More Smartphone App-roaches to Explore: Learning

In School Nutrition’s February 2020 issue, we served up more than 50 smartphone apps grouped in a number of categories, including wellness, finances, leisure time, home management and travel (“Is There an App for That?). In a marketplace of more than two million apps, SN brings a fraction of that total to your attention! But that little rectangle has revolutionized education and how we learn. Digital advancements over the last 30 years have enhanced individual access to information and education to an incalculable degree. Virtually anything you want to know can be found via the internet, and smartphone apps help in this pursuit in many ways, from fine tuning the focus to leveraging different learning styles to storing references for future use.

SN’s crowdsourcing turned up a few of the most universal resources, including the crowdsourced-itself Wikipedia. While not 100% reliable, the breadth of accurate, sourced information one can access is nothing short of astounding: 40 million (and counting) articles in 300+ languages.

Editors are inherent word nerds, so it’s not surprising to find Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster in our personal research. Not only can you use these apps to confirm spelling and haggle over hyphenation (well-being vs well being vs wellbeing?), both apps feature an easy toggle to an integrated thesaurus function, plus “word of the day” push notifications. The differences between the two apps are minimal—you may have a personal preference based on aesthetics or brand name. Whether you write for a living or want to ensure that your Facebook post about a new cafeteria innovation sounds professional, consider Grammarly Keyboard. This app features a grammar checker, as well as a contextual spell checker, along with punctuation correction and vocabulary “enhancements.” It integrates with your keyboard so that you can use it in all apps, from social media to email to SMS.

You’ve probably heard references to TED “talks.” The original TED conference has been held annually since 1990, and videos of its speakers are posted online for free distribution and sharing of innovative, compelling and thought-provoking ideas. The initial emphasis was on technology, entertainment and design (aka TED), but the talks now address a wide range of topics—all within an 18-minute presentation. Past speakers include President Bill Clinton, Stephen Hawking, Jane Goodall, Bono, Pope Francis and many others. Related conferences (sometimes on niche topics, like TEDWomen or TEDMED) have sprung up and TEDx talks are independent events that can be organized by anyone who obtains a license from TED and follows its principles. The TED app feeds your inquisitive spirit and sparks your imagination with access to more than 3,000 talks. Browse by themes, listen to episodes of the Ted Radio Hour podcast, follow curated playlists or build your own custom list.

One super-specific app brought to our attention, PlantSnap, is representative of an expanding area of app assistance. Take a picture of plants, flowers, trees and more and get instant identification! The huge database is great to serve both general curiosity (What’s that pretty flowering tree?) and critical information (Is that poison ivy or not?) The app is free to use but requires email registration.

Feeling overwhelmed by the number of interesting articles, videos and podcasts shared through your Facebook feed? Spot something that intrigues you but you don’t have the time or focus to enjoy in the moment? Pocket lets you capture this content and store it in an easily accessible place to read, view or listen to later at your convenience. A premium version allows for more robust searching and automatic article backups.

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