Where Are the Educational Apps for Adults?


Image by Vedat Demirdöven, Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Germany (CC BY-ND 2.0).

A good friend and I often get together to learn new things, have discussions, and work on projects. We sometimes talk about learning things through decent educational apps designed for kids, but this prompted my friend to ask, “Why don’t they make good educational apps for adults?” He had a good point. My hasty reply included something about kids’ parents being more likely to buy apps for them so that they will learn something while they play and also get extra practice to help them at school. Plus, there are so many iPads used in education that the market is primed for the constant deluge of new apps for kids.

But none of these are good excuses. Adults like to learn, too, and we usually have enough money to spend on educational apps for ourselves. We don’t bat an eye when spending up to $10 on an excellent game app, such as Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, or Forbidden Island, for example. We could just as easily spend a few dollars on something that will teach us a new skill or help us gain new knowledge.

Instead, we often have to make do with some of the kids’ apps that can actually challenge us, such as Stack the Countries, Presidents vs. Aliens, or Fantastic Contraption 2. But while the game components of the apps help keep kids’ interest, adults often find those parts take up more time than we’d like, keeping us from the meat of the topic.

Sure, there are plenty of apps out there that help us gain access to information for learning. How Stuff Works, iTunes U, the NASA app, Discovery, and others are all interesting and help us gain access to information. But none of them are packaged to systematically teach us a topic or skill. Most of us have gotten pretty good at looking up information when we need to answer a question, but having an enjoyable way to learn astrophysics, digging into prehistoric mammals, or even learning the Periodic Table of Elements just doesn’t exist for adults. We appreciate an entertaining premise, but we also have longer attention spans and usually desire more detailed knowledge than children do.

So this is a call to all the educational app makers out there. Please make some fun, meaty, and educational apps for adults. There are plenty of us who will buy them, and there aren’t a great deal of them available.

And to our readers, if you happen to know of some excellent existing educational apps for adults, please share them in the comments!

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