22 favorite mobile apps: Appy Hour on the Future Trends Forum


What are the best apps for education? What can their selection tell us about the evolution of technology?

Lingro to Go – a language-learning app with a key focus: how to use language in the right moment (thanks to Cari Jiminez).

Marco Polo (iTunes, Google Play) – an asynchronous video tool (thanks to Barbara Mitchell).

MyWGU (Google Play, iTunes) – an app for Western Governors University students, aimed at WGU’s portal (thanks to Rachael Larson, who helped develop it).

Nearpod – for classroom presentation and interactive exercises (thanks to Mary Talbut).

Newsmeister – a news quiz tool (thanks to Tim Holmgren, who helped develop it).

Scuttytree – an AI/chat tool that helps students form study groups (thanks to Rod Murray).

Shared grocery lists – an app category very useful for multi-person households (thanks to Maria Anderson).

Smart Kapp – a note-taking app that lets you send content to multiple devices (thanks to Mike Welker).

Stitcher – a leading podcast aggregator (Bryan). We learned that Rod Murray’s podcast is now on Stitcher.

Tripit – a travel planner that creates itineraries (thanks to Maria Anderson).

Vamos a aprender náhuatl (iTunes, Google Play) – a Nahuatl language learning app (thanks to Babette Kraft).

Once we covered the majority of those apps, Rita-Marie then asked us to get meta, wondering how we can best keep up with the deluge of apps? In response, Cari Jimenez suggested three apps for keeping up with apps and information: Product Hunt, Flipboard, and EdSearch. Maria mentioned her vacation habit of downloading a raft of apps all at once, then sifting through them in free time.

I took a step back and wondered about themes which emerged across this range of apps and through our discussion. They included:

  • the wide range of app types. We shared apps for education (on several levels), personal productivity, and mental-health aids.
  • access. Many people were interested in low-cost or free apps.
  • practical pedagogy. Some saw their apps as supplementing a preexisting curriculum (e.g., Desmos, Algebra by Hand, Lingro to Go). Others were standalone learning tools (Vamos a aprender náhuatl).
  • ease of use counted for a lot. We paid attention to improved interfaces and especially to good design.
  • gamification. Many apps used game features, such as points and competition.

What do you think of our list? And what do you make of our experiment?

My thanks to Maria Andersen and Rita-Marie Conrad for offering the Appy Hour idea.

[Editor’s Note: This blog was originally posted on Bryan Alexander’s blog on July 5, 2018.]

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The Future Trends Forum is an open video conversation about the future of higher ed. Each week, a different guest—an inspiring expert, visionary, practitioner, or researcher—talks about their area of interest. Past guests include Audrey Watters, Martin Dougiamas, Anya Kamenetz, George Siemens, Casey Green, and Will Richardson. Check out past recordings here.

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