# Austin Scholar #18: Do Educational Apps Really Work?

**Hey, y'all!**

As someone who has used exclusively online educational apps to learn since elementary school, I get asked quite often about what apps I use. I’ve tried everything from Dreambox to Khan Academy to Knewton Alta, and I can honestly say that I learn better and faster from apps than I do in a classroom. Seriously – I haven’t had a teacher since the fourth grade.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

This week from Austin Scholar...

Austin’s Anecdote: How I used educational apps to ace my math exams

Do educational apps really work?

Scholar’s Sources: The apps I used to learn Algebra II

This past week at school was Spirit Week, so I put more effort into my outfits last week than the rest of the school year combined. I got to channel my inner Disney Channel star on Y2K Thursday and reverted back to my angsty middle school self with Emo-nday.

And the drama with the school’s literary magazine reminded me of how *exhausting *people are. No, the solution to fixing our incredibly unproductive meetings is not to just have *more meetings*.

To top the week off, it was essentially finals week at Alpha, so there was a lot of stress.

I love high school.

### Austin’s Anecdote: How I Used Educational Apps To Ace My Math Exams

Sometimes, when I'm working through an app, I can't help but wonder if I'm actually learning anything.

Sure, the apps have their own tests and such, but am I just memorizing the content? Apps such as Khan Academy (Austin Scholar #13: The Pros and Cons of Khan Academy) are super easy to game and click your way through (AKA – cheat).

See, I know that I can get a good grade on a quiz in an app, but how would I do on a standardized test?

I was so afraid of not actually knowing the stuff I learned in apps that I procrastinated taking my end-of-year tests in math (at Alpha we use Texas Credit by Examination (CBE) tests).

It wasn’t “let me just wait a week to make sure that I’m prepared for the test.” It was, like,* two years *of procrastination.

Basically, near the end of my sophomore year, I still hadn’t taken the final exam for any of my high school math classes.

The procrastination caught up with me (unfortunately), and last week, I had to take the CBEs for both Algebra II and PreCalculus.

I was *super *nervous.

Sure, I took BC Calculus this year – but Algebra? I haven't thought about Algebra since 8th grade.

In the week leading up to the exam, I went through all of the IXL topics, watched all of the Khan Academy videos, and reminded myself how to do linear regression on my calculator.

Seriously, it would be *extraordinarily* embarrassing for me if I did poorly on these exams. I mean, I have a newsletter and everything!

I was really praying that I would do well on these tests.

In my eyes, this was a pretty big test – both for my grades and for the question: *do apps really work?*

It makes sense that using educational apps in lower school works – the concepts are a lot simpler and less nuanced. But high school math – with all of its stupidly specific questions and formulas? Can that be taught without a teacher?

I'm happy to report: Yes, it can.

It has been over six years since I have had a teacher – since I have sat in a classroom and listened to a lecture on polynomial division.

On my PreCalculus CBE, I got a 96%.

On my Algebra II CBE, I got a **100%**.

It turns out that I do, actually, know math. Yay!

I learned math from Knewton and ALEKS. I put the time in, and I was able to prove that online, educational apps *can* teach high schoolers math.

### Do Educational Apps Really Work?

The question *Do educational apps really work?* can be broken down into two parts: *Do these apps work for *every *kid? *and *Can someone use *exclusively* online apps to learn high school courses?*

The crux of the first question comes down to one factor: ownership.

Let me explain.