Let me guess: Your kids spent the summer glued to their phones/tablets/computer screens, right? And now you’re worried that all that screen time will ruin them for the school year to come.
Stop worrying. Because those same devices could be the secret to your kids’ success in school, enabling them to study nearly anything, from anywhere, at any time — assuming, of course, that they have the right apps.
There are apps out there that’ll help them with everything from creating flashcards and bibliographies to learning new languages. Here are five of the best.
If your kids are starting a new language this semester, check out Duolingo: It’s a free, crowdsourced language-learning app that uses the learning patterns of over 100 million users to create curated lesson plans. Duolingo’s ad-free experience offers more than 40 courses covering 23 languages. If that weren’t enough, Duolingo is just plain fun. The app’s intuitive design and easily understood lessons provide an immediate sense of gratification. And it works: I’m proud to say that, after only a couple hours of Spanish, I think I can hold my own with a 4-year-old. Free for iOS, Android, and Windows connected devices.
EasyBib is one of those no-brainer ideas that you’ll wish you’d thought of first. The service enables students to instantly create citations (in MLA format) for bibliographies. And the process couldn’t be more straightforward: You just enter the name of the source and let EasyBib generate the citation, which can then be copied straight to a paper’s bibliography. The mobile versions make it even easier, by scanning book barcodes. The pro version offers support for more than 7,000 additional citation styles (including APA and Chicago) and saves citations for future use. Free for iOS and Android devices, and as Chrome extension and website.
The Homework App
If staying organized isn’t your student’s strong suit, the Homework App — yes, that’s its actual name — could be just what he or she needs: It’s an all-inclusive mobile system for managing student life. It allows users to do everything from track class deadlines to collect contact information and office hours for professors. The dashboard gives you only the most important information you need: tasks, subjects, calendars, and timetables. It’s even compatible with the Apple Watch. Free for iOS devices; upgrades to the School or Pro versions are available for $1.98 (per student) and $2.98.
iStudiez Pro is another student organizer. It can help track schedules, homework, and grades with an intuitive calendar design and a seamless user interface. iStudiez Pro also takes advantage of the cloud to sync all that information between your student’s various devices. (Assuming those devices are running OS X, iOS, or Windows 7 through 10, that is: There’s no Android version.) $9.99 for Mac and Windows PCs; $2.99 for iOS.
Quizlet is the study capital of the Internet. The free mobile and Web-based service provides all kinds of study aids, from flashcards and practice tests to games. Users can create their own study sets (complete with images and audio) or rely on Quizlet’s vast library of prebuilt, user-generated material. To fuel this massive collection, Quizlet curates study sets from its global community of students and teachers; students can use study materials from their peers or from around the world. Free for iOS and Android and online.
Ryan Brown is a entrepreneur, philanthropist, and part-time tech-talker. You can email him here.