iPhone…The Ultimate Learning Device (My 10 Top Learning Apps)

I’ve been waiting patiently, but couldn’t take it any longer as I’ve watched more and more friends whip out their iPhone 3G to get a GPS fix on our location or perform some other mundane task sliced, diced and served on the micro-mobile-super computer that is the iPhone 3G. I know, I’m late to the party, but from the perspective of a technophile, I have to admit I’ve felt very much like Batman’s understudy in these situations. Ultimately, I just couldn’t wait for Veriiphone5zon and Apple to make nice.  I honestly don’t know where to start and I’m not accustomed to blushing, so I’ll simply share where I see potential as it relates to learning apps on the iPhone in general.  But first things first: I’m now convinced that any dialog about the iPhone should begin with a mandatory effort to share one’s favorite iPhone apps.  In that vein, the list below highlights my top 10 learning or educational apps for the iPhone, and attempts to point out where innovation and learning potential inherent to each app might paint a picture of potential future approaches in the world of online learning experiences.

Chris’ Top 10 Eductional Apps for the iPhone

1. Touch Physics by Games 4 Touch

A glimpse of the future now: seamless, motivational learning that is fun, kinesthetic and fully accessible. Learn about friction, gravity, mass, angles and other principles of physics via a clever game that allows you to exercise agency on both the physical and mental level–suitable for just about any age over 4 years old. I’m completely intrigued by the category of “Doodle games” (games where you draw objects on the touch screen that instantiate themselves in the game). These games open up a world of possibilities for any subject and seem like the perfect convergence of device, content and user motivation.  I would be remiss if I also didn’t mention Geared by Bryan Mitchel–an extremely elegant interface that allows the user to manipulate spinning gears around variables of distance, proximity and speed.

2. Kindle for the iPhonekindle1
Of course you lose some ergonomics when compressing the Kindle into the iPhone shell, but the distribution system for e-books (especially those in the public domain) is wonderful. This app has a clever interface, lots of free books and access to the Amazon catalog via a “get book” button.

3. Abc Pocket Phonics

It’s not so much that my five year old adores this application (he does), but it’s what this type of application represents. For language acquisition, the approach is a highly compelling supplement and the touch screen features allow users to trace letters while listening to the sound or word.
Need to learn Chinese characters? Try eStroke Chinese Characters

4. iSeismometer


This application brought back memories of the first time I realized that the Wii controllers house an acceleramator and a gyrometer to measure motion and tilt. This application allows the iPhone to react to various types of external motion. This app provides a very innovative way to learn about how motion is translated into a digital representation.  You can submit your data directly to a website that associates your location with your seismograph data.  Can you think of some learning contexts for this technology?

5. The Chemical Touchchem

I’m not a chemist, but this app really impresses me. A touch sensitive periodic table that allows you to explore various combinatorial properties of chemistry. You can change the chart color to your liking and the extremely high ratings for this app on iTunes reflect its popularity from 5th grade into graduate school. Not finding what you’re looking for? Click on the Internet button to open up the online Wikipedia page.

7. AroundMe by TweakerSoft

I so desperately wanted to pick an iPhone app focused on a specific locale, but none of them were up to snuff. AroundMe locates gas stations, restaurants and other helpful resources and then displays that information on a map relative to your location. From an educational standpoint, I would like to see apps that track on your location in place like DC or Boston (the Discovery apps looked wanting) and display relevant photos, videos or information overlaid on a map—a virtual docent in a box. Presence awareness holds tremendous potential and I’m sure more apps will leverage this in the future.

8. iReadMusic by GLP Softwarecello

Want to learn how to read and play music for a stringed instrument? The touch-sensitive screen allows you to play games (read “learn” here) that help you recognize pitch, notes, and position on a virtual fret. Again, amazingly creative and effective use of device, software and user needs.

9. USA Presidents

This is a typical iPhone flash card program that incorporates photos, quizzes and deck shuffling. A very innovative approach to liven up a traditional learning method. There are flash card programs for just about everything under the sun: anatomy, vocabulary, trivia, etc. Don’t blink or you might not notice how many of these apps are free.

10. Weather Radar by Exact Magic Softwareweather

iPhone apps will always shine in outdoor settings where the issue of mobility separates  the usefulness of the iPhone over a laptop. View realtime video of weather patterns from the closest doppler radar in your area. View fog, clouds and adjust their transparency if you so desire. How can an app like this not stimulate one’s interest in meteorology?

When many of the traditional software constraints of accessibility, price, usability, lack of motivation are gone, why limit learning exclusively to enterprise workplace environments or the classroom since learning ultimately becomes much too interesting and ubiquitous to be restricted to schools and company training departments. Call it what you may, but on-the-go, just-in-time learning has never looked better than on the iPhone 3GS.

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14 Comments Already, Leave Yours Too

Chris LaBelle on 6 October, 2009 at 11:18 am #

Some interesting links on the topic:

iPhones issues as a required tool in some universities:

Fascinating study w/hard numbers on how mobile computing turned a middle school around:

Mobile media landscape stats:

anusen on 6 October, 2009 at 5:09 pm #

We have developed a handful of applications for kids and mainly focusing on education category.

Math Magic: Kids can learn as well as have fun with math. They can practice addition, subtraction, multiplication and divisions. Random problems will be shown to the kids and they need to choose the correct answer

Word Magic: Kids need to choose the missing letters for the picture shown. Best suited for kids from UKG till 2nd standard. http://wordmagic.anusen.com

Math Series: Kids need to identify the missing numbers. The numbers could either be in descending or in ascending orders. http://mathseries.anusen.com

Match Magic: This application is best suited for younger kids < 6 years. They need to match the pictures/colors/count the numbers by identifying and matching them. http://matchmagic.anusen.com

Count Magic: This application is also suited for kids < 6 years. This app helps to kids to learn counting. They need to catch the number shown. As they keep counting, audio voice will help the kids in counting.

Think BIG: This app is kids in 5 to 10 age group. A group of numbers are shown. They need to pick up the largest or smallest number.

All of our games have rewards and stickers and scores built to motivate and encourage the kids.

Please check them out at http://www.anusen.com and videos @ http://www.youtube.com/kidsiphoneapps

Here are couple of blogs on our apps


wausq on 6 October, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

Hi! Just wanted to mention the App iAmino for everybody who has to learn and reference amino acids …


[…] that is fun, kinesthetic and fully accessible.” Mr. LaBelle’s article appeared on the Electronic Papyrus blog on October […]


[…] iPhone…The Ultimate Learning Device (My 10 Top Learning Apps)- Electronic Papyrus, October 6, 2009 […]

Dan on 25 October, 2009 at 4:58 am #

Learning it does not mean only educational stuff. Here is my point of view about this http://usefulfor.me/?p=60
In short 10 apps for learning should be changed to maybe … 10 categories for learning using iPhone …

Chris LaBelle on 26 October, 2009 at 11:50 am #

Dan, so true. So many of the traditional conventions we used to describe online or electronic learning are quickly disappearing and require us to either repackage these traditional words w/new context and meaning or to simply grab hold of new terms. I couldn’t agree with you more that learning as an umbrella term encompasses so much more than the procedural transmission of information to a student or end user, regardless of medium. Included in a “repackaged” definition of learning that is sensitive to social learning and mobile computing trends would be: teaching, p2p activity, problem-solving, social networking….In companies or institutions whose “product” is or depends almost exclusively on knowledge, this therefore would refer to almost every level and type of relationship within the system. No wonder many current discussions of how L&D departments or learning institutions can optimize their commitment to learning go deep into the DNA of the organizations themselves and require a willingness from all levels to exercise responsible participation and mutual ownerships of learning ecosystems.

Best of e-learning « Ramblings from Africa on 6 November, 2009 at 2:24 am #

[…] iPhone…The Ultimate Learning Device (My 10 Top Learning Apps)- Electronic Papyrus, October 6, 2009 […]

Rita on 31 December, 2009 at 6:31 pm #

I am searching for an ap for a sixth grader to help him study vocab for the ISEE test. Can anyone recommend one?
Many thanks!

MaryG on 12 May, 2010 at 3:17 am #

Try the http://www.supermemo.net where you can create your own course or use the ones already there. Also available on iPhone. Great tool for learning!

iphone car mount on 6 June, 2010 at 12:55 am #

very interesting. i wonder if the blackberry gots anything similar

iPhone Car Kit on 6 July, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

Kindle for the iphone is awesome. great way to read your favorite books on the go.

Smartphone on 10 October, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

A good review, these tools are very useful for anyone. and I really like the weather radar. cool! ~ Smartphone

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I’m hoping to create my own website and want to know where you got this from or what the theme is named. Many thanks!

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