Parkway e-News Story

Free Teaching and Learning Apps

By Bill Bass, Innovation Coordinator

I think it’s safe to say that we are currently in the midst of a mobile revolution. Phones and tablets are everywhere you go and they are certainly part of everyday life for adults and students alike. With all the mobile apps out there, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.

More importantly, how can we take the power of these devices and put them to use in an educational setting. Luckily, there are an amazing amount of educational apps available and, while this list is no where near exhaustive, it’s a good starting point for moving past only games.

Productivity Apps
These apps can help both students and adults create and organize documents and notes for easy access.

  • Google Drive - Google Drive is an online productivity suite that allows you to create, view and edit documents online. The Drive app gives you much of the same functionality from your mobile device. As long as you have an internet connection, your documents are only clicks away. (Free, iOS, Android)

  • Evernote - Evernote is a great online note taking app that lets you have access to your notes anywhere you go and makes it easy to find and organize using the search and tagging features. It isn’t dependent upon an internet connection to take notes but it will sync across devices and the website so that you can always access that information. Another nice feature is the ability to embed photos and audio recordings into notes. (Free, iOS, Android, Windows 8)

Learning Apps
As we become more mobile, there is great opportunity for individualized learning anytime and anywhere. These apps provide interesting content in an engaging way and give students multiple avenues to enhance their learning whenever they have a free moment.

  • Khan Academy - Khan Academy has tons of videos ranging from third grade math all the way to Macroeconomics and Organic Chemistry. Meant for both kids and adults to learn through videos and practice, this app will keep track of what you learn and helps to provide direction about what you should learn next. (Free, iOS, Windows 8)

  • TED - TED is a nonprofit website that features speakers from all over the world with big ideas that are shared at one of numerous TED conferences. Videos vary in length and are categorized by their content but each talk features big ideas and thought-provoking topics. While it’s not typical K12 curricular content, there’s plenty there to engage your thinking. (Free, iOS, Android, Windows 8)

Reading Apps
Probably one of the most common ways that mobile devices are used is for reading. These apps will either provide you with content or give you the ability to interact with others about the books you read.

  • Kindle - The Amazon Kindle app allows you to read any ebook that has been purchased through Amazon on any device with the app. A great feature of this app is that it will sync across all of your devices (including your computer) and keep any notes or annotations from your reading. (Free, iOS, Android, Windows 8)

  • Nook - This app is very similar to the Kindle app except that it supports books from the Barnes and Noble ebook store. (Free, iOS, Android, Windows 8)

  • Enlight - Enlight is another reading app that gives students access to most of the ebooks that are purchased by the libraries in the district. The amount of books available vary by school and each student needs to have a login, but this app allows you to have access to the ebooks that Parkway has already purchased for students. (Free, iOS, Android)

  • Goodreads - Goodreads is a social network website that is aimed directly at readers. Once you have an account, you can connect with other readers to recommend, review and discuss books through their site. The Goodreads app gives you mobile access to these tools and lets you discuss the books you love. (Free, iOS, Android)

Internet Safety
As more and more devices make their way into the hands of kids, one of the most important things that we can teach them is internet safety.

  • Digital Passport for Kids - Created by Common Sense Media, this app is made for kids in 3rd through 5th grades and meant to teach the essentials for staying safe and responsible online and on mobile devices through videos, games, and creative activities. While this app isn’t free, it includes so many important lessons (including privacy, cyberbullying, and safe online communications) that kids will need as they spend more time using their mobile devices. ($2.99, iOS, Android)

Parkway Schools App
Did you know that Parkway has its own app that is very beneficial for parents and students trying to stay up to date with their schools? In this app you’ll find everything you need to keep up, including district and school calendars and sports; Infinite Campus access; mySchoolBucks and the daily lunch menu, as well as contact information for the schools. (Free, iOS, Android)

Obviously this is just a small selection of the apps that are available. We live in an exciting time where learning and education is not confined to the four walls of a classroom or a building. These mobile apps can help us to expand the possibilities and provide some amazing learning opportunities. If you are looking for more apps geared toward kids, take a look at the Common Sense Media App Reviews page where you can define an age range or content area and explore some of the apps that are available.

Bill Bass, Innovation Coordinator - Technology Integration, Information and Library Services