Useful, sure. Fun, definitely. But, mobile apps aren’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking of picking up a new skill or even brushing up on the basics.
Where the web rules for providing new ways to learn or advance your skillset, mobile apps are a less obvious source of new knowledge
Still, don’t discount the power of a pocket-sized educational experience. We’re not just talking vocabulary apps and access to articles— some of our favorites are full-blown courses.
So, without further ado, here are a few of our favorite mobile apps—perfect for teaching you something you’ll actually use.
5 mobile apps that can actually teach you something
We were actually surprised that Khan Academy even came with a mobile app. However, it’s pretty awesome. Khan Academy rose to prominence after YouTube-based math lessons came on the scene.
Anyway, Khan Academy’s 100% free online classes are available on Android and iPhone—making it easy to learn algebra, finance, economics, or whatever else you’d like to brush up on.
While the Khan Academy’s offerings are primarily directed at the younger set (think SAT prep and math homework help), there are a ton of courses that curious adults will love, too. For example, there are entrepreneurship courses, history, music, and more.
Lessons come in video form, so you can catch an art history lecture while you cook dinner or learn about far away galaxies on the train. We don’t love that videos are on autoplay (seriously, why is this a thing?), but the UX is on point and the content is great.
The TED app allows you to watch TED talks wherever you are. Play videos on your phone, iPad, or cast to your TV with ChromeCast.
The app comes equipped with nearly 3000 talks you can filter by topic, length, or language. Topics cover science, technology, design, social justice, and more—and stand to at least in some cases, help you expand your brain just a bit more.
And while the app doesn’t necessarily teach you how to code, we like to think that stimulating the brain with a new set of ideas is good for opening up your worldview.
Lynda Mobile App
Lynda.com’s mobile app allows you to access a whole library of classes from your phone. Like the web-based version, Lynda classes are offered as a monthly subscription, so if you’re already subscribed, download the app and learn on the go.
TradeHero is an app that caters to the person who has always wanted to get into the stock market but didn’t really know how to get started.
The app gameifies the stock market, allowing you to buy real stocks with fake money. Okay, well not exactly real stocks, but the scenarios are based on stock activity.
The goal is to broaden your financial knowledge by playing with virtual or real currency. Beginners can learn without risk and “go live” with real cash when they’re ready to start investing.
Udacity is another online source of classes ranging from HTML to blockchain development and cybersecurity. The lifelong learning app aims to help you master in-demand skills from anywhere: mobile, desktop, tablet, you name it.
Most classes fall into the tech vertical and offer a hands-on approach to learning. The courses are free, but you can opt into paying for nano degrees in specific topics. These programs aim to help you level up your skills within a matter of months—and cost about $200 a month.
It’s kind of early to gauge whether these non-traditional courses will land you a job. If you learn the skills, they’ll take you further in your career. However, it’s unclear if the actual piece of paper means anything.