At Alpe, we’re pretty much obsessed with lifelong learning.
When I first joined the company, Yehoshua our CEO bought me two books. And not Kindle ones either. Physical books that I could write in and highlight important parts. The books were part of my orientation and initiation into the company. The ideas discussed in them had been very influential in determining the philosophy and goals of Alpe Audio. Reading them was a great way to get on the same page as my coworkers, develop a common language, and define together what success looks like.
Books have always been a big part of Alpe company culture. I remember when my grandmother got sick and I had to fly home at the last minute, I left the house for my flight and found two books waiting on my doorstep. They were from the company so that I would have something to read on the plane.
A love of reading fits in perfectly with our company culture, where the term “lifelong learner” is on the tip of everyone’s tongue at all times. We are lifelong learners creating a product for fellow lifelong learners.
So what apps are we using for our own lifelong learning? That’s what I’m going to share with you today, some of my personal favorite learning apps. However, before we get into that, I want to take a moment to talk about the mobile learning format in general.
Why the best learning apps are mobile apps
At Alpe, we believe that mobile is absolutely the future of education. Unlike many companies, our mobile app was up and running long before we even had a functional website. (Don’t worry, now we have both.) This is because mobile is intrinsic to what we do.
Well it ties into an entire philosophy on learning. Here’s Yehoshua Zlotogorski, our CEO and one of the co-founders, explaining how he sees it:
For hundreds, thousands of years - this is what learning looked like: If you wanted to learn something new, you went to the sages, the wise men, the teachers. To someone. Knowledge was scarce. And you had to work hard to find it. Once you found that teacher, that source of knowledge, you sat and listened. You drank it in. you drank it in, knowing, that once you left, it would no longer be available to you. And that’s why classrooms were formed. Since knowledge was held by so few, to distribute it efficiently, it had to be done in a one too many format. One teacher, many students.
The students show up in the time and place that makes sense for the teacher, and then in the short time available, try to squeeze in as much information as possible. And this is how things stayed for, literally, thousands of years. However, today with the technology that’s available to us we have the ability to take a look at this model and decide if it’s one that's worth keeping. To rethink learning, as we like to say 😉 -Rethinking Learning Audio course
Because the beauty in mobile, what we call on-the-go, learning is that you can completely fit it to your own lifestyle. As Yehoshua says:
Maybe class should be whenever, wherever? Not just when your teacher is available to teach. Maybe we should be learning when it fits us, our schedule? When we’re most alert, when our attention is sharpest? When we need to review the material so we don’t forget it. --Rethinking Learning Audio course
And that’s what we love about mobile. It gives us the opportunity for all of those things.
So now that I’ve (hopefully!) convinced you that mobile is the future of learning let’s move onto our list of the best mobile learning apps.
Anki: The #1 best learning app aside from Alpe
Ok, so just a heads up we really love Anki. It is truly one of the best learning apps there is. Not the best learning app of course, we’ll save that title for Alpe 😉 But one of the best learning apps.
The concept is super simple. It’s a flashcard app, where you create study sets with the information you want to remember. It’s pretty similar to Quizlet, for those of us who are familiar.
Now, Quizlet might have helped you get through AP Biology, but Anki is designed to help you truly internalize what you learn. Not just for the test, but for ever.
How does it work?
Like Quizlet, Anki is a flashcard app. However, what makes it one of the best learning apps is that it has a special algorithm that helps you review the cards at intervals that work with how our brain naturally processes information. Cards that are easy for you will come up less and cards that are difficult for you will come up more. This taps into the idea of spaced repetition which is a theory of memory that claims that reviewing material over a long period of time is the best way to help it stick in your long term memory.
And Anki is one of the best learning apps for this because it helps you make the most of your time by figuring out exactly when you need to review what. You can read more about how to best utilize this app in this super interesting blog post with Andy Matuschak.
So honestly, TED talks are still one of my favorite sources for casual learning. And the app makes it really easy to learn while doing something else, like dishes. It’s actually my favorite app to use while doing mindless household chores. The 15-20 minute format of the lectures is just about the amount of time I spend cleaning my kitchen every night.
However, the time frame isn’t the only thing I like about TED talks.
To me, the content has benefits that many other learning apps just don’t have. I really like how the content revolves around things that are relevant and likely to come up in everyday conversations.
And feeling like what you’re learning is likely to come up is one type of incentive that motivates people to keep learning. So if I’m talking with a group of people in the office and I’m able to incorporate interesting tidbits that I learnt from TED, then that feeling of accomplishment is enough to motivate me to continue using the app.
Goodreads: is the best learning app still books?
So we do love mobile, but there’s still something about a good book that will always spell learning for us.
However with the Goodreads app, you can bring your love of books on-the-go with you. You can use your bus rides and time waiting in line to research new books and see what your friends and family are reading. Personally I love this app, because it convinces me to read more. Having access to an entire community of people who are reading the same book as you makes the learning so much more concrete.
And when learning feels concrete, it’s much easier to stick with.
Is Duolingo really the best learning app for languages?
I’ve actually never personally used this app but so many of my friends and family have so it felt wrong not to put it on the list.
Most people would say that Duolingo is one of the best learning apps for languages.
I knew our CTO and co-founder Guy Hadash, had some experience using this app to learn Spanish so I asked him what he thought of it.
His answer was interesting. “It’s one of the best apps out there,” he said. “But it’s hard to make it a habit, because there’s no real practical implication for me.”
In other words, Guy was saying that it’s difficult to sustain a learning habit when you don’t see how it can implement itself into your daily life. So Duolingo can be a great option if you have a practical application for the new words that you’re learning. However, as an isolated habit it might be a bit hard to maintain.
This goes back to what I was saying about the TED content. The more often you’re able to incorporate what you’re learning into your life, the more likely you are to stick with the learning habit.
Which brings us to the last - but best - item on our best mobile learning apps list. Ape audio.
At Alpe, we’re cognizant that learning must be practical in order to stick. All of our courses are designed with the listener in mind….at every turn we ask ourselves, “where might this information come up in the listener’s everyday life?”
This helps our users turn learning into a real habit. Something that is concrete and practical. In addition, we are absolutely dedicated to creating features that will help our users take full advantage of the mobile learning format.
We provide written summaries, so that you don’t ever have to take notes. After every lesson, we ask questions that you can answer hands free. Each course also comes with flashcards that are quick and easy to use so that the information stays fresh in your mind. And there’s even an Anki-style algorithm so that you know you’re reviewing the questions you need to be and not wasting time.
And that’s why Alpe Audio is on my list of the best learning apps.
Want to try it out for yourself? You can download it here.