Learning something new under lockdown: the best educational apps

best educational apps for learning something new under lockdown

Written by Grant

Our recommendations for best educational apps for learning something new under lockdown

Have you thought about learning something new under lockdown?

Now that you’re stuck inside all day (apart from your daily singular government mandated exercise), have you found that you can’t stop staring at your phone? Can you feel your thumb muscles getting larger whilst your brain dwindles away?

Maybe you don’t have the energy to get off the sofa. That’s okay! Maybe that’s where you need to be right now and the rest is doing you some good.

However, if getting in some well needed rest isn’t the reason and you feel that you’ve slipped into a mindlessly scrolling comatose state, endlessly spiralling into a COVID-19 news story rabbithole – you need a distraction.

Try turning your phone into a force for good, download some educational apps and start learning something new under lockdown

Shake and Speare’s recommended educational apps for learning something new under lockdown:

  1. Duolingo
  2. Lumosity
  3. Word of the Day
  4. Grasshopper: Learn to Code
  5. Google Arts and Culture
  6. Khan Academy
  7. SkyView


Duolingo’s front man – a green owl with incredible linguistic aptitude – has been instrumental for years in teaching post-education adults the basics of 94 different languages (including Scottish Gaelic and Navajo). 

The joy of Duolingo is that its free courses are extensive enough for you to pick up a good understanding of your chosen language. The app encourages you to learn daily, trying for at least five minute bursts, to help really engrain the language in your head. If it looks like you aren’t going to complete a daily lesson, your phone’s notifications quickly fill with Duo gently prodding you. If you miss too many lessons, Duo will shoot you an email and tell you that you’ve upset him. Motivational stuff.


Lumosity is a brain training app that aims to help you challenge and improve your mind. Focusing on 7 brain training areas – including memory and attention – it asks you to train using its games daily, for ample reward: as compared to a control group, in a scientific study, participants training with Lumosity showed double the improvement in cognitive assessments.

Basically, this means if you can flick away from your Twitter feed and onto your Lumosity app for at least 15 minutes a day, you might find yourself rewarded with a beefed up brain.

Word of the Day

Here’s a super simple one. Learn one word a day. It’s certainly an achievable goal. And it may be good for your mental health: learning new words allows us to think further, breaking out from old, stale patterns of thought. With the amount of free time we have at the moment, utilising resources that help us manage trains of thought could be super helpful.

Grasshopper: Learn to Code

Having some small knowledge of coding is a skill that is always going to be handy to you. As is truly evident at the moment, our society relies on digital means. Therefore, Grasshopper’s offer to help you learn to code, wherever you are, is invaluable. The people behind Grasshopper are committed to keeping it free – free knowledge is an excellent thing and you should always take advantage of it.

Google Arts and Culture

You might be confined to the house, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go to a museum. Google and Culture is an online platform through which the public can visit images of artworks housed in the initiative’s 2000+ partner museums. The benefits of using this service are numerous: 1) You can escape the house and explore a whole host of artwork from the comfort of your bedroom, 2) You can come back from quarantine and pretend to be a highly cultured individual.

Khan Academy

If you happened to be scrolling through Facebook recently and took that one Buzzfeed test that asked you a load of GCSE questions, before enlightening you that you have well and truly forgotten anything you learned in your highschool education days, Khan Academy might be for you.

Offering free maths, science, computing and arts courses, if you felt the need to clean out the dusty corners of your brain and revisit some old knowledge, Khan Academy is worth checking out.


You’ve probably seen the news stories that there’s been a huge drop in air pollution. You might have noticed yourself that the night sky has been clearer than normal. But do you know what you’re looking up at? If you want to find out what the really bright star you can suddenly see is, or whether you’ve guessed the name of the constellation in front of you correctly, SkyView can help you. 

The app uses your camera to spot and identify celestial objects in the sky, day or night. Tonight, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, throw on a dressing gown and take your phone out into the garden to do a touch of stargazing.

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