As you kick off the new year, maybe you have set a New Year’s resolution. Perhaps this year you would like to learn a new language, pick up a new skill, or work on becoming better at something. Whatever your goal, if it involves learning something new, there are a wide range of apps to help you achieve what you want. Check out the following list of 10 free education apps that will help you learn something new this year.
One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to learn a new language. Most people like the idea of learning a second language, but most never do because they don’t know where to begin. Duolingo is an excellent app that makes it much easier to learn a language.
Duolingo starts off with very basic words and sentences and uses fun exercises to challenge you to use the words for speaking, writing, and listening. Then it gradually adds more words to expand your vocabulary. The exercises on Duolingo are fun and challenging, but not so difficult that it becomes frustrating.
According to research, one of the most effective ways to learn anything is by challenging your brain to actively recall the information, and that is what makes flashcards such a powerful tool for learning. Anki is a flashcard app that takes it a step further by taking advantage of an interesting brain phenomenon to help you learn faster.
Brain research has shown that every time you review a piece of information, it sticks in your brain a little bit longer than it did the last time you reviewed it. So in theory, every time you review a flashcard you should be able to wait a bit longer before reviewing it again. That’s exactly what Anki does. Through a process called spaced repetition, Anki gradually increases the time interval between reviews so you don’t waste time studying things you already know. That makes Anki great for learning vocabulary and foreign languages, because those topics are already well suited to flashcards, but Anki makes the whole process far more efficient.
3. Khan Academy
Khan Academy started out in 2008 with a simple goal. A man named Salman Khan just wanted to help his cousin study for a math test, so he used Yahoo Doodle to tutor her over the Internet. She did so well on her test that other family members also started asking for his help. Eventually, people from all over the place were asking him to tutor them, and Khan Academy was born.
Khan Academy is a non-profit website that provides free educational videos on just about any topic you can imagine. You can learn anything from elementary math to mind bending topics like cryptography and stock market analysis, and all of it is free. Some of the courses also provide supplementary material such as worksheets and quizzes to help you study.
While many of the apps here are focused on providing educational content, TED is different in that it helps you change the way you think. The TED conference is an annual gathering of some of the brightest, most creative, and most inspiring people in the world who give lectures and share their knowledge. Those lectures are then published for free online to be viewed by anyone. You can find lectures from people like Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, and Ray Kurzweil all sharing their lessons and visions for the future.
TED is especially useful when used as supplementary material to some of the other apps listed here. You can use TED to explore and discover new topics you might like to learn about, then use the other apps listed here to dive deeper into the subject.
5. Project Gutenberg
You probably know that copyright laws prevent people from copying books to be resold. But what you might not know is that copyrights eventually expire, and when that happens, the book enters the public domain. Books in the public domain are freely available to reprint and share as you please. Most of the great works of literature are old enough to be public domain works now, and you can get them for free online.
Project Gutenberg is a massive archive of public domain works that have been compiled and curated by volunteers. You can find free full text copies of just about any great work of literature, and even a lot of works you probably haven’t heard of. You can also download them in a variety of different formats to work with your favorite e-reader device.
Librivox is the close cousin of Project Gutenberg. While Project Gutenberg provides ebook copies of public domain works, Librivox provides many of the same works as free audio books. Just like Project Gutenberg, Librivox is maintained by volunteers who create the audio recordings and make them freely available.
Earlier on this list I mentioned Anki, the free flashcard app that helps you study more efficiently. One problem with that is that flashcards only work for very simple pieces of information like vocabulary words. Flashcards don’t work as well for more complex topics or concepts. Lernabit is the answer to that problem.
Just like Anki, Lernabit uses a spaced repetition system to make studying more efficient. The difference is that instead of being a flashcard app, Lernabit is more of a note taking app. Instead of writing down simple flashcards, Lernabit lets you take longer notes about complicated subjects, then it will let you know when it is time to review your notes so you are more likely to remember the information. You can also browse notes from other people and add them to your own review list with just one click.
Memrise is another good general purpose learning app that helps you remember what you learn. It is somewhat similar to Anki, but a little bit different because Memrise provides multiple choice questions and other question formats to help you learn better. Their website doesn’t specifically say that it uses spaced repetition, but they describe an algorithm that appears to be basically the same idea.
Memrise is mostly focused on foreign language learning, but they are gradually expanding into other topics as well.
From the people who made Wikipedia comes Wikibooks, a collection of totally free textbooks developed in wiki format. Anyone can contribute and the books are free to anyone. Most of the books are far from complete, but the ones that are done are very good. Luckily, you can visit this page to get a shortlist of books are that are finished.
In the early 1990’s, a few universities in Europe and the United States began offering videos of their lectures for free on the Internet through an initiative called OpenCourseWare. That project evolved into EdX, which is a joint effort between MIT and Harvard to provide free videos of their lectures and has since grown to include lectures from many other colleges and universities around the world. Some of the lectures cost money, but there are also a lot of free ones available through the platform.
As you can see from this list, the Internet has made it possible to learn just about any topic you can imagine. With the free education apps on this list, you make 2019 a year full of new opportunities to grow through the power of education.