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Learning on the go

(thinkstock.com)

(thinkstock.com)

By GLENNA ALLEN

gallen@newsmagazinenetwork.com

Keeping kids engaged and learning or helping them to study can pose a challenge for moms and dads, but not for technology.

Thousands of software applications for smartphones and mobile devices make learning and studying efficient and affordable – and increase productivity anywhere and anytime. Their nominal price – ranging from free to about $5 per app – make them the perfect “go to” tool for students of all ages.

Early learners

Play is an important way children learn. Apps designed for this age group take advantage of that concept by using games to encourage learning.

Rocket Speller and AR Flashcards focus on letter identification, basic spelling and sight words during play. For number help, Star Gurus, Math Motion: Cupcake!, and Count 2 Play all reinforce counting and simple math skills. As an added benefit, Star Gurus also helps with word pronunciation. Fine and gross motor skills are developed with Painting Gallery and Puppet Pals.

Middle school years

Apps that help develop good study habits are ideal for middle school students. Learning how to be organized, take notes, and glean important information are life skills that will assist through adulthood.

The My Homework app is a free and reliable student planner. It allows students to track homework, tests and assignments, and it supports both block- and period-based schedules. It even sends homework reminders.

Any.do is a touch-based or voice-entry to-do list, which is a useful tool no matter the age.

For a step-by-step guide to solving algebra, geometry or other math problems, students can check out Mathway as a resource.

Secondary success

For help with high school research papers, students can turn to RefMe to help create a reference list for a paper or project. Simply enter a search for the title of a book, journal article, web page or other source and RefMe will find it and format it in whatever citation style is selected.  EasyBib works in a similar fashion.

Wolfram/Alpha is a giant searchable encyclopedia for any kind of science, language or math question.

A familiar name to parents, CliffsNotes Study Guides have gone digital and offer a decent selection of titles at a fee of $2 for each. Of course, the guides are not intended to be a replacement for reading the actual books.

College and beyond

For students pursuing post-secondary education, apps are valuable weapons in the battle against procrastination.

Notability, an iOS application, allows note taking by hand, stylus or typing, or audio recordings and allows the addition of photographs to create detailed study materials. It also will import files, such as teacher slides, which then can be marked up with the student’s own notes.

Flipboard is a personal news feed based on the student’s selection of topics, authors and publications. It will track what is liked and deliver interesting content.

With the Studious app information about professors, class location and assignments may be input and reminders of due dates provided.

Foreign languages are a snap with the Duolingo app which translates new words and provides review material for tests.

The Clear app syncs all to-do lists with other devices and makes it easier to open the lists wherever the student has internet access.

Apps for mobile devices are relatively inexpensive and young people are adept at using them. While they are no substitute for actual parent and teacher involvement, they can be used for regular practice and review. They also can help manage a student’s course load, prepare for exams and even get students to class on time.

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