The 9 best apps for educators and teachers


Ty Collins

Ty Collins
Jul 15, 2020

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Technology is a bigger part of our classrooms than ever before, and it doesn’t look like that will be changing anytime soon. Virtual solutions and time management tools will continue to be in high demand for the foreseeable future.

Teaching at a distance, especially for those who’ve never done it before, is a challenge. Luckily there are tools teachers can use to help make their jobs a little easier.

9 great apps for virtual classrooms

As most schools in the U.S. stay on an online learning model for the foreseeable future, teachers and students alike are going to need all the help they can get to ensure they get the most from the experience. These are some of the tools you can use to help do that.

1. Google Drive

Most of us are already familiar with this one. Google Drive helps everyone from business people to teachers and students store and transfer their important files. Drive’s cloud-based system lets users work on written documents, spreadsheets and more from any internet-connected device. 

The collaborative nature of Google Docs lets students submit their work entirely online, where their instructor can edit and leave notes in the document as needed. You can upload supplementary images, create spreadsheets or put a Powerpoint-style set of lecture notes together in Google Slides.

If students need to download a file to use in their work — such as a video file for a multimedia editing course — just store it in Drive in a shared folder your students can access. It’s that simple. 

You can also schedule video lectures as Google Calendar events, so everyone gets a reminder. Add important due dates and the course syllabus to a group folder so the class has everything they need for tests and homework assignments. 

Good for: Educators that need a solid file creation and sharing solution

Cost: Free

Availability: iOS and Android

2. Calendly

Primarily a scheduling tool, Calendly can help teachers keep track of multiple calendars at once. You can use it as a shared calendar app for iPhone and Android since it works with both Google and Apple calendar apps. That can be especially helpful if you teach classes at multiple institutions or teach multiple subjects. 

Parent-teacher communication doesn't have to come at a premium. Calendly lets you choose your own time slot according to your availability, so you can program in a time frame for Q-and-A sessions with students, one-on-one discussions about a semester project or remote meetings with parents. Since you set your availability beforehand, you never double-book.

Educators and students can also use Calendly to set up and participate in office hours or career advising appointments. Universities that won’t be opening for the Fall semester can take their candidate interviews online, connecting with applicants wherever they are.  

Good for: Educators bogged down with scheduling admin tasks

Price: Free plan available, with paid plans starting at $12/month

Availability: Desktop, iOS, and Android

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3. Remind

An app created specifically for students and parents, Remind sends out — you guessed it — timely reminders for big projects and events. 

Teachers can use Remind to send out big class announcements, make sure everyone’s on track to submit their projects or remind their class when the next test will be. It even has a group chat feature you can use to reach out to students individually if you notice them having trouble, or if they just have questions. 

Another useful feature: you can track stats and read receipts to see who got the message you sent out. Remind’s dashboard shows you how many people got your message, how many read it and whether there were any errors.

Good for: Educators with lots of deadlines

Price: Free

Availability: iOS and Android

4. Additio

Additio takes classroom and team management digital. Use this app to take notes on participation and attendance, calculate grades and keep track of student performance. 

The app has a lesson planning feature to map out the semester or quarter and rubrics you can use for assessments. Additio also integrates with Google and Microsoft’s classroom features for easy importing of grades. 

Like most of the other apps on this list, Additio has a messaging feature you can use to stay in touch with both students and parents. The app’s developers make a point of stating that Additio is compliant with FERPA and GDPR privacy rules, and that they do their best to keep sensitive information secure. 

Good for: Educators that want to digitize their classroom management system

Price: Free with paid in-app upgrades available

Availability: iOS

5. Haiku Deck

Haiku Deck lets users make beautiful presentations easily. The app’s streamlined interface gets rid of the clutter surrounding your average slideshow presentation, creating a more professional look. 

Haiku Deck gives you an assortment of creative commons images and pre-built templates to choose from so you can put together your next lecture in a snap. Presentations are optimized across platforms and work on a smartphone, tablet or laptop. 

Students can use the app as well, so they can create something more interesting for their next project than slides full of text blocks. 

Good for: Educators that want to spice up their presentations

Price: Free to try, $9.99/month billed annually or $19.99 billed monthly for Pro, $29.99/month for Premium

Availability: iOS

6. The TED app

TED’s motto is “ideas worth spreading,” and chances are you’ll find plenty of knowledge to share with your students on their app. From politics to philosophy, TED has cataloged thousands of hours of talks and presentations from some of the world’s most interesting people. 

Volunteer-hosted TED Circles let a small group of people watch a particular TED talk, then discuss it amongst themselves. Form a circle with your class or have your students form their own to dive deeper into important and controversial topics. 

There are over 3,000 talks currently uploaded to the app. Users can watch talks or listen to them like a podcast. Users can even download them for later offline use. TED also lets you share your favorite talks and sync them across multiple devices.

Good for: Educators that want to expose their students to a broader range of topics

Price: Free (contains ads)

Availability: iOS and Android

7. Slack

Slack made a name for itself as a reliable workplace messenger long before COVID hit, and it lends itself well to today’s digital classroom. 

Users can create Slack channels for different classes where your students can discuss their projects, assignments and topics. Features like polling are useful for quickly getting an opinion from your students. 

You can block out virtual office hours for yourself, establishing a set time for students to reach you. Hold voice or video calls with your class and easily send and receive files. Slack can also integrate with other apps like Google Drive to provide expanded sharing capabilities.

Good for: Educators who need to set up dedicated communication channels

Price: Free

Availability: iOS and Android

8. Animoto

If you want to take classroom presentations a little further than a static slideshow, Animoto lets you easily make interesting video-based presentations. 

You can choose from pre-made templates that let you drag and drop images, videos or both. Animoto also has a licensed music library and a library of stock images to choose from if you’re running low on multimedia content. 

Use Animoto to make video content for YouTube, Instagram or Facebook. Cloud-based storage lets you access and edit your videos from a laptop or mobile device. Marketed as a tool for making engaging Instagram stories, you can use it in your own way to make unique videos with the tools you have available. 

Good for: Educators who want to use multimedia social content in the classroom

Price: Free (Animoto watermark on videos), $33/month for Professional and $49/month for Team

Availability: iOS and Android

9. Explain Everything

Explain Everything is sort of like an infinite virtual whiteboard for your online classroom. 

Specifically marketed as a tool for remote teams and online learning, Explain Everything gives you a blank canvas to work with and lets you do everything from write on it to drop in animations to explain your latest lesson. 

You can switch from one-on-one to group collaboration, depending on the context. Record videos of your lessons for students who learn better visually, and let them record their own to send back. Explain Everything also lets you create feedback loops for the class to respond to every so often so students don’t get distracted. 

Good for: Educators who want a more interactive approach

Price: Limited free plan, $3/user/month for Educators, $0.90/user/month for Educator Groups (starts at ten users)

Availability: iOS and Android

Take them for a test run

We’re all changing things up right now, and teaching techniques are no exception. Try these apps out in your virtual classroom, and see which ones best fit your needs. Which ones do your students like the most? 

You might choose to adopt one or use a group of them to make online learning more engaging. Who knows, you may even find yourself using these apps long after we’ve returned to in-person teaching! 

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Ty Collins

Ty Collins

Ty is a digital marketing leader, content management expert, and Calendly alum.

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