8 Must Have Challenge-Based Learning Apps, Tools & Resources

In 2008, Apple designed an education model appropriate for the learners of tomorrow. Their goal was to replace pencils with iPads, worksheets with real-world problems, and grades with societal growth. After implementing challenge-based learning into classrooms across the United States, young minds have accomplished incredible feats.

With challenge-based learning, students locate community-based or nationwide problems – the overuse of plastic bottles, after-school traffic, local pollution – and work to provide original solutions.

The goal is for learners to work in group settings to brainstorm ideas, research logistics, conduct surveys, create a budget, analyze data, present their findings and share an original end product with fellow students.

Along the way, students are expected to use technology and embrace life as a 21st century screen-savvy citizen. If you’ve implemented challenge-based learning into your playground, high school humanities classroom or college seminar, we’ve provided a list of learning apps and digital resources your students should have at their fingertips.

1. Feedly: The first step of challenge-based learning is to locate a real-world problem. Feedly aggregates all of your preferred media outlets into one place so students can quickly sift through the latest headlines and digital trends. This means newspapers, magazines, blogs, YouTube channels, social media accounts and anything else that publishes original content and newsworthy articles. Feedly is connected to more than 40 million feeds allowing users to find content specific to any research-based need. Having information outlets and news alerts bundled together and organized by issue helps students fly through sources and find modern, real-world challenges to tackle.

2. Mindnote: After a challenge is selected, students must collaborate with others to begin brainstorming. Mindnote allows users to create mind maps as a visual representation of, not just key ideas, but tactics and strategies related to those thoughts. The app allows multiple people on one page so students can work together and explicitly connect mental dots. Mindnote also organizes maps by rearranging thoughts and enabling users to highlight key words. With everything in one place, students can see how everyone’s ideas are connected – an essential step in any collaborative process.

3. Instapaper: It’s easy for anyone beginning large projects to get lost in a sea of conflicting information, relevant articles, and usable quotes. Instapaper allows students to save and store articles for on-the-go reading that’s perfectly formatted with no ads and no mess. Users are able to conveniently sort saved content by popularity, date, and length even without internet access. Kids on-the-go meet research on-the-go.

4. Socrative: Often students need input from people outside of their own group to move projects along. Socrative allows students to distribute multiple ideas and quizzes via iPhone to collect class-wide results. This way project members can gather input about milestones and ideas mid-project. Halfway point evaluations help students fix errors or narrow ideas before it’s time for project management and final presentations. 

5. gTasks: One of the hardest parts of a challenge-based project is time management and organization, especially for students who haven’t practiced those skills in a project of this magnitude. gTasks remind students of deadlines they’ve set for themselves by syncing tasks with Google Tasks and integrating reminders into users’ Google Calendars. With apps like gTasks, there’s no excuse for late work or sloppy timelines. 

6.Roambi Analytics: Another aspect of a challenge-based project that’s probably new for young learners, is transforming information and data into spreadsheets. Roambi Analytics allows students to create spreadsheets on their iPhone and iPad without risking a slow-moving device that feels minutes from crashing. Once again, users don’t need internet access as the app transforms imported information into clear executive reports, charts, tables, and other analytic visuals.

7. Prezi: Prezi is a great tool for students who want to end the boring and repetitive PowerPoint cycle that so often accompanies class presentations. Prezi includes templates that make every presentation beautiful, customized, and original, even for students with no design background. Aside from aesthetic, Prezi smoothly incorporates video, audio, and other interactive research components for a presentation that keeps everyone’s attention.

8. Scribble Press: After everything is said and done, students need a way to share the work that they’ve done with others while reflecting on the experience as a whole. Accomplish both with Scribble Press, an app that allows students to write and illustrate their own books. With Scribble Press, students can retell the story of their challenge-based experience, include final project results, and reflect on moments of personal growth.

Done are the days of busy work and upon us are classrooms full of future presidents who’ve already begun working out ways to slow climate change, protect animals in danger of extinction and limit the spread of airborne disease.

If your district or university provides students with electronic resources, visit the app store and take advantage of everything challenge-based learning has to offer.


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