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Last Updated on January 27, 2021

17 Best Learning Apps to Help You Learn Faster and Better

17 Best Learning Apps to Help You Learn Faster and Better

Do you want to learn a new skill or make a shift in your career? Learning apps can be a great solution.

Lifelong learning is not a fad. With the emergence of search engines more than a decade ago, information has never been easier to accumulate.

Learning apps have quickly become a go-to method of enhancing or accruing skills for students and professionals alike. While college degrees are still seen as high-priority accomplishments in the workplace today, people are becoming increasingly warm to the idea of building skills on the side as an acceptable replacement for a diploma.

With so many credible resources available to jumpstart a new part of your career, what are you waiting for?

If you’re looking to gain a new skill or improve upon one in which you’re already invested, this exclusive list of the very best learning apps can help you learn more effectively and reach new heights in your career, no matter your learning style.

1. Lynda

Lynda app

    The current king (or queen) of learning apps is Lynda. Owned by technology super-power Microsoft, this platform boasts a wide array of courses not available anywhere else.

    Lynda was founded in 1995 by a digital arts master named, you guessed it, Lynda Weinman.

    The top skills you can begin accruing on the site include:

    • Software development
    • Web development
    • Photography
    • Business
    • Design

    Once you secure your subscription, you get unlimited access to all courses (for the compulsive types that like switching around). All courses are taught by expert instructors and industry experts.

    Available for iOS | Android | Web

    Pricing: A Lynda membership will cost $25 per month.

    2. LinkedIn Learning

    LinkedIn Learning (Android)

       

      This professional network has made a massive push toward educating its dedicated users. LinkedIn Learning is their platform to promote positive growth and learning in your career.

      While LinkedIn is also owned by Microsoft, there are key difference between Lynda and LinkedIn Learning. The largest differentiator between these platforms is that LinkedIn Learning comes as a package deal with your LinkedIn Premium subscription.

      This is highly beneficial to those who are already serious enough about their online career development that they hold a monthly membership to Premium.

      The library here is incredibly vast, spanning from business to creative and technology skills.

      Available for iOS | Android | Web

      Pricing: LinkedIn Learning is completely free with a LinkedIn premium subscription, starting at $30.

      3. Udemy

      Udemy app

        Not the monthly membership type? This learning app may be just right for you.

        Udemy is a “learn on demand” website and app that starts their course pricing at $10.99. This allows you the flexibility to take your time on a course you purchase over the course of several months, without worrying about recurring payments before you finish.

        Many career-oriented individuals want to improve their skills and habits, but the reality is that workdays typically require most of their time.

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        This flexible learning app allows you to take things slow, fast, or anywhere in-between with complete control on your end.

        Available for iOS | Android | Web

        Pricing: As mentioned above, courses start at $10.99.

        4. Khan Academy

        Khan Academy Free Learning App for Android

           

          For many of us out there, we simply can’t afford to splurge on extracurricular skill-building. We want to improve ourselves and advance our careers, but we would need to do so on a minimal budget.

          Enter Khan Academy, a completely free database of courses where you can learn anything.

          The skills you can anticipate to build here are less focused on business, technology, and design, and more so on math, science, and finance.

          Khan is a great resource for students, young professionals, and seasoned career veterans.

          Averrable for iOS | Android | Web

          Pricing: Free

          5. Udacity

          Udacity learning app

             

            If you’re looking to master in-demand skills, but want to tackle it all at your own pace, then Udacity is an educational app right up your alley.

            Udacity offers what they call Nanodegrees, and they can help you learn enough to actually consider changing careers altogether!

            The best part is that you can learn on Udacity for free!

            Available for iOS | Android | Web

            Pricing: Free for skill videos. The Nanodegrees start at around $599, or payments of $50 per month.

            6. Coursera

            Coursera learning app

              Much like similar platforms, Coursera offers courses and certifications to further your knowledge and boost your career.

              It also offers the opportunity to earn your degree online through prestigious institutions, such as: Yale, Michigan, Stanford, and leading companies like Google and IBM.

              This learning app is unique in that it provides free information, but the paid information is directly tied to actual accredited institutions.

              Available for iOS | Android | Web

              Pricing: Courses are free. Degrees vary in price.

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              7. Mimo

              Mimo screenshot

                One of the world’s most valuable and popular skills to build is coding. Whether you are looking to build websites, apps, or databases, there is a substantial need for this in the workplace.

                Mimo provides you with the opportunity to make a drastic switch in your career to computer science, or simply refine your current development skills.

                Available for iOS | Android | Web

                Pricing: Free

                8. TED-Ed

                Ted-Ed

                  By now, you’ve watched dozens of TED talks and heard a plethora of messages from these events. TED is one of the largest events in the world, and its main ambition is to be a thought leader for anyone seeking knowledge.

                  TED-Ed is an extension of this great effort, taking the form of an online education system. The topics on TED-Ed are not always as tactical as other apps on this list.

                  The courses you find here range from “What is imposter syndrome and how can you combat it?” to “Did the Amazons really exist?”

                  Available for iOS | Android | Web

                  Pricing: Free

                  9. Duolingo

                  Duolingo language learning app

                    Dedicating time to language learning may have more of a positive impact on the world than acquiring any other skill.

                    Think about it:

                    How many people are there in the world that, if you sparked up a conversation, wouldn’t understand a word you say?

                    Duolingo is the premier leader in language education for learning apps. You can learn to speak 29 different languages, all at the touch of a button. You’ll be invited to not only read new words, but to speak them. You’ll learn grammar, jargon, and conversational tactics.

                    Make your impact on the world by learning to communicate with a new portion of its inhabitants!

                    Available for iOS | Android | Web

                    Pricing: Free

                    10. Headspace

                    Headspace app

                      Going outside the box, one of the crucial skills you can acquire is mastering your mental health. This is no easy task, but with the help of Headspace, you will be able to make a vast impact on your mindset.

                      Headspace uses exercises in breathing, meditating, and being aware to strengthen your mind and build up resistance against stress and anxiety.

                      Learning to improve your mental health through concerted effort will have a massively positive effect on your ability to seize the day and achieve your goals.

                      Available for iOS | Android | Web

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                      Pricing: Free

                      11. Mind Tools

                      MindTools app

                         

                        Since 1996, Mind Tools has been helping people boost their careers through lifelong education. It focuses specifically on providing the essential content you need to build an excellent career, striving to eliminate the fluff.

                        If you are looking to make a career change in the most efficient way possible, Mind Tools is a great option.

                        Available for iOS | Android | Web

                        Pricing: $1 for the first month, then $19 per month.

                        12. Blinkist

                        Blinkist learning app

                          Are you an avid reader with little time to spare? Or maybe you’ve never enjoyed reading because the content is too long?

                          Either way, Blinkist aims to eliminate these issues.

                          Blinkist’s goal is to give you key ideas from nonfiction books in 15 mins. They also offer the ability to read this content offline, making this one of the most convenient and accessible learning apps.

                          Available for iOS | Android | Web

                          Pricing: $79.99 per year.

                          13. Elevate – Brain Training

                          Elevate learning app

                            The simple things in life are often the most important. Elevate is aiming to prove that to you with brain training personalized to your needs.

                            Inviting you to stay sharp, build your confidence, and boost your productivity, Elevate is an app that organizes games and activities on your phone that will accomplish these goals.

                            By improving small habits, you will see an uptick in energy, efficiency, and effectiveness.

                            Available for iOS | Android

                            Pricing: Free trial, then $45 per year.

                            14. MasterClass

                            Masterclass app

                              While the other platforms for learning on this list provide exceeding value, none allow you to sneak into the mind of an actual expert quite like MasterClass.

                              Do you want to learn to cook like Gordon Ramsey? It may be best to actually have him teach you personally.

                              Want to learn the ins and outs of directing a movie? Ron Howard can offer unparalleled expertise.

                              On MasterClass, these are the teachers: industry experts, the best of the best. Learn real world skills from real world masters.

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                              Available for iOS |  Web

                              Pricing: $180 per year for access to all courses.

                              15. Skillshare

                              Skillshare screenshot

                                Boasting a library of over 22,000 free and premium courses, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a larger provider of online education than Skillshare, making this one of the best learning apps.

                                All classes are online and strive to take you on a journey from no skill to trustworthy expert.

                                Ranging from topics such as creativity and lifestyle to business and technology, there is very little you won’t find here.

                                Available for iOS | Android | Web

                                Pricing: Free trial, then $45 per year.

                                16. edX

                                EdX

                                  Much like Coursera, edX aims to connect you with educators from highly prestigious universities. If you don’t want to risk learning from someone who barely has more experience than you, edX is for you.

                                  Here, you can learn about computer science, language, statistics, and even humanities from institutions like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT.

                                  Available for iOS | Android | Web

                                  Pricing: Free

                                  17. CreativeLive

                                  CreativeLive learning app

                                    Focusing more on the creative skills and jobs out there, Creative Live is a leader in helping you “answer your creative calling.”

                                    You’ll be able to learn from key influencers, such as Mel Robbins, Lisa Congdon, and John Greengo.

                                    The key difference here is that courses are not free. The app is free to download and explore, but it will take an investment on your part to get access to these expert-led lessons.

                                    Available for iOS |  Web

                                    Pricing: Starting at $99 per course.

                                    The Bottom Line

                                    No matter what you are trying to learn and where you feel is best for you to do that, the most important thing is that you take action!

                                    Start learning something new today, and repeat the pattern daily for the rest of your life. Visit the learning apps on this list and find which one is best for you!

                                    Lifelong learning is easier than ever before, and it’s something you really should take advantage of.

                                    More Learning Tips

                                    Featured photo credit: Daria Nepriakhina via unsplash.com

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                                    Blake Emal

                                    A young entrepreneur who took a leap of faith and moved away from his comfort zone to build his own business

                                    17 Best Learning Apps to Help You Learn Faster and Better

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                                    Published on March 1, 2021

                                    What Is Double Loop Learning And How Is It Valuable?

                                    What Is Double Loop Learning And How Is It Valuable?

                                    As someone on the Millennial/Generation X cusp, one of my first memories of a news story was the devastating crash of the Challenger space shuttle. I couldn’t process the severity or the specifics of the event at the time, but looking back, the Challenger explosion represents a heartbreaking example of what can happen when systems fail.

                                    A part of the shuttle known as the O-ring was faulty. People from NASA knew about it well before the disaster, but NASA employees either ignored the problem—writing it off as not that bad—or were ignored when they tried to alert higher-ups about the issue.[1] This is a tragic example of single-loop learning where organizations focus on what they’re doing without reflecting on how or why they’re doing it, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

                                    Single and Double-Loop Learning

                                    Chris Argyris describes the difference between single and double-loop learning with a metaphor. A thermostat that turns on and off when it senses a pre-set temperature is akin to single-loop learning. The thermostat being able to reflect on whether or not it should be set to that temperature in the first place would be more like double-loop learning.[2]

                                    Imagine the difference if NASA would have encouraged and addressed employees’ questions about how they were doing, what they were doing, and whether or not they should be doing it at all—you’ll start to see how an extra layer of questioning and critical thought can help organizations thrive.

                                    Single Loop Learning

                                    Single-loop learning is when planning leads to action, which leads to reflection on those actions and then back to planning, action, and more reflection. Now, you might think that because reflection is involved, single-loop learning would be an effective organizational model. However, because there isn’t room for critical questions that ask why actions are being taken, problems begin to bubble up.

                                    The Double Bind

                                    When organizations are operating in single-loop learning, they get stuck in what Argyris calls the Double Bind. Because there’s no value placed on questioning why the team is doing something, team members are either punished for speaking up or punished for not speaking up if something goes wrong down the line.

                                    Primary Inhibiting Loop

                                    When an organization is stuck in single-loop learning, the double bind leads to what Argyris calls the primary inhibiting loop. Real learning and growth are inhibited because team members withhold information from each other. This withholding leads to distrust and is difficult to remedy because even if employees attempt to become more forthcoming, lack of trust sours interactions.

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                                    Secondary Inhibiting Loop

                                    Because information is being withheld, team members play unconscious games (not the fun kind) to protect each other’s feelings. For example, I might try to distract my colleagues from worrying about a problem in our plan by shifting the focus to another project we’re working on that’s going better.

                                    When you’re stuck in single-loop learning, the organization does whatever it can to continue taking action after action instead of stopping to truly reassess the bigger picture. This leads team members to hide information from each other, which causes distrust and behaviors that try to mask flaws in the organization’s structures and systems.

                                    Double Loop Learning in Organizations

                                    A common misconception is that the opposite of single-loop learning involves focusing primarily on people’s feelings and allowing employees to manage themselves. However, the solution for single-loop learning is not about doing the opposite. It’s about adding an extra later of critical analysis—double-loop learning.

                                    With double-loop learning, questioning why the organization is doing what it’s doing is an organizational value. Instead of moving from planning to action to reflection and back to planning, in double-loop learning, people are encouraged to reflect on why they’re doing what they’re doing. This can help the organization take a step back and reconsider what’s best for all stakeholders instead of being stuck acting and reacting.

                                    Ultimately, double-loop learning gives team members the time, space, and systems to ask tough questions and have them addressed in meaningful ways.

                                    Let’s think back to the Challenger disaster. If NASA had created an organization that uses double-loop learning, employees wouldn’t have felt compelled to stay silent, and the employees who did speak up would have influenced the process enough to reconsider the timeline and develop a solution for the O-ring problem.

                                    Single-loop learning is like a train with no breaks. Double-loop learning provides the extra layer of critical thought that allows the organization to stop and pivot when that’s what’s required.

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                                    Think back to Argyris’ thermostat metaphor. Instead of just reacting—turning on and off when it detects a certain temperature—double-loop learning invites the thermostat to reconsider why it’s doing what it’s doing and how it might do it better.

                                    How to Shift to Double Loop Learning

                                    So, how can organizations shift from single to double-loop learning?

                                    1. Stakeholders Must Level With Each Other

                                    The first step to shifting from single to double-loop learning is for all stakeholders to sit down and talk openly about their expectations, values, and goals. These sessions should be led by organizational experts to ensure that old single-loop learning habits of distrust, withholding, and game-playing don’t keep people stuck in single-loop learning.

                                    One of the keys to team members leveling with each other is listening. Focus on creating an environment where everyone can speak up without fear of judgment or punishment.

                                    2. Create Benchmarks for Lasting Growth and Change

                                    Old habits die hard, and single-loop learning is no different. If systems, check-ins, benchmarks, and periodic times to reflect and reset aren’t put into place, old habits of withholding and mistrust will likely creep back in. You can guard against this by making it a norm to measure, assess, and improve how new double-loop learning systems are being implemented over time.

                                    3. Reward Risk-Taking and Critical Feedback

                                    Double-loop learning requires squeaky wheels. You have to create a culture that rewards criticism, risk-taking, and reflecting on the system as a whole and the reasons the organization does what it does. Think big picture stuff.

                                    This is about walking the walk. It’s one thing to tell employees to speak up and give their feedback, it’s another thing entirely to have systems in place that make employees feel safe enough to do so.

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                                    Kimberly Scott’s Radical Candor comes to mind as one way to start shifting to a more open and critical environment. Radical Candor is a system that incentivizes employees and managers to start speaking up about things they used to sweep under the rug. It’s a roadmap and a way to assess and improve open and reflective feedback between all stakeholders.

                                    Double Loop Learning for Individuals

                                    Double-loop learning isn’t only for organizations. You can also apply Argyris’ ideas to your learning.[3]

                                    Here’s how that might look:

                                    1. Level With Yourself and Seek Accountability

                                    Instead of being stuck in a single-loop learning cycle, break out by adding another layer of critical reflection. Why are you learning what you’re learning? Is it important? Is there another way? Think big picture again.

                                    Become clear on what you want to learn and how you’re currently trying to learn it. Then, open yourself up to others to keep yourself accountable. Leave the door open to completely shift major details about your learning goals.

                                    2. Create Benchmarks and Don’t Put Your Head in the Sand

                                    Just as with organizations, individuals also need to create goals and continuously reflect on whether or not they’re moving toward double-loop learning. Schedule times to meet with the people keeping you accountable for your learning plan. Then, ask yourself whether or not your learning goals still make sense.

                                    Ask big picture questions. Are you in the right environment to learn? Is your learning plan working? Do you need to change course altogether or shift your goals entirely? If it’s double-loop learning, you can’t be afraid to ask questions about why you’re doing what you’re doing and change course when the need arises.

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                                    3. Value Risk-Taking and Accept Criticism

                                    You’re also going to need to shift your mindset from simply learning and reflecting to accepting criticism, being critical of yourself as a learner, and taking risks and experiencing discomfort as you ask big questions and make drastic alterations to your learning plan over time.

                                    Instead of concerning yourself with grades and GPAs, double-loop learning would mean you’re allowing yourself time to step back and analyze why you’re learning what you’re learning, if there’s a better way, and even whether or not you should be on that learning trajectory in the first place.

                                    Final Thoughts

                                    Think back to the thermostat example. Doing homework, handing it in, and then receiving a grade is single-loop learning. Thinking about why you’re doing any of that and making appropriate changes that align with your learning goals shifts you into double-loop learning, and that’s a great way to see the bigger picture and get the best results.

                                    Learning and reflection are two of the most important things when it comes to organizational or personal development. This is why double-loop learning is key if you want yourself or your organization to succeed.

                                    More Tips on Effective Learning

                                    Featured photo credit: Cherrydeck via unsplash.com

                                    Reference

                                    [1] NPR: Challenger: What Went Wrong
                                    [2] Harvard Business Review: Double Loop Learning in Organizations
                                    [3] Journal of Advanced Learning: The role of reflection in single and double-loop learning

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