Lindsey Wright from the Online Schools people put together a nice list of mobile apps useful to social studies teachers and asked to post them here. Let me know what you think.

Smartphones and tablets have become some of the greatest tools for social studies and history classrooms. Programs or apps available for these devices are useful for more than killing time or listening to streaming music. They are advanced programs allowing individuals to carry out research, write dissertations, share information with users from around the world, and everything in between. Here are a few of the top mobile apps for social studies, history, economics, political science, and more.

1. EZ Read ($1.99)

Sparknotes has long been the saving grace of procrastinating students. This company produces comprehensive study guides for literature, specific historical periods, and major international events. They have now also gone completely mobile. This app provides plot analyses, character descriptions, maps, and key facts and figures for thousands of pieces of literature.

2. iAmerica (Free)

For those students considering a course of study with a focus on the United States, iAmerica is going to be one of the most valuable apps on their smartphones. This completely free app accesses a huge volume of basic information regarding the history of the United States, and features a list and brief biography of each president  identical to the one found on the White House’s website. The app also includes state flags, major historical points, and even a quiz tool.

3. gFlash+ Flashcards & Tests (Free)

A major component of school is learning to organize information as concisely as possible with the ability to wade through frivolous information and only keep what is necessary. Traditionally, this meant pages of notes, piles of flashcards, and textbooks full of annotations. Yet with the gFlash app, customized tests and study cards can be made for any subject. Best of all, these study guides can be quickly transferred between friends with the same app.

4. World Mobile News (Free)

Being a social studies major means keeping up with international news, politics, and other ground-breaking stories. With World Mobile News, the entire BBC international news section can be quickly accessed, even with limited connectivity to a mobile or Wi-Fi network. Students can also save important articles for reference later on, set alerts, and even skim through a daily news slideshow.

5. iCloud (Free Beta/Subscription Rates in Future)

News sources around the world have declared that Apple’s Cloud storage system is going to change the world, and this includes academia. This app allows for individuals to store, access, and edit data of all types on centralized servers. With this system, students could record guest speakers with their phone, send the file to their computer to study later, or even review it on their tablet on the commute home. This Cloud-based storage infrastructure is arguably the biggest change to the nature of the information age in recent years.

6. Ancient History ($4.99)

While the information in this app is not comprehensive, it covers a wide variety of subjects throughout ancient history. It also includes a streamlined flash card feature which can be used to brush up on major facts and figures. This is the perfect program to quickly review the major characters and trends throughout history.

7. Class Buddy Pro ($1.49)

Class Buddy Pro is another quality app from the Droid Market. This is a single-stop program that can organize every aspect of a student’s academic life. Profiles can be set up for classes which include the names, numbers, and e-mail addresses for students and professors. It also features an alarm to get to class on time and an assignment check list. With a single tap of the screen, students can e-mail their teachers or ask classmates what they have missed in class.

8. Droidscan Pro ($4.99)

All history and social study students are sure to be spending countless hours in the library, but Droidscan can shorten this time considerably. The New York Times has recently reported on effective study habits after lengthy research done by Robert A. Bjork of UCLA, which has shown an increased retention of information when students merely step outside of the library and study in new locations and at new times. Droidscan allows students to create clear PDF documents directly from their smartphone camera and take them anywhere.

9. Quickpedia (Free)

Sometimes it is necessary to have a quick reference to subject matter without pulling out a laptop or skimming through a dictionary. Quickpedia allows social studies students to quickly and easily read through basic information on subjects ranging from ancient history to modern day political institutions. Both iTunes and Droid versions.

10. History: Maps of the World (Free)

Social studies students are going to be quite familiar with maps by the end of their schooling. However, this app offers an alternative to textbook references and bulky atlases. It features hundreds of fully illustrated maps which can be searched by location or even the era in which they were made. Updates can be downloaded for specific countries and continents as well.

Since the advent of the cell phone, teachers and professors have been waging war to keep phones out of the hands of students during class time. However, this is all changing with the release of powerful academic tools which can be used exclusively on smartphones. These are just a few of the top apps that are beginning to transform the way social studies students read, write, study, and live.

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