Hand Held Education — The Best Apps for Students (Part One)

Before too long, using a computer to take classes and get a degree will seem as out dated as going into a classroom. More and more applications (or apps) are being developed for phones (both iPhone and Android) and tablets, allowing students more and more freedom in where, when, and how they study and learn. These are just a handful of apps, a drop in the bucket compared to whats available, but these are the ones that stand out as being exceptional.

A virtual frog is much cleaner to dissect than a real one, photo by Tobyotter

Blackboard Mobile Learn – This is an amazing advance for anyone attending an on-line school that uses the Blackboard system. Which, to my knowledge, is most of them. Using Blackboard (for those who don’t already know) sets up a Facebook-style class discussion forum for the students of a particular course. All students are required to post ideas, and respond to each others posts and specific number of times per week. This app allows the user to access Blackboard, as well as downloading any assignments or course material. Best of all, the app is free. So you can take your class discussion with you where ever you go, and it doesn’t cost you any extra.

PI83 Graphing Calculator – The Texas Instruments TI-83 calculator is one of the best on the market, and a necessity for anyone taking college math courses. This app provides everything the calculator does (over 100 functions, plus the ability to graph the data), and allows you to do it fromyour phone or tablet. The Texas Instruments calculator costs upwards of $70, but the app is only $1. I’m no good at math, but I don’t need a calculator or the app to figure out how much money that saves.

24/7 Tutor Inc – This company has started producing a series of free foreign-language apps to help English speakers learn Spanish, French, German, or Italian. In addition to a phrase book and a system of flash cards for learning the language, these programs also provide in-depth interactive exercises, a native-speaker audio function, and write-in quizzes and tests to figure out if you’re actually learning anything. Not the biggest or the deepest foreign language app out there, but hard to beat for the price tag (which, to remind you, was free).

Frog Dissection – Maybe this app won’t be used by the vast majority of people, but speaking as someone who had to order a dead frog through the mail so I could dissect it on my dining room table, this app does have its uses. For a cost of $3.99 the app provides high resolution and 3D images, combined with an instructor-style voice over and step by step instructions. And who knows, it may end up being fun!

Evernote – This is an iPad app that simplifies the note-taking process. Jot your class notes (or anything else you want to write) directly onto the tablet, and Evernote immediately backs them up onto a remote location,so that you can access and download them from any computer. It also syncs up with your email, so you can import or export your notes from email messages.

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