23 mobile apps educators should watch in 2013

Education got a lot more mobile in 2012 as in-school iPad initiatives, the iPhone 5 launch and online learning providers in general made classroom experiences more interesting—and don't expect to see teaching head back to desktop PC's in 2013. In fact, as MOOCs and hybrid programs continue to evolve, mobile should have an ever more significant role to play.

Looking back at some of 2012's most significant app launches and updates, Education Dive assembled a list of a few of the best apps on iOS and Android devices that we think educators should know about for 2013. Some of these are already out in the wild, and some are still twinkles in their developers' eyes. All of 23 of them stand to be important, however, in the new year:

1. SPIN
Publisher: Net Power & Light
Platform: iOS (iPad – requires iOS 5.0 or later)
Audience: Anyone who wants to learn collaboratively
Price: Free

Spin is bringing interactive learning into the 21st century—the TogetherLearn mobile app allows online learners to virtually recreate traditional classroom elements. Users can pause or fast-forward lectures, skip to another video, write on a digital chalkboard and debate with other users.

2. COURSERA
Publisher: Coursera
Platform: Unreleased
Audience: MOOC participants, presumably
Price: N/A

The coming year will have far-reaching implications for massive open online courses (MOOCs) and, consequently, the future of education. Coursera, the for-profit online learning provider founded by two Stanford University professors, is quickly rising to the top of an emerging market. Coursera, like the other big players, is expected to release a mobile app to sate their technologically adept users. In fact, a job listing on Coursera's website indicates that the company is currently looking for mobile engineers with iOS expertise. Look for this to be one of the more memorable mobile app developments if something ships in 2013.

3. DESIRE2LEARN CAMPUS APPS
Publisher: Desire2Learn
Platform: Android, iOS and BlackBerry devices
Audience: Students, educators and campus administrators of many types
Price: N/A

Desire2Learn's suite of options for its campus apps is always evolving. For instance, the company recently added security features from Guardly to its offerings. Look no further than Desire2Learn.com to read more about the grading and campus life options that are already accessible, but read up on Desire2Learn Binder if you want to know more about what to expect in the coming year.

4. UDEMY
Publisher: Udemy
Platform: iPad (with more to come)
Audience: Udemy students & instructors
Price: Free

Udemy's mobile app already brought online learning to the iPad. Users can take classes, save lectures for offline viewing and interact with other users from their iPads to make the most of the burgeoning online learning experience. Looking ahead, the company just announced $12 million in new funding, and as President and COO Dennis Yang told us, new mobile apps on platforms such as iPhone, Android and Windows devices are going to be a big part of Udemy's new year plans.

5. VERIVO HIGHER EDUCATION PLATFORM
Publisher: Verivo
Platform: Android, Apple and Blackberry
Audience: Universities
Price: N/A

Verivo’s platform for higher education furnishes universities with a comprehensive mobile app. Institutions can commission a customizable app that gives students access to grades, schedules, campus alerts and contact directories, among other things. Faculty can use it to track assignments, post a class schedule and communicate with their students while alumni can receive university news, view/post job opportunities and donate with one click.

6. GENIUS SCAN
Publisher: The Grizzly Labs
Platform: Android (requires 2.3 or later) & iOS (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad – requires iOS 5.1 or later)
Audience: Anyone in need of an on-the-go scanner
Price: Free (Apple)/$0.99 (Android)

Tired of saving receipts? Hate going to the library to scan one page? Look no further — the Genius Scan app transforms hand-held devices into a mobile scanner to create digital copies of documents.

7. MIND NODE
Publisher: IdeasOnCanvas
Platform: iOS (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad – requires iOS 5.1 or later)
Audience: Anyone who wants to map out their ideas
Price: $9.99

Mind Node is an elegant mobile mind mapping app with which users can readily structure their ideas.

8. WORDFLEX TOUCH DICTIONARY
Publisher: Schematix
Platform: iOS (iPad – requires iOS 4.0 or later)
Audience: English language enthusiasts & anyone looking for just the right word
Price: $11.99

Wordflex Touch Dictionary is a visually engaging mobile dictionary that takes full advantage of the touch-screen platform by giving users the means to sweep through expansive word trees with a flick of the finger.

9. BLACKBOARD MOBILE LEARN
Publisher: Blackboard
Platform: Android (varies with device), iOS (iPhone, iPod touch & iPad – requires iOS 5.1 or later) & Blackberry (4.3 or later)
Audience: Students, faculty & administration at Blackboard-friendly institutions
Price: Free

The Blackboard Mobile Learn app brings the Blackboard platform to hand-held devices. Students can access assignments, view grades and engage in discussion boards while professors can post assignments and manage their classes on-the-go. 

10. SOCRATIVE STUDENT CLICKER
Publisher: Socrative
Platform: Android (requires 2.1 or later) & iOS (iPhone, iPod touch & iPad – requires iOS 4.3 or later)
Audience: Students & faculty (6-12 & Higher Ed)
Price: Free

The Socrative Student Clicker platform enables a new form of interactive classroom engagement — teachers can create shareable activities, gather feedback and test students all from their mobile devices.

11. VOICETHREAD
Publisher: VoiceThread.com
Platform: iOS (iPhone, iPod touch & iPad – requires iOS 4.2 or later)
Audience: Preschoolers to professors
Price: Free

VoiceThread is an interactive multimedia app which enables collaborative communication — write, draw and record your thoughts on shared documents, images and videos. Although early versions were met with mixed results, the concept behind VoiceThread has the potential to revolutionize the way we communicate in our increasingly digital age.

12. POWERTEACHER
Publisher: Pearson School Systems
Platform: iOS (iPad – requires iOS 4.3 or later)
Audience: K-12 schools
Price: Free

PowerTeacher is a classroom management solution for the iPad. Teachers can post assignments and grades, access classroom statistics, take notes and communicate with students. However, for use, school districts need to already be using the PowerSchool informations system.

13. TEACHER AIDE PRO
Publisher: In Pocket Solutions
Platform: iOS (requires 2.2 or later)
Audience: Teachers
Price: $7.99

Teacher Aide Pro is a classroom management app that empowers teachers to take attendance, fill in their gradebooks and communicate with students and parents from their mobile devices.

14. SCREEN VNC
Publisher: Edovia
Platform: iOS (iPhone, iPod touch & iPad – requires iOS 5.0 or later)
Audience: Those who need to control their computer(s) from their device(s)
Price: $19.99

Forgot your computer at home? Can’t quite bring your PC to class? Have no fear – Screen VNC enables computer-to-device synchronization. With it, users can control far-away computers from the palms of their hands.

15. EDUCREATIONS INTERACTIVE WHITEBOARD
Publisher: Educreations
Platform: iOS (iPad – requires iOS 4.3 or later)
Audience: Teachers
Price: Free
Educreations enables users to galvanize presentations with interactive text, diagrams, audio and video.

16. EZPDF READER
Publisher: Unidocs
Platform: Android (requires 2.1 or later) & iOS (iPhone, iPod touch & iPad – requires iOS 4.3 or later)
Audience: Anyone who needs an interactive PDF player
Price: $3.99

ezPDF Reader allows users to read, highlight, fill out and take notes in embedded multimedia documents from a mobile device.

17. DRAGON DICTATION
Publisher: Nuance Communications
Platform: iOS (iPhone, iPod touch & iPad – requires iOS 4.0 or later)
Audience: Anyone who wants to turn speech into text
Price: Free

Dragon Dictation records speech and churns out a reliable text transcription. Dictate ideas, record lectures or simply send an email without typing. But it does require an Internet connection.

18. PENULTIMATE
Publisher: Evernote
Platform: iOS (iPad – iOS 3.2 or later)
Audience: Anyone who wants a mobile notebook
Price: $0.99

From the makers of Evernote, the best-selling note-taking app, Penultimate enables users to hand-write thoughts and ideas, take notes, sketch designs and save them all to their iPads.

19. ARTICLES
Publisher: Sophiestication Software
Platform: iOS (iPhone, iPod touch & iPad – requires iOS 5.1 or later)
Audience: Mobile Wikipedia users
Price: $4.99/$2.99 (iPhone)

A mobile Wikipedia reading app, Articles furnishes users with an engaging interface to swiftly search and browse Wikipedia's expansive archives.

20. DOCERI
Publisher: SP Controls
Platform: iOS (iPad – requires iOS 5.0 or later)
Audience: Teachers
Price: Free

Doceri is an interactive whiteboarding and screencasting app — teachers can create and present projects all from their iPads.

21. NEARPOD
Publisher: Panarea
Platform: iOS (iPhone, iPod touch & iPad – requires iOS 4.3 or later)
Audience: Teachers & students
Price: Free

With Nearpod, teachers can administer content to their students while controlling the pace and flow of a given lesson, enabling simultaneous student engagement and teacher assessment.

22. WI-FI FINDER 
Publisher: JiWire
Platform: Android (varies with device) & iOS (iPhone, iPod touch & iPad – requires iOS 3.2 or later)
Audience: Anyone seeking a Wi-Fi hotspot
Price: Free

Having trouble finding a nearby internet connection to use one of these exciting mobile apps? Wi-Fi Finder solves that problem, supplying users with maps pinpointing Wi-Fi hotspots, free or otherwise.

23. LEARNIST 
Publisher: Grockit
Platform: iOS (iPad and iPhone)
Audience: Students and teachers of all things
Price: Free

Grockit put out one of our favorite new iOS releases of the year with their app treatment for Learnist, a sort of Pinterest for education. For swapping lesson ideas or teaching or taking quick video lessons on a vast range of topics, this app is all set. We're eager to see if it hits any new platforms in 2013.

 


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Top Image Credit: Brian Warmoth