The Best Apps for Teachers and Educators for 2021

The Best Apps for Teachers and Educators for 2021
Imed Bouchrika by Imed Bouchrika
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

The transition to distance teaching and learning can be very difficult. On the other hand, there are many reasons why people do not necessarily quickly adopt new technologies and continuously use them. Panigrahi and co-researchers (2018) speak of technology inhibitors in education. These include factors like information overload, irrelevant information requests, redundancy of required efforts, and intrusiveness of software programs. As such, only well-built and tested apps can deliver users from pesky usage issues. So, if you want to make distance teaching and learning easier, knowing the best apps for teachers and educators is in order.

This article provides you with a list of useful applications that educators and teachers can use to teach online more effectively. They range from tools for lesson planning and classroom management to general and collaborative learning resources. Short descriptions will be provided and also screenshots of dashboards whenever they are available.

The Best Apps for Teachers and Educators

  1. What to Consider in Choosing the Best Apps for Teachers and Educators
  2. Lesson Planning Applications
  3. Classroom Management Software
  4. Notetaking and Creative Collaboration Tools
  5. Communication Solutions

The impact of COVID-19 on education cannot be overstated. From May 9 to May 15, 2020, 49 U.S. states have either closed schools or entire school districts (Peele et al., 2020). By December 3, 2020, only four states have orders to reopen (EW Staff, 2020 in CNN, 2020). They are Texas, Florida, Iowa, and Arkansas. Most states, however, have no order yet to reopen. This means that the decision to reopen rests more or less fully on the districts themselves. This includes schedules, teaching setups, and health protocols.

More likely than not, reopening for most districts and schools would not impose a traditional full face-to-face interaction. A more blended type of education provision is expected. With pandemic fears and trauma still hot, around 16% of parents in the U.S. have reported that they are very likely to seek full-time alternative schooling opportunities for their children (Civic Science, 2020). Another 23% voiced out that they are only somewhat likely to. The majority, at 61%, feel today that they are not all likely to find full-time alternative education for their children.

Source: CivicScience

However, we can expect that many of the 61% expect their districts to exercise prudence when it comes to health and safety protocols. And, to fall within the standards of limiting close physical interactions, a good chunk of class time will likely take place solely online. And online tools that were meant to supplement face-to-face learning like learning management systems (LMS) are to be used mostly in their stead. So, it is important to know which ones can fill a bigger role in the provision of educational services. And, this guide hopes to help you find those.

What to Consider in Choosing the Best Apps for Teachers and Educators

There is no question that there are barriers to technology adoption, such as ineffective communication among others. Many of these come from the majority of online students themselves at 69%. And stakeholder perceptions are the main drivers of initial adoption success. The two main factors include: (a) perceived usefulness and (b) perceived ease-of-use (Panigrahi, Srivastava, and Sharma, 2018).

They form the two-pronged usefulness-usability requirement for excellent user experience design. This, though, depends on not just how technological tools like applications are designed but also on the level of user expertise and their needs. This is pretty much a highly-nuanced situation. However, there are general things to consider when choosing the best apps for teachers and educators to use. And they all fall in between usefulness and usability.

When it comes to distant learning delivery, as much as 24% of students are concerned that the quality of instruction and support might not exactly match its traditional counterpart. This is understandable, given that many students could be opting for that route for the first time in their student lives.

student concern, elearning

The first two things that you need to consider are your needs and budget. This will be the case when you are either part of an institution or going at it alone. You first need to determine what outcomes and benchmarks do you want to hit, then scout for software that can help you do so with relative ease. Of course, this ties up together with your budget, which you do not want to go over. Given these two criteria, you will be able to cut down on the number of prospective software and create a shortlist.

Then, you need to consider the scalability of features and support. Your needs may start out small at first but they may grow and branch out. For instance, a free version of a notetaking software only supports collaboration for up to five users and this is good for collaborating with your fellow teachers on lesson plans. However, when you want to have your class work collaboratively on a single project, then this might not be enough. Thus, you need to take into account what your projected needs are and find a software product that can scale to match.

Lastly, but not least important, you need to make sure that the software solutions you purchase or use are highly usable. This means that you and other prospective users will find it easy to adopt at the get-go. The best apps for teachers and educators do not only have comprehensive features but they house these features in a very intuitive interface. A well-built user-friendly interface will nudge new users to give the product a try. Also, it makes the software enjoyable to use. Choosing a good usable and useful platform can be a lot of help.

When you consider these factors beforehand, you will be able to pare down your scouted software list. And, this will help you ensure that the digital tools you choose are both highly usable and useful.

List of Best Apps for Teachers and Educators

This list includes the best educational apps for teachers, divided into different software categories. The software categories are (1) lesson planning applications, (2) classroom management software, (3) notetaking and creative collaboration tools, (4) communication solutions, and (5) supplemental learning resources. These can help you:

  • create engaging course materials
  • collaborate with other faculty and students
  • manage classroom objectives and activities
  • keep an open line with students; and
  • offer extended support by providing additional learning resources

In the next sections, a list of educational apps for teachers will be provided together with core information, including which platforms they are available in, starting price, and key features.

Lesson Planning Applications

MasteryConnect Common Core Standards

Common Core Standards - MasteryConnect

A screenshot of the Resource Pin interface.

Platforms: WebiOS, Android

Price: Free

Key Features

  • Resource Pins
  • Standards for each state, class, and subjects
  • Student Report/Parent Communication
  • Grading Tools
  • Mastery Tracker

MasterConnect offers a free Common Core Standards application tailored for every US State Core Standards. It offers teachers resources aligned with both state and Common Core standards. The app allows educators to upload their very own curriculum maps and resources to be shared through a familiar resource pin interface with students.

Planboard

Planboard dashboard

The lesson planning interface on Planboard.

Platforms: Web, iOS, Android

Price: Free

Key Features

  • Digital Planbook
  • Lesson Templates
  • Media Uploads
  • Progression Monitoring
  • Online and Offline Lesson Sharing

Planboard is a free online lesson planning and grade book tool. It has an intuitive interface with a familiar social media feel. It allows you to create engaging lesson plans complete with media. And it easily connects your curriculum map with pertinent US state and Canadian provincial standards.

Classroom Management Software

TeacherKit

TeacherKit Dashboard

A screenshot of the TeacherKit Schools interface.

Platform: WebWindowsiOS, Android

Pricing: 

  • Standard at $0.7
  • Plus at $1 per student
  • Enterprise $1.3

Key Features: 

  • Auto-Graded Assignments
  • Record Behavior
  • Take Attendance
  • SCORM Compliance
  • Badges, Rewards, and Appraisals

An all-in-one class and course management platform, TeacherKit allows educators not only to create and plan their curriculum but also to provide them with collaboration and communication tools in order to keep in touch with peers, students, and parents. The platform has an advanced reporting system complete with features to create a customized grading system. It syncs data across multiple devices and can work offline.

Socrative Teacher

Socrative Teacher Dashboard

A screenshot of the gamification feature on Socrative Teacher.

Platforms: Web, iOS, Android, Chrome

Pricing:

  • Socrative Free – Free
  • Socrative Pro for K-12 Teachers – $59.99/year
  • Socrative Pro for Higher Ed and Corporate – $99.9/year

Key Features: 

  • Student Understanding Reports and Visualizations
  • Custom Quiz Creator
  • Gamification
  • Personalized Activities
  • Exit Tickets

Socrative Teacher is a classroom management application designed with fun in mind. It features gamification modules and advanced student understanding reporting packed inside its intuitive user interface. It has a free version available with limited features. Premium versions are also available for K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, and corporate training professionals. Moreover, Socrative is free for students.

Edsys Teacher App

Edsys Teacher App

A screenshot of the Edsys main website.

Platforms: iOS, Android

Price:

  • Basic at ₹1,200 per month ($16.31)
  • Premium ₹,2400 per month ($32.61)
  • Premium Plus ₹3,600 per month ($48.92)

Key Features:

  • Classroom Attendance Management
  • Time-Table and Schedule Management
  • Homework Management
  • Teacher-Parent Communication
  • Elearning Content Creator

Edsys Teacher App helps teachers manage all class activities and requirements in one single digital hub. It has useful modules for curriculum creation, attendance tracking, and managing assignments and projects, among others.  The product also helps stakeholders stay connected with built-in tools for communication and collaboration like its parent-teacher portal. The solution offers a free lifetime subscription, complete with features for School ERP and even a Library Management System. However, its main business is with Indian educational institutions.

Additio

additio dashboard

A screenshot Additio’s attendance and tardiness tracker.

Platforms: Web, iOS, Android

Pricing: 

  • Plus (for individual teachers) – 8.99€ ($10.91)
  • Collaborate – Quote-Based
  • Additio for Schools – Quote-Based

Key Features:

  • Standards-Based Gradebook
  • Rubrics Assessment
  • Communication Tools
  • Planner
  • Work Offline

Additio is an easy-to-use classroom management suite complete with modules for lesson planning, attendance tracking, and rubrics assessment. Its powerful lesson planner allows you to create didactic sessions and units. Plus, it is fitted with communication tools for students and teachers. Moreover, it seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom.

Groovy Grader

Groovy Grader Dashboard

The Groovy Grader dashboard on iPhone.

Platforms: iOS

Price: Free

Key Features:

  • Easy-to-Use Paper Grading Calculator
  • Flexible to Work up to Hundreds of Questions
  • Show Numbers of Correct and Incorrect Answers

As simple as it is useful, Groovy Grader is a paper grading calculator app for Apple devices. The application helps teachers choose the right grade for a student based on the number of quiz questions and the number of correct and incorrect answers. Also, it is customizable to support hundreds of questions. It is lightweight and grades can be configured as whole numbers or include one decimal place.

Seesaw

Seesaw Dashboard

A visual aid for the rain cycle created by a student user of Seesaw.

Platforms: Web, iOS, Android, Chrome, Kindle 

Pricing:

  • Core Seesaw Service – Free for Teachers, Students, and Parents
  • Seesaw Plus – $120/year
  • Seesaw for Schools – Quote-Based

Key Features: 

  • Creative Notetaking Tools
  • Family Messaging
  • Activity Creation, Saving, and Sharing
  • Scheduled Activity Sharing
  • Multi-Page Posts

Seesaw is a collaborative education management application designed for teachers, students, and parents to connect. It is fitted with creative notetaking and collaboration tools for highly-visual learning. The platform also provides assessment and communication tools. In this way, stakeholders can be on the same page when it comes to learning progress.

Classtree

Classtree Dashboard

The eSignature feature from Classtree is useful for parent consent forms.

Platforms: Web, iOS, Android

Pricing: Quote-Based

Key Features:

  • Parent Consent Forms with Electronic Signature Support
  • Teacher-Parent Communication
  • Surveys
  • Attendance Tracking
  • Reporting and Analytics

Classtree, a product of Singapore-based company Bytters Pte Ltd., provides educators with a safe and easy way to stay in touch with parents. It is a standalone teacher-parent communication platform with a simple and intuitive interface. It supports media sharing, posts, comments, one-on-one chat, and electronic signatures for consent forms.

Notetaking and Creative Collaboration Tools

LiveBoard

LiveBoard Dashboard

A sample lesson generated by the LiveBoard platform.

Platforms: Web, iOS, Android

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Classroom – $5/month
  • Online Tutoring – $10/month
  • Online Tutoring Pro – $30/month
  • School – $99/month

Key Features:

  • Unlimited Boards and Groups
  • PDF Export
  • Guest Link Sharing
  • Audio Chat
  • Session Recording

LiveBoard offers an interactive whiteboard application with classroom features for teachers. Key features include interactive questions, multi-page shared boards, PDF and media embedding, and live collaboration tools. The platform also includes a live presence feature that allows teachers to see whether students are not engaged or away. Plus, LiveBoard integrates with other classroom tools like Google Meet and Zoom.

Explain Everything Whiteboard

Explain Everything Whiteboard

An example of a shapes construction project on Explain Everything Whiteboard.

Platforms: Web, iOS, Android

Pricing: 

  • Free
  • Educators – $3/user/month
  • Edu Group – $0.90/user/month for a minimum of 10 users

Key Features:

  • Collaboration and Voice Chat
  • Web Video Link Sharing
  • Shared Folders
  • Recording
  • Reporting

Explain Everything Whiteboard is an interactive and collaborative whiteboard app that can be accessed from any device. The platform has an intuitive interface that allows users to write texts, create shapes, and add media like audio and video. It is being used by educators to create highly-visual instructional materials for their students. It also comes with a built-in voice chat and industry-standard security features.

Educreations Whiteboard

Educreations Whiteboard

Educreations Whiteboard has a simple and intuitive user interface.

Platforms: WebiOS

Pricing: 

  • Basic – Free
  • Pro Classroom – $99/year
  • Pro School – $1495/year

Key Features:

  • Easy-to-use Whiteboard Module
  • Voice Recording
  • Instant Sharing
  • Storage and Replay
  • Self-Paced Learning

Educreations Whiteboard is an easy-to-use digital interactive whiteboarding solution. It provides users with creative tools that they can use for providing instruction. It is so simple that it can be used as an educational app for kids. Targeted at education professionals and institutions, it features collaboration features like sharing, cloud sync, and feedback mechanisms. The interface has an intuitive and clean design. However, it is only available for Apple devices.

Evernote

Evernote Dashboard

A sample dashboard for Evernote’s customizable templates.

Platforms: Web, Windows, iOS, Android 

Pricing:

  • Basic – Free
  • Plus – $3.99/month
  • Premium – $7.99/month
  • Business – $14.99/user/month

Key Features:

  • Rich Notes with Image Capture
  • Document Scanning
  • Web Clipper
  • Database and Handwriting Search
  • Comprehensive App Integrations

Evernote is a popular rich-text notetaking application. In addition to its simple yet powerful notetaking features, it offers collaborative tools. With the program, educators can share lessons, notes, and ideas with their peers and students. It also sports advanced features like a text search engine for PDFs and Office docs. It automatically syncs your data on multiple devices and allows for template customization.

Notability

Notability Dashboard

An example of sketched notes on Notability.

Platforms: macOS, iOS 

Pricing: 

  • iOS – $8.99
  • MacOS – $1.99

Key Features:

  • Easy-to-Use
  • Creative Tools
  • Highly-Responsive
  • PDF Annotation
  • Verbal and Written Comments

Notability is another notetaking platform that allows you to combine text, handwriting, and other media to create visual notes. It also has a PDF annotation feature and sharing options. It does this seamlessly through integrations with apps like Google Drive, DropBox, and AirDrop, among others. It also features a visual and audio comment module for better team collaboration.

Communication Solutions

Communication solutions have a prime place on the market today, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. The following list, however, is not restricted to video conferencing and chat applications. They include other apps with vital functions for disseminating and receiving information in a classroom setting.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom Dashboard

A sample of the Google Classroom classes dashboard for the web opened on MacOS.

Platforms: WebiOS, Android

Price: Free

Key Features:

  • Video Meeting
  • Class and Activities Management
  • Online Grading
  • Add Course Material
  • Question-Driven Discussions

One top application for communication in a classroom setting is Google Classroom. This highly-regarded application simplifies online teaching and learning with easy classroom management features. Moreover, its communication features include a module to communicate with parents and guardians directly. Furthermore, it is connected to Google Drive and its suite of tools so you would not worry about creating, editing, and sharing important documents and reports. Lastly, it integrates seamlessly with other educational apps.

Google Drive

Google Drive Dashboard

A sample dashboard of Google Drive.

Platforms: Web, iOS, Android, Chrome

Pricing:

  • 15GB – Free
  • 100GB – $89/month
  • 1TB – $479/month
  • 10TB – $4, 799

Key Features:

  • File Sync on Multiple Devices
  • Office and Productivity Suite
  • Comprehensive Integrations
  • Powerful Search
  • Offline Capability

Google Drive is an all-in-one storage and productivity platform that educators can use to send files, collaborate, make reports, and create presentations, among many other things. Basically, it is an online productivity application that is very similar to Microsoft Office. It comes with different modules, including Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Slides, and Keep. It works perfectly well with Google Classroom and is one of the most used application suites in the world.

Schoology

Schoology Dashboard

A sample course interface on Schoology.

Platforms: WebiOS, Android, Chrome

Pricing:

  • Students, Parents, Instructors, Advisors – Free
  • Enterprise – Quote-Based

Key Features: 

  • Curriculum Management
  • Custom Applications
  • Collaboration Tools
  • Resource Building and Sharing
  • Aligned with State and Common Core Standards

Schoology is a popular communication and collaboration platform for educators and schools. It allows teachers to create classroom resources and manage class activities. It is an all-in-one communication software, bringing stakeholders together, including parents and guardians. The software is also customizable, complete with branding controls.

Moodle

Moodle Dashboard

A screenshot of an interface in Moodle’s sandbox demo

Platforms: Web, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android

Price: Free and Open Source

Key Features:

  • Collaboration Tools
  • Create and Manage Class Activities
  • Classroom Management
  • Peer and Self Assessment
  • Outcomes and Rubrics

Moodle is another popular communication and collaboration solution created especially for educational institutions. It allows teachers to manage classroom activities like quizzes, projects, and assignments. It supports mass enrollment and has robust multimedia integrations. Being open-source, the platform is free and customizable to your needs.

Edmodo

Edmodo Dashboard

A sample dashboard in Edmodo’s web interface

Platform: Web, iOS, Android, Chrome

Pricing:

  • Personal – Free
  • Enterprise – Quote-Based: Implementation Fee and Per User

Key Features:

  • Manage Learning Goals
  • Build Communities
  • Personalize Apps
  • Student Progress Monitoring
  • Classroom Discussions and Polls

Edmodo is a top classroom and distance learning management platform. It allows users to create their own community networks and build and manage resources straight from the software. It works on all devices and has an intuitive web application interface that is easy-to-use. Edmodo is also rolling out new features supporting elearning and distance learning initiatives.

Slack

Slack Dashboard

A sample group chat progressing on Slack.

Platforms: Web, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Chrome, Linux

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Standard – $6.67
  • Plus – $12.50
  • Enterprise Grid – Quote-Based

Key Features:

  • Messaging
  • Video and Audio Conference
  • Conversation Channels
  • Private Groups
  • File Sharing and Collaboration

Slack is a top communication software used by many types of organizations around the world. The product is easy to use and is reminiscent of a chat platform yet with extended capabilities. It offers conversation channels to facilitate topic- or project-based discussions. Also, it is fitted with tools for setting status updates, mentions, and reactions.

Skype

Skype Dashboard

A sample Skype dashboard for managing contacts and messages.

Platforms: Web, Windows, Linux, macOS, Chrome, iOS, Android

Pricing: 

  • Free
  • International Calls – Prices Vary Based on Region and Country
  • Microsoft Teams Free (formerly Skype for Business Online) – Free
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard – $10/user/month billed annually
  • Office 365 E3 – $20/user/month billed annually

Key Features:

  • Instant Messaging
  • Video Chat and Conferencing
  • International Phone Calls
  • File Sharing and Group Screen Sharing
  • Send Texts

Skype is one of the most popular communication and collaboration applications to date. It has instant messaging, voice calls, and video conferencing features complete with file sharing and group screen sharing capabilities. The platform also allows for international calls. It is free for personal use. However, its business and enterprise plan has been replaced by premium Microsoft Team subscriptions.

Pairing Application Stacks and Using Additional Teaching Resources

There you have it. Listed above are the best educational apps for teachers, educational institutions, and school districts to supplement face-to-face instructions or, even fully manage distance learning with the list of the best apps for teachers to teach online included here. The applications listed are some of the most popular tools being used not only in educational institutions but in business enterprises as well. Also, many of them work well together through integrations. Thus, you can use them as a stack to extend each of their capabilities. Once you find the right mix of applications for you, you will be able to build a digital environment that you can use to manage your tasks and relationships within your network.

Furthermore, you can also improve your lesson deliveries by using additional digital teaching resources. You can embed media and materials from these on your notetaking tools or classroom management platforms to share with your peers and students. Here are a few of the best resource sites available:

  • TED  – a nonprofit organization known to share conference videos and talks concerning Technology, Entertainment, and Design that covers a wide range of issues from science to art. You can use this to share engaging videos with your students on a wide variety of topics.
  • EDx – a platform for online courses and learning, EDx offers free and paid courses from Harvard and MIT. Teachers, educators, and students can enroll in courses to expand their knowledge in a wide array of subject matters from engineering to Shakespeare.
  • WolframAlpha – a powerful computational knowledge engine, WolframAlpha is an online service that gives answers to factual queries. It uses a computational engine that provides answers from curated external data instead of providing a list of websites. Its AI program provides a range of resources like step-by-step solutions for math problems and tools for exploring languages, among many others.

With these tools and your educational applications stack, you will be able to create engaging course content for your students. Moreover, These platforms have lively user communities that offer support to members.  Hence, you will be able to gain new insights and learn from other experts in different fields. The adoption of new digital educational applications is a huge part of today’s elearning trends that can transform the face of education. So, for educators who want to provide quality and competitive educational services in the future, it is best to consider adopting digital tools.

 

References
  1. CNN (2020, December 3). Map: Where schools are reopening in the US. CNN.
  2. Cooke, S. (2020, July 8). More than one-third of parents not comfortable with a fall return to school. CivicScience.
  3. Education Week Staff (2020, December 10). Map: Where are schools closed? Education Week.
  4. Panigrahi, R., Srivastava, P. R., & Sharma, D. (2018). Online learning: Adoption, continuance, and learning outcome—A review of literature. International Journal of Information Management43, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2018.05.005
  5. Peele, H., Riser-Kositsky, M., & EW Staff (2020, December 7). Map: Coronavirus and school closures in 2019-2020. Education Week.

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