, one course is called "Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content".
If you want a certificate for completing that course,
there is a $95 fee, but if you don't opt for the certificate, you get all of the course materials for free.
When you enroll for a course, the graphical interface is nicely laid out and easy to use. The course is broken down into modules that are nicely outlined, and every time there's a video to watch, it tells you on your dashboard what it's about and how long it will take to watch it. So the point is,
it's laid out well for easy navigation and planning on your part.
The app allows you to download the videos for viewing at any time, but many times, you still have to log on to your computer to complete the homework assignments and quizzes.
When you're trying to communicate your ideas to someone else, how well they understand you is often based on how precise your are with your language. The more words you know, the better able you are to get your point across and be understood. So I incorporate vocabulary training into my daily routine, and dictionary.com's Word of the Day feature is a quick and easy way to do that.
The dictionary part works offline so you can look up a definition or synonym whenever you encounter an unfamiliar word - no matter where you are. You can save favorite words to review them later so you don't forget the meaning. And it offers audio pronunciation (but you have to be online for that to work), as well as providing interesting tidbits about the etymology of the words.
TED Talks, if you haven't watched any, are videos of talks given by experts and laypeople alike. There are over 2000 lectures covering a wide variety of topics.
The TED app lets you watch these lectures at any time from your tablet or phone,
and you can download them to watch when you're not online.
You can hop on over to their website to get a feel for some of the variety of topics available, or you can just download the app and start searching for something that interests you. You can find the Android app here, and the iOS app here.
The app is rated 4.6 stars on Google Play, and it has been downloaded more than 10 million times.
If you want to learn a foreign language, let's face it - there are a zillion and one apps on the market that say they can teach you a language easily.
I love learning languages,
and I've tried a LOT of apps. The problems I've come across with many of them are:
- Very little is offered for free. They give you a lesson or two then want you to pay a bunch for additional lessons or material. I'm not a fan of paying for every little thing, especially when there are free options available.
- A lot of them offer nothing but common phrases. It's nice to be able to say a few things in another language, but to really speak a language, you have to dig in and learn grammar, too.
- A lot of them are nothing more than vocabulary flashcard apps. I can make vocabulary flashcards on my own or use one of the many free programs to make my own digital flashcards.
- The truth is, if you're motivated, you can learn any language for free. I'm talking about the vocabulary,
the grammar, the pronunciation, the sentence structures, verb conjugations, etc. I can get a textbook from my library,
or I can watch YouTube videos or I can get free pdf's online, etc.
However, a really crucial part of learning another language is being able to listen (and understand) the language when someone is speaking it, and being able to talk in that language. And for this, you really do need a native speaker (or someone who has learned it well).
When I was learning Japanese, I studied for several years, in college and on my own. I thought I was really good at it. Then I moved to Japan and was shocked when I realized that I couldn't understand anything anybody was saying!
Their speech was so fast,
and I couldn't distinguish the individual words. It took me over a month to get used to hearing it from native speakers and get to a point where I could understand them and converse with them myself. That's why it's really important to use what you learn, and speak to someone who actually speaks that language.
I use italki for this, and I think it's an awesome way to learn without spending a fortune.
You have 3 options for practicing your language skills on italki.
- You can get lessons from a professional (certified) teacher. This is often the most expensive option, but you do tend to get a pretty good education this way (of course it varies based on the individual teacher, so try out a few before you settle on one).
- You can practice talking and get lessons from an un-licensed tutor. You also have the option of choosing one that lives in your target language's country.
- You can also practice learning your target language by teaching the other person your native language in a language exchange. On italki, that is free. So,
if you want to learn Chinese, you'd hook up with a Chinese-speaking person who wants to learn English, and you just trade lessons. You teach them and they teach you.
You usually do your italki lessons through Skype (or some other messenger). When you choose a teacher (or tutor), you choose a date and time for your lesson, and italki makes it easy to convert your time to your teacher's time. That's nice; you don't have to sit there and figure out "What time is it in China, and when is that for me?"
Even when you do pay for lessons on italki, it's usually far less than it costs to take a class in college or at a language school. And when you're in a class, there's just all this information being thrown AT you. But on italki, when you're working with a tutor or teacher or language partner, it's very personalized, and you get to practice more than you do in
a typical classroom setting. And you get to choose the things you want to learn and work on.
Source: Google Play Store
Sololearn allows you to learn to code for free. One of the great things about this app is that it is completely free. There are no ads and no in-app purchases.
You get 1 try on the questions, and if you ask for a hint, they'll deduct 100 points off your score which shows up on the certificate you receive at the end of the course.
I've used Code Academy, Khan Academy, and SoloLearn for coding instruction, and I like Sololearn better. The information they teach you is solid and useful, and the way you learn with SoloLearn is easy and straightforward. (I'm not giving Code Academy or Khan Academy bad reviews. I learned a lot from them, too!)
Of course, as with any method of learning programming, practice is key.
You'll learn a lot from SoloLearn, but you have to actually sit at the computer and code to get very good at it. Write code, publish it on GitHub, and when you're stuck, get help from people who can help for free over at Stack Overflow or other online coding communities. Practice, practice, then practice some more.
Wolfram Alpha is very useful when you want to look something up, rather than just using an app to go learn something new (although you can do that, too).
Wolfram Alpha is not a search engine that points you to data. Instead, it's a "computational knowledge engine" that uses its vast database and algorithms to compute the answer for you when you submit a query. It's perfect for people who love data and statistics, or for writers who need hard statistics for their articles.
It covers a lot of different topics, but remember, it's computational-based, so you won't get answers to "why" questions.
It's more for who, what,
where and when-type questions. It covers various math disciplines, statistics,
physics, chemistry, engineering, and a lot more.
You can see a more comprehensive list on the description page here.
This app is for the computer, not for phones, so I debated on whether I should include it in this list, but it is quite useful when you want to learn another language, so I decided to tell you about it anyway.
When you're learning a language, listening and speaking the new language is crucial (see the description for italki above). This app makes learning by listening to native speakers fun because you get to learn from movies and TV shows.
Learning a language by watching shows and movies in that language does work. When I met my friend from Sweden, she spoke perfect English with a normal, American accent. I couldn't even tell that English was her second language. I asked her, "How did you learn English so well?" She said, "I learned it from MTV. We had one English channel when I was growing up - MTV. I watched it everyday and learned English from that".
Another downside to this app is the cost of it. You can use the free version, but you can only upload 1 show at a time and, even then, you only get to watch about 3 minutes of it. To get all the features, you have to buy the full version which will set you back $99. But, it is useful, and it is just a one-time fee, so when you compare that against the cost of a language institute course or a college language course,
it is much cheaper. And a lot more fun!
This app helps you practice listening (and understanding), writing, and speaking your target language. It uses Spaced Repetition (see the free download, "Learn 11 Tricks to Make Learning Easy and Effortless here) which helps you retain the information you learn.
Because it's not in the App Store, I can't give you a star rating number, but you can watch a video about it's features on their website here and see if it's something you'd be interested in.
First Aid – American Red Cross
This app is great for learning first aid techniques when accidents happen or things go wrong. It offers videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice and instructions. Every parent should put this on their phone (unless you already have medical training - then I'm sure you don't need it!).
The app is integrated with 911, so if an emergency arise, you can use it to get professional help quickly. It doesn't just teach you first aid, either. It offers a lot of "get prepared" tips for things like earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
This app is free, and it doesn't require an internet connection, so if you're out hiking in the middle of the Grand Canyon and something happens, it's still useful.
I started off subscribing to the daily emails from curiosity.com and found the daily tidbits of information interesting. Now they have a mobile app that delivers their daily does of knowledge straight to your phone or tablet.
The content is presented through text articles, embedded videos, and some infographics.
The things you learn on curiosity do not enhance your life skills or provide you with useful knowledge that you'd use in your everyday life (not always, but usually), but the facts and stories they present are quite interesting. You get to learn about different people,
places, and strange stuff that you probably never heard of, so it is worth taking a few minutes every day to read their articles.
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Here are the first 11 apps we'll talk about in this article:
- Endless Quiz
- Khan Academy
- Dictionary.com Word of the Day
- TED Talks
- Wolfram Alpha
- First Aid - American Red Cross
Discover 10 More of the Best Educational Apps for Adults
These 10 apps are great for learning new things, even when you only have a couple minutes to spare.