Teaching in the Twenty-First Century is vastly different than it was in the past for many reasons. From the ever-changing social and political climate to preparing students for careers that we can’t even fathom, teachers and educational service providers must respond to and anticipate realities we have yet to understand fully.
One of the most significant shifts in education over the past few decades is the application of technology in the classroom. Classroom management goes hand-in-hand with technology in the modern classroom, and the best technologies are reshaping the landscape for teachers and students alike. With self-paced, differentiated material students and teachers are more patient and less stressed about meeting individual needs.
Teaching apps have allowed teachers to explore new ways to engage their students and address the diverse needs of learners while tracking individual growth in real-time and easily connecting with families and guardians. The data and efficiency these technological advances have provided educators are changing how we teach and track effectiveness in the classroom. It also allows each student to feel they are heard individually because the material feels relevant and personalized.
Digital learning tools have also elevated how service professionals educate clients and build trust. Technology has changed how we share and learn from the classroom to the office. But what makes the best educational app?
This article looks at the criteria that set the best apps apart and the ten best apps for teachers, coaches, and parents available today. We also dive into some FAQs around teaching apps and how parents can look out for their student(s).
What are the Criteria for the Best Apps for Teachers?
Not all apps are created equal. You need to know which apps perform best and how to leverage them to achieve better learning. While many factors make a great app, three specific qualities put the best above the rest.
They had to make high marks in the following categories to get on our list of the ten best educational apps.
App functionality is the most essential aspect of a quality teaching app. When learners understand how to navigate a learning tool confidently, they will have better engagement and make better progress. Instructors will also gain more from the data when they know how to navigate the platform too.
For an app to have optimal functionality in a classroom/learning setting,, it should have the following:
- A user-friendly interface — There shouldn’t be any second guesses on which button to push or where to navigate next. A quality classroom app should be easy for teachers and students to navigate simultaneously or in their own time. The flow feels natural and guides the user through the experience from start to finish. Students feel comfortable enough to navigate the app from home with their families.
- Battery protection — The last thing anyone needs is a dead laptop or smartphone battery during a lesson or tutorial. Apps with battery preservation will reduce a significant amount of stress and dysfunction.
- Speech recognition and scalable/audio text — Accessibility for individuals with different needs is non-negotiable with a quality teaching app. For students who have difficulty typing, voice recognition software allows them to write hands-free. Scalable text and audio text will help students read the material. Literacy apps with different reading levels available provide built-in differentiation that is easy to implement.
- Augmented reality integration — AR will provide students with a more immersive experience and increase engagement. As a newer element to learning apps, it is quickly becoming the most in-demand feature because it ups the fun factor and breaks away from traditional classroom aesthetics.
The most successful teaching apps are the ones that students are excited to use! That should be no surprise, but our list includes highly engaging apps that boost student engagement and are enjoyable to interact with. This goes hand in hand with functionality; one cannot exist without the other. Quality learning apps also provide feedback options that are quick and easy to improve the user’s experience.
Student Growth Assessment
From quizzes to informal assessments and games, teaching apps must provide pertinent data that lets an instructor know stats on individual student progress and growth in real time. Classroom apps that make the process fun and include students in tracking their progress get extra brownie points.
The Top 10 Apps for Teachers
Depending on the category and age of the individuals you teach, each app’s relevancy will vary. Some apps best suit younger learners, while others target high school students and adult learners. However, they all meet the criteria listed above.
1. Khan Academy
Khan Academy consistently ranks as one of the most used classroom apps. With its personalized learning dashboard, students can learn at their own pace from anywhere. This free app is accessible and allows teachers, parents, and coaches to assess students' learning and identify areas where they need additional instruction and help.
Some of the subjects covered by Khan Academy include:
- Core subjects (math, science, reading, and language arts)
- Test Prep
- Life skills
The app is easy to use and self-paced, making it an ideal classroom app for diverse learners.
This collaborative teacher/parent/student app centers on social-emotional learning. ClassDojo uses AR to create a safe learning space for children and is highly engaging for young learners.
Parents can see photos and videos of their children in their classroom environment and give them virtual badges for their hard work at home and school. Parents can communicate directly with the teacher through the app. It gains high marks for its ability to engage with all stakeholders in a child’s education and the free-play feature students may use at home to increase their learning.
This app also boasts fantastic user support and accessibility features.
Coaches and tutors acting as a business of one will benefit from several features available through Practice.
The file storage feature allows storing and sharing files, links, documents, and videos through a convenient folder system. This helps you stay organized and on top of the information you have shared with clients/students.
The client portal is a one-stop shop to build and maintain your coach/client relationship. You and your client can access shared notes, to-do lists, resources, and more from any web, iOS, or Android device, making it easy to stay connected.
Like ClassDojo, Seesaw is an app that encourages participation and interaction from students, families, and teachers in a safe and inclusive AR space.
Their standards-aligned curricula allow students to build on their previous knowledge with built-in assessments and engaging activities. And student portfolios provide comprehensive data that students and adult stakeholders can reflect on and celebrate.
This app also allows a teacher to share files, videos, and pictures with families creating an inclusive space where families can see their students in their learning environment daily.
This app provides digital flashcards and study tools to help students study more easily and efficiently. Teachers can use the platform to engage students in curriculum-based material written by subject area experts, or they may create and assign their own Quizlet to students as a test study guide. It is free for students and teachers and adaptable to varying learning styles and needs.
The Expert Solutions feature offers step-by-step expert written explanations to millions of textbook problems. All of the solutions have been verified for accuracy and may assist learners with improving the retention of information and preparing for formative assessments.
This management system allows teachers to track student progress and encourage students to interact with fun, curriculum-based material.
The video-based platform targets learners in grades K-8 using animated characters to explain the meaning of a text. BrainPOP also includes lesson planning and professional learning resources for teachers, making integrating what students are learning in the app with other classroom activities easy. Fun, interactive characters, and professional resources make this app a win-win for teachers and students.
Parents can sign up for either the family option or the homeschool option to provide their children with engaging learning opportunities at home.
Created by Harvard and MIT, this learning app provides university-level courses to students worldwide. Registration is free, and students can find courses from many leading universities and institutions.
Teachers working with high school students in an accelerated or alternative program may consider using this platform to help students earn certifications and college credit. Businesses may also use the platform to close skill gaps and develop leadership skills.
8. Dragon Box
From the creators of Kahoot; this app focuses explicitly on math with fun animations.
Created by experts in math education, each sub-app is age/grade specific and uses digital manipulatives to help students better understand mathematical concepts. This app is excellent at building student engagement and has fantastic customer support.
In addition to the app games, there are printable resources for teachers to use in their classrooms.
Dubbed the best note-taking app, Evernote allows you to annotate, brainstorm, and organize your tasks and projects in one easy-to-navigate place.
Keeping your notes and ideas in one convenient, organized space reduces the hassle of trying to track every thought down. With the free version, you can clip articles and pictures, create digital notebooks with tags for organization, sync your information across your devices, and share it with others (even if they don’t use the app).
This app is great for high school students working on group projects, as well as teams in a professional setting to keep their information organized.
This literacy-focused app provides vetted, real-world content for classrooms in Spanish and English.
The most remarkable thing about it is that its content is available in 5 different reading levels. Differentiation is built in and discrete, so students feel good about their reading content. With helpful resources for teachers and a a wide variety of genres, Newslea is a great literacy tool for any classroom.
Teaching App Honorable Mentions
While this list only had room for the ten best teaching apps, a few more shouldn’t go without mention. The following educational apps are versatile and can be used for any subject or grade level to keep learners engaged.
If you are a fan of Google Drive, Google Classroom is a great way to save and share assignments, resources, notes, and presentations with your classroom. This classroom management tool is easy to use and has everything you need in one place. Students can interact and brainstorm together, and the teacher has access to monitor progress. Parents can be invited into the virtual classroom to keep up to date with their child’s assignments and know when work is turned in.
This app is popular among students because it is interactive, fast-paced, and competitive. It also allows students to use their smartphone as an interactive tool, which scores big points with kids. It is also a fun interactive tool for business meetings and training sessions.
You can select from an extensive library of gameshow-style quizzes or write your own. The app tracks the quickest, correct responder and divvies up the points. In the end, a victor is crowned, and you know how well your students understand the material.
This literacy-focused app is terrific at providing differentiated texts. It has over 40,000 titles for students 12 years old and under. The graphics are great, and it is compatible with smartphones and laptops. Audio is available for each text, giving students access to model fluency they can practice aloud as they listen. When they are ready to read the text independently, they can shut off the audio and click through each page independently.
The Bottom Line on Teaching Apps
The best app for your classroom or coaching practice depends on the learners you work with and what outcomes you want to achieve.
They must be highly functional and adaptable to suit different learning styles and abilities. This includes accessibility features like audio texts and voice recognition capabilities. Quality apps also use interactive elements, graphics, and augmented reality to optimize user experience and encourage genuine engagement. Lastly, the top apps have integrated formative assessments for teachers and students to keep track of progress and understanding.
Whether you teach adults or children, you want to provide students with the most engaging learning modes. Each of these apps offers just that. When deciding which app is best suited for what you do, consider the learners first and which app will give them the best experience.
Is Online Learning Effective?
Online learning has the potential to be just as successful as face-to-face learning, if not more. It all relies on the engagement level of the person learning the material. That is why it is so important to find an app that is relevant, engaging, and accessible. Digital apps can also be beneficial in a face-to-face setting because students can work at their level and pace while the teacher monitors progress and checks in individually.
Are Online Learning Apps Safe?
While learning apps provide some level of protection for users, you should be sure to openly communicate the risks of sharing private information online. If you have a child using an app, have a parent login so you can monitor.
Do educational apps increase student achievement?
Studies referenced by the Department of Education have shown that learning apps positively impact student achievement and improve attitudes toward learning.
How Much Time Should I Let My Students Spend on an App?
It is vital to maintain a healthy balance between screen time and face-to-face time. Depending on the learner's age and other health factors, that answer varies greatly. You should consistently implement screen breaks for movement and go with the recommended time for screen use depending on age. Mobile devices are harder to monitor and should be used minimally in a classroom setting with children.
Can I Get Notifications About My Child’s App Use?
Yes. The learning apps mentioned have separate logins for parents and teachers. Link the app to your mobile devices and allow it to send notifications directly to you.
Practice gives coaches and tutors the opportunity to provide their customers with a great user experience. Whether you’re a coach, tutor, or other professional providing educational services, providing your clients and students with timely, relevant information through our client portal and file-sharing feature helps you engage with your audience and build meaningful relationships.
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