The best iPad apps for education and reference materials

by Doug Drinkwater

December 26 2011

We uncover 15 apps to keep students of all ages learning, organized and informed.

These applications were largely chosen for their ability to enhance productivity in the classroom, such as organizing notes, revising or collaborating with fellow students. That said, some applications were also selected for their prominence in helping students reference knowledge, as well as learn key subjects like math, languages, music and science.

Doug Drinkwater is the International Editor of TabTimes and resides in London, England.

Links & Apps

  • 1 TED
    Slide 1

    TED is a standout iPad app which perfectly dovetails education and video, all while utilizing the slick user interface of the iPad. TED is a free app which promises over 700 talks from leading educators, leaders and artists. Users can peruse the talks by subject, and there is also an ability to watch video offline.

  • 2 The Elements: A Visual Exploration
    Slide 2
    The Elements

    The Elements is a wonderfully visual way of learning the periodic table. The app allows users to view 360 degree images of certain materials, as well as unearth all kinds of facts and figures. Furthermore, Elements can even reveal the latest price of materials on the market.

  • 3 iStudiez Pro
    Slide 3
    iStudiez Pro

    iStudiez Pro is something of a life saver for parents or students looking to keep all of their learning in one place. Users can organize assignments, record exam results and create to-do lists. This information can be synchronized across iOS devices. The app also integrates with the iOS calendar, meaning that students can be reminded when to hand in work or attend certain classes.

  • 4 Groupboard
    Slide 4

    Groupboard is a fantastic iPhone/iPad/Android app which turns your tablet/smartphone into a collaborative whiteboard. Users simply have to have a connection to the internet, making this app ideal for online tutoring, study groups and student projects.

  • 5 Flashcards Deluxe
    Slide 5
    Flashcards Deluxe

    Flashcards Deluxe represents a decent effort of digitizing a common source of revising. Flashcards can be created either on your computer or in-app. This app is for iPhone and iPad.

  • 6 Wolfram Alpha
    Slide 6

    Wolfram Alpha is an excellent app for finding out useful (or useless) knowledge in the quickest possible time. Available on Android and iOS, this is a really useful app for last-minute fact checking.

  • 7 DK The Human Body
    Slide 7
    DK The Human Body App

    DK The Human Body is a marvelous application for those looking to explore the structures of the human body. The app offers over 270 high-resolution and full color images, and supports zooming in and out. The app also supports a 3D rotatable human body with selectable layers.

  • 8 Mathboard
    Slide 8

    Primarily designed for children in elementary school, Mathboard supports addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, squares, cubes, and square roots, and also offers multiple-choice quizzes, quick reference tables and a problem solver to sort out any user issues. It supports VGA/HDMI and AirPlay out, meaning that teachers should be able to show some workings on a TV or monitor.

  • 9 Nota
    Slide 9
    Nota for iPad

    Nota for iPad is a useful tool for musicians of any age, but is particularly good for those learning to play the piano. The app has a piano chord and scale browser, a piano and staff note locator, a note quiz and a reference library with over 100 symbols. For beginners, these tools cover basic notation, a full screen piano for practicing and an interactive quiz to test the user’s knowledge of notes.

  • 10 Evernote
    Slide 10

    There may be those who question whether Evernote is truly an education app, but it is a perfect application for students of all ages. With its ability to catch text notes, photos and audio, and share these between mobile and desktop, Evernote is ideal for everything from noting homework reminders to storing full-blown essays.

  • 11 Textbooks
    Slide 11
    Kno Textbooks for iPad

    Gone are the days when students need to lug around heavy books. Kno’s Textbooks promises to carry around your digital textbooks and journals, even allowing you to organize these into terms and classes. The app supports PDF reading and annotation, allows users to create a digital journal and can test students on course content.

  • 12 Audible
    Slide 12

    Ever get fed up of having to read your textbooks? Audible thinks you have, and so offers an iOS application which reads your textbooks to you at your own convenience.

  • 13 Rate My Professors
    Slide 13
    Rate My Professors

    Jokes aside, Rate My Professors is an incredibly useful application (for iPhone and iPad) for those wishing to clue up on prospective lecturers. This app could certainly help students with deciding which course they want to take.

  • 14 ArtSite
    Slide 14

    ArtSite is perhaps the most impressive art app out there for those in education. It allows students to create virtual galleries, find out some background on museum pieces and comment on work of other students. It is also a fantastic tool for teachers, who can download pictures from museum websites, and show material to their class when connecting their iPad to a HD TV. This app is cloud-based, allowing users to access it online or on a mobile device. ArtSite costs $39 a year to teachers. Student access is free.

  • 15 HelloHello
    Slide 15

    HelloHello offers a large variety of apps for those looking to learn a new language, whether that be English, French, German, Italian or Chinese. Users can practice vocabulary, participate in lessons and save notes for future reference.


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