Mobile brain training might come to you as a strange idea and understandably so. 20 years ago a concept such as this would have been relegated to science fiction, but in today’s technological world this type of learning is not only a possibility, it is reality.
Technological advancements in the past few decades have been faster than at any other time in human history. While in the not too distant past it was unusual for a typical consumer to have a personal computer in his or her home, these days more and more people of all ages are routinely carrying devices capable of the computational power of yesteryear’s super computers.
While it is true that the emphasis in marketing this mobile technology is usually geared more towards entertainment and social engagement, the capability for mobile brain training through mobile devices such as smartphones or tablet computers is just as common. This kind of brain training exists in several forms, and because of the benefits of a mobile medium it offers an increase in opportunities for learning.
Types of Mobile Brain Training
Much of the functionality offered through mobile devices is accomplished through applications (or “apps”), and mobile brain training is no exception. These apps are specific to the operating system (OS) of the device, and the apps available to each device are specific to that OS, the most common in the consumer market today being Apple’s iOS on the iPhone and iPad and Google’s Android. In both iOS and Android, apps for mobile brain training can be categorized into several different types.
Mobile Brain Training Games
Games are one of the most common and most popular types of apps for mobile devices. You might be thinking to yourself, ”But, wait; can one really learn from games?” Many people think games, mobile or otherwise, are a waste of time or an escape from reality, lacking any kind of educational value. In response to this kind of thinking, educator and writer Marc Prensky argues that games of all kinds are useful for learning and has a very interesting article about it available on his website.
Despite the possible educational value from games in general, there are specific games available for iOS or Android that are purposefully designed for mobile brain training.
Some of these games are simulations of common games from the real world that are often used to exercise the mind and strengthen mental fortitude. Examples of these simulations are Sudoku games (e.g. “Sudoku Magic” on iOS, $1.99, or “Super Sudoku” on Android, free) and chess games (e.g. “Chess.com” available for free on iOS and Android). Memory games similar to “Concentration” are also quite popular (e.g. “Pairopix” on iOS, $0.99, or “Memory” for free on Android).
Other games for mobile brain training have been made specifically for mobile platforms and have no real-world counterpart. These games can range from amalgams of brain training activities such as math problems and verbal games (e.g. “Brain Toot” for free on iOS or “SPB Brain Evolution” for free on Android) to games that explore some more abstract realms, strengthening spatial logic (e.g. “Rain of Blocks” for free on Android).
Other Types of Mobile Brain Training Apps
Though games are a hot commodity in mobile markets, mobile brain training extends into other types of apps as well. Educational apps exist in many flavors and aim to be both entertaining and informative.
Apps for reading fall into this category of mobile brain training. The data giant Google has developed their “Google Reader” and “Google Books” apps for both Android and iOS, available for free on both systems, respectively allowing users to keep abreast of the news or purchase (for free or a small price) digital copies of books to read right from their device. Amazon also provides a mobile “Kindle App” for Android and iOS that works similarly to “Google Books.”
What if you get stumped on a word in one of these books or in one of your verbal mobile brain training apps? There is no need to worry. There are also many reference apps available. “Dictionary.com,” for example, will help you freely define words in iOS and Android. Would you like to learn how to say something in a foreign language? A brief search through either the Appstore or the Android Market will turn up hundreds of foreign language dictionaries.
Apps developed for particular schools have also been developed to aid users in learning. For years many institutions for higher-level learning have used Blackboard’s online services to help manage courses, homework assignments and grading. Students are now able to download the “Blackboard” app and check important school-related information right from their phones. Some establishments, such as Woldingham School, are having apps developed specifically for their teachers, parents and pupils to share important information and assist in common school-related tasks.
Benefits of Mobile Brain Training
As the term implies, the main benefit of mobile brain training is that it is mobile. Technology has freed learning from particular physical locations such as libraries or classrooms. Learners can take their brain training with them wherever they can take a cell phone.
As a mobile medium, mobile brain training apps have the potential to increase productivity and redeem time that might otherwise be considered wasted. While moments of down time can have benefits of their own, it can often be frustrating or boring to wait in lines, wait for public transportation or to be in myriad other situations. In times like these, it is easy to keep one’s mind active and alert with mobile brain training apps.
Mobile brain training apps can also be quite cost-effective. The most expensive app listed in this article is $1.99, and most of the apps listed here are free. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of other similarly priced apps available for both iOS and Android that can assist in mobile brain training. Though the device itself can be quite expensive, if you already have a smartphone or tablet computer, the cost of these apps should pose no financial barrier.
Get Started with Mobile Brain Training
Whether you are a senior citizen or a senior in high school, technology exists today that can help you develop and strengthen your brain. From learning games to utilities for learning, increased learning opportunities on your smartphone or tablet computer are just a few clicks away.
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Stephen Lee is the main administrator of the technology and gaming blog Tech Adventures with SLee and Topher, and is the co-founder and COO of Ford & Lee Interwebs, LLC. He loves all kinds of technology and loves writing about it. He also loves his wife, his beagle, and Mobile Brain Training.