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Best online learning apps in 2021

Best online learning apps in 2021
(Image credit: Coursera)

Once upon a time, education was confined to the four walls of a classroom. But with the rapid rise of internet-connected technology and mobile applications over the past few years, everyone can now learn anywhere and anytime.

In this day and age, thousands of online learning apps exist for students of all ages and walks of life. These cover kids K-12 and college students, along with adults returning to education and professionals looking to supercharge their career by upskilling. 

Besides suiting the needs of students of all ages, the best educational apps also cover a wealth of subjects and skills. Whether it’s academic subjects, such as math, science, foreign languages, literature, history, philosophy, art, and music, or professional skills, like data science, problem-solving, management, and communications, you’ll find educational and learning apps for any area. And there are new educational and learning apps constantly emerging. 

However, given the wealth of educational and learning apps available for smartphones, tablets, computers, and other devices today, it can be hard to choose the best ones. To help transform your experience as a learner, we’ve rounded up the top online learning apps of 2021. Read on to find out which you need to download on your device.

Perlego

If you want to save money spent on expensive college textbooks and make room on your bookshelf, it’s worth checking out Perlego. It’s an online academic library that provides access to more than 500,000 textbooks published by the likes of Pearson, Cambridge University Press, Harvard University Press, Wiley, and 2000 other academic publishers.

(Image credit: Perlego)

Available on Android, iOS, and desktop, Perlego’s online library contains digital textbooks covering subjects such as architecture, art, science, business, computer science, economics, history, law, mathematics, foreign languages, literature, and more. Overall, there are 900 different textbook topics and subtopics available on Perlego. 

In addition to a large variety of academic textbooks and categories, Perlego also provides tools that make studying easier. For example, you can access a one-click referencing feature, highlight your textbooks, save notes, search for specific keywords in textbooks, and customize your e-reader. What’s more, you can read textbooks via Perlego both online and offline.

But arguably Perlego’s most significant appeal is that it’s a lot cheaper than purchasing college textbooks individually. By signing up for a $18/£12 monthly subscription or a $144/£96 annual subscription, you’ll get unlimited access to a vast number of textbooks. There’s also a 14-day free trial, allowing you to try before you buy.

Kindle 

Although Perlego is an excellent textbook app, Amazon Kindle has long been one of the best and most popular e-book services. It offers a vast digital library of non-fiction books, novels, magazines, newspapers, and so much more.

(Image credit: Amazon)

With the official Android and iOS Kindle apps, you can access millions of e-books on your smartphone or tablet. If you don’t want to spend lots of money on books, you’ll be happy to learn that the Kindle app offers access to one million free ebooks. These include iconic titles such as Prejudice & Predicide and Treasure Island.

Depending on your device’s operating system, the Kindle app also offers lots of handy features. For example, the Android version sports an integrated dictionary, Google search, and Wikipedia. So, when you’re reading a book and find a word you haven’t come across before, you can find out what it means via the built-in dictionary or the Google and Wikipedia links.

Other handy features for learners include the ability to scribble down notes and highlight text in the Kindle app. What’s more, Amazon will sync the last page you read, as well as your notes, highlights, and bookmarks across all your devices. The Kindle app also boasts lots of customization options, such as making fonts smaller or bigger, increasing or decreasing the display brightness, and so on. 

Duolingo 

Duolingo is an excellent free app for anyone who wants to learn a new language. It provides a range of short and fun lessons for learning more than 30 foreign languages on Android, iOS, Windows, and desktop.

(Image credit: Duolingo)

Currently, you can learn languages such as English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Ukrainian, Esperanto, Polish, Greek, Hungarian, Norwegian, Hebrew, Welsh, Arabic, Latin, Hawaiian, Scottish Gaelic, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, and more via Duolingo.

Each lesson typically lasts for around 5 minutes, meaning you can fit language learning around your busy schedule. They’ll enable you to develop speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills in your chosen language. 

Duolingo also provides instant grades in these challenges, so you’ll know straight away if you got a question right or wrong. When you don’t manage to complete a task successfully, Duolingo will help you improve and get it right next time. It also offers other language resources such as Duolingo Stories and Duolingo Podcasts. 

As you continue to take part in different language lessons on Duolingo and reach your learning objectives, you’ll receive virtual currencies, access more advanced levels, and get higher scores on competitive leaderboards. These will serve as visual reminders that you’re progressing and help you stay motivated on your language learning journey. If you want to remove adverts and access additional features, you’ll need to upgrade to a Duolingo Plus account.

Coursera 

Looking to further your career by developing new skills or want to upskill in an entirely different profession? If the answer to either question is yes, then you’ll love Coursera. It’s an online course provider that offers a wide variety of short courses, professional certificates, and college degrees.

(Image credit: Coursera)

What sets Coursera apart from competitors, in particular, is the fact that it’s partnered with more than 200 universities and businesses worldwide. These include Yale, Stanford, the University of Michigan, Imperial College London, Google, IBM, and many other high-profile names.

The Coursera app contains more than 5,100 online courses, 40 certifications, and 25 degrees. They cover various topics and specialisms such as business, computer science, data science, language learning, art and design, personal development, sciences, and many others.

One of the best things about Coursera is that it’s flexible and suits different learners. For starters, there are hundreds of free courses available on Coursera. Meanwhile, premium courses, certificates, and degrees can cost anywhere from $39 to $45,000. Along with plenty of pricing options, you can study anywhere in the world and at any time of the day.

TED

TED may not be your standard online learning platform, but it’s an excellent source of educational and inspirational talks. Usually lasting for under 18 minutes, TED talks cover many different topics and aim to spread inspirational ideas.

(Image credit: TED)

With the TED app, you can watch thousands of TED talks, stay up-to-date with the latest and trending discussions, browse a wide variety of topics, and choose from a list of curated videos. What’s more, you can watch TED talks from all corners of the globe thanks to the subtitles available in more than 100 languages.

If you want to watch a TED talk on-the-go and may not have any internet connection on your travels, then download videos and stream them offline. Should you find a great video and don’t have time to watch it presently, you can add it to your watchlist and stream it at a more convenient time. 

Another great thing about the TED mobile app is that you can use it to stream videos on your smart TV or streaming box. The iOS app allows you to stream content on your Apple TV via AirPlay, while the Android app will enable you to transfer a video to your Chromecast or Android TV. 

Photomath

For any student looking to brush up on their math skills, one app to consider is Photomath. Using it, you can scan paper-based equations via your smartphone’s camera and get instant explanations on the sum in question.

(Image credit: Photomath)

Photomath sports a range of handy features aimed at students, including step-to-step explanations per equation, how-to animations, the ability to browse several methods for solving a math problem, interactive graphs, a multi-purpose scientific calculator, and many others.

The other major advantage of using Photomath is that the app doesn’t require any internet or cellular data. So, if you’re traveling, live in a rural area, run out of data, or don’t have a stable internet connection, you’ll always be able to use Photomath.

As well as offering an extensive list of features and offline usage, Photomath is also suitable for different areas of math. These include basic math, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. The Photomath app is available on both Android and iOS, and also happens to be free. 

ABC Mouse

Over the last year, millions of children across the world have been learning from home. If you’re currently homeschooling a young child or want to boost their learning outside the classroom, a great app to try is ABC Mouse.

(Image credit: ABC Mouse)

Available on smartphones, tablets, and computers, ABC Mouse is an online learning platform that offers more than 10,000 educational activities and 850 lessons created by educators. Aimed at children aged between two and eight, these activities and lessons cover topics such as literacy, numeracy, art and design, science, social studies, music, and many other areas of the curriculum.

The app also provides thousands of books, videos, puzzles, songs, games, animations, and print-out activities. Other features include progress tracking, tickets and rewards, a custom avatar, an interactive zoo, an interactive farm, an interactive aquarium, and more. You can pick up a subscription for $9.95 per month, although new numbers will have one-month free access when they sign up. 

Khan Academy

Khan Academy provides thousands of free educational activities, videos, articles, and other materials covering topics such as mathematics, science, grammar, government, history, economics, and more. 

(Image credit: Khan Academy)

What’s great about the Khan Academy app is that it offers educational content relevant to all learners, whether you’re a current student, an adult returning to education after a long time, or a teacher looking for new educational tools and resources to try in your class.

When you take part in exercises, quizzes, tests, and other activities in the Khan Academy app, it’ll provide feedback to help you improve and get better each time. What’s more, you can bookmark content to access later and download videos to watch without an internet connection.

As you continue to use the Khan Academy app, it’ll suggest content tailored to your educational level and offer activities to perform next. After signing up for an account on the Khan Academy website, you’ll be able to access its learning content on any device. 

Evernote 

Regardless of what you’re studying, you will no doubt take lots of notes as a student. So, it’s definitely a great idea to download a note-taking app on your smartphone or tablet. If you agree, we’d definitely recommend Evernote.

(Image credit: Evernote)

Available to download for free on Android, iOS, and Windows devices, the Evernote app is excellent for creating searchable notes, notebooks, checklists, to-do lists, journals, creating web clippings, and more.

Evernote will also enable you to add a wide variety of media to your notes, including text, sketches, photos, audio, web clippings, and more. If you’ve already written a note by hand and want to upload it to Evernote, you can create a digital copy by scanning it with your smartphone’s camera. Because Evernote runs on the cloud, it’ll sync notes, notebooks, lists, and other items across all your devices.

Google Search app

If you’ve got a burning question and want to find an answer, one of the easiest things to do is perform a quick Google search. And you can speed up this process by downloading the official Google app on your iOS or Android device. 

(Image credit: Google)

Using the search function in the official Google app, you can quickly find out relevant pieces of information and browse all corners of the web. It lets you conduct Google searches by typing text into the search bar, scanning a photo via your device’s camera, and using your voice. 

The Google app also provides relevant content in a feed underneath the search bar, which is a great way to stay informed with everything happening in the world daily. Plus, it’s completely free to download and use on all your devices.