Knowledge and skill acquisition is normally done through formal education during childhood and adolescence. But learning is not — and should never be — exclusive to children and adolescents. Its pursuit ought to continue well into early and middle adulthood and even old age. Fortunately, many app developers think so too, and accordingly they’ve come up with the apps that are geared toward adults who are or in the process of becoming lifelong learners. And in this AppAdvice article, we highlight several of the best learning apps — apps that help make adult education as easy as ABC and as simple as 123.
Your school on the go
If you wish to continue learning with your iOS devices, one of the best places to start is the free virtual university created and maintained by no less than the maker of those devices, Apple. You can access iTunes U — so called because it’s built on Apple’s iTunes digital media platform — through the service’s official app of the same name for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Choose your course
Apple's iTunes U boasts a comprehensive catalog of content from partner schools, universities, and other educational and cultural institutions. This content is accessible primarily through courses across various subjects, which may be private or public. Private courses are open only to students who have duly enrolled in cooperation with their institutions. Public courses, on the other hand, are open to all, so feel free to browse and choose from iTunes U's public course offerings and learn something new (or relearn something old) for free.
Be right on course
Follow the outline and syllabus of your chosen course and be on track toward iOS-assisted edification. Access invaluable resources such as lectures, videos, and books to help you complete the required assignments and ultimately the course itself — so that you can move on to your next course of choice (although nothing's stopping you from taking up as many courses as you can manage at the same time).
Micro lectures with macro impact
Another great e-learning destination is Khan Academy, the nonprofit educational organization created by the eponymous educator Salman Khan. Here you can expand your knowledge and skills in a variety of topics by immersing yourself in micro lectures delivered through streaming videos.
Select your subject
Khan Academy gives you free rein to select the subject you want to learn about, with choices including topics in math, science, economics, humanities, and more. For each topic, the app advances you through a series of subtopics, thereby ensuring that you're well-equipped to tackle more challenging topics.
Watch and learn
Khan Academy features lectures available through YouTube-hosted videos complete with instructive doodles, diagrams, and other visual aids. The app also provides reading materials on different topics and, on iPad, interactive math exercises.
Curiosity feeds the mind
Curious to learn new and practical skills? Then Curious is just the app for you. As the official iOS app of Curious.com, Curious also offers courses, but not necessarily on academic subjects. Rather, it primarily provides courses on learning different skills that you can actually apply to everyday life.
From baking to coding, from gardening to filmmaking, and even from beatboxing to excelling at Excel, Curious helps you learn new skills through video-based course lessons that you can browse and access from the app's extensive library. Curious also includes the so-called Daily Curio, which features a different lesson every day in relation to a subject of topical interest.
Curious boasts a faculty, as it were, that comprises over a thousand online teachers who are qualified to walk you through their respective topics of expertise. You can see them in action in videos embedded in course lessons and in the always-on Curious TV. In return, you can help pay these teachers for their work by upgrading from a free Curious membership to a paid Curious+ membership, which unlocks access to Curious' complete catalog of lessons.
Arts and crafts
If getting handy with arts and crafts is more your thing, Craftsy should be your go-to app. Craftsy offers thousands of projects that can help you hone your skills across different categories of crafts, including sewing, cooking, woodworking, painting, jewelry making, and more.
Craftsy prides itself in its comprehensive collection of online craft classes, which are taught by what it touts as “the world’s best instructors.” And guess what: You can save and access these online classes offline so that you can learn and make stuff even while on the go.
Crafty supplies and kits
Craftsy also offers everything you need to complete your projects, with designer-handpicked kits and supplies that you can order right within the app.
Learn languages gratis
You know that commonly held belief that children are better at learning new languages? Well, studies have shown that it’s just a myth. And you can help debunk its claim further by learning a second (or third or fourth) language using the app that’s commonly, but rightfully, deemed the best in language learning, Duolingo — which lets you learn Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Irish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and English gratis, that is to say, free.
Test yourself s'il vous plaît
Duolingo makes language learning fun through gamification. Put your language proficiency to the test by taking on Duolingo's challenges associated with essential lessons in speaking, listening, and translation. You lose a heart each time you answer incorrectly, and you have to start over when you're all out of hearts. You know what they say: You can't expect to be fluent in French in a day. (That is how the saying goes, right?)
Duolingo features in-lesson grading so that you're instantly informed of what you get right and what you don't. It also keeps track of your day-to-day language learning streak so that you can be motivated to practice every day. Remember: Practice makes parfait (the adjective, not the dessert).
Train your brain
Has your mind gotten a bit rusty with age? Has your brain performance been so weak that it has become difficult for you to remember things, let alone learn new things through courses such as the aforementioned? Perhaps you’re in need of a brain jump-start, which you can get through the acclaimed brain-training app Elevate.
With Elevate, you can go through a brain-training program that’s personalized according to the skills you’d like to improve, which may include articulation, reading and listening focus, writing abilities, and information-processing speed. The program consists of various challenges that you have to complete by playing fun and neat mini games, the full selection of which you can access by upgrading to a Pro subscription.
Elevate’s educational games are said to have been designed in collaboration with experts in neuroscience and cognitive learning. And Elevate motivates you to reach your learning goals with performance and progress tracking across key skill groups.