In this article, we tell you how to create an educational app for kids and adults, what trends there are in the educational app industry, and how to make money by providing e-learning.
Self-education is one of those rare trends that’s not just fashionable but useful. With the evolution of technology, education has stopped being limited to kids and young adults. Today, even the busiest of us can learn new skills, expand our expertise, and even get degrees without having to visit a campus.
- What are educational apps?
- Educational apps for learners
- Educational apps for teachers
- Features to include in your educational app
- Educational apps Gamification
- How to monetize an educational app
- How much does it cost to develop an educational app?
What are educational apps?
Simply enough, educational mobile apps are apps that help people learn. You can learn all kinds of things on the go using your smartphone or tablet: learn a new language, how to drive, or how to code; study engineering; or get caught up on your school curriculum. Nowadays, educational apps are even used in schools and universities to aid instructors.
There are several parameters by which one can categorize educational apps: for example, by target audience:
There will be differences in features between apps for learners and teachers. And apps under both of these categories can be categorized further. Let’s go over the most widespread types of educational apps.
Educational apps for learners
- Apps to learn specific subjects
Otherwise called niche market education apps. They’re created to teach users a single subject at a time. Duolingo and Memrise are language learning apps. There are apps that offer driving lessons, teach you to write code, and help you master a single musical instrument. This category probably accounts for the largest chunk of educational apps out there.
Apps for kids to facilitate their development
Nowadays, kids get ahold of tablets rather early. Hence, some skills previous generations learned with the help of adults can now be entrusted to mobile apps. Educational apps for kids are simple, colorful, and built with an emphasis on gamification.
- Apps that offer supplemental and reference materials
These apps could provide a dictionary or an encyclopedia, a catalog of documents, or audio or video lessons on a specific topic or on a broad selection of topics. Basically, these apps are digital libraries.
- Apps for online courses
Services like Coursera, Udemy, Udacity, edX, and LinkedIn’s Lynda offer online courses with a full set of features a classroom course would provide — lectures by renowned specialists, graded homework assignments, feedback on your work, and certificates of completion. The difference is that students choose what, when, and where to learn.
- Apps aimed at exam preparation
Exam preparation apps are focused on a specific exam. A standard math learning app will be different from an app that helps learners prepare for the SAT. An English for foreigners app won’t be the same as an app to help users pass the TOEFL or IELTS exams (qualification exams for non-native English speakers to be admitted into an English-language university program).
- Class aid apps
Strictly speaking, these are often systems consisting of two different apps — one for students and one for teachers. These apps help students with their coursework and help teachers with evaluation. Apps for online courses can sometimes be considered class aid apps as well.
Educational apps for teachers
Educational apps for teachers aren’t as varied and widespread as apps for students, but they usually offer everything a teacher might need in a single app: tools for planning, scheduling, grading, generating charts and analytics. However, it’s not unusual to find separate apps for each task in case a teacher doesn’t need all of these features.
Features to include in your educational app
The features you’ll want to include will differ depending on the kind of app you’re building — whether for learning or teaching. However, some features are must-haves in any education app.
Login/Signup. Logging in and signing up automatically with your Google (or other email) account will be a huge perk for any user since it significantly shortens the signup process compared to typing in an email or phone number and personal details. Learners will also appreciate an option to sign up with a social network. Facebook is the most common option, but the more options you add, the better: consider Twitter, LinkedIn, and others.
User profile. In the user profile, students can check their progress, navigate the software, and make adjustments to their schedules. A user profile can let teachers set their schedules, upload materials, and see analytics and statistics about students to better accommodate their needs.
Learning materials. Materials must come from a reputable source and/or be proven scientifically. Depending on the subject, learning materials can benefit from categorization: by topic, complexity, time necessary to complete a lesson, etc. Also, learning materials come in different types, so dividing them by type will also come in handy:
- theory (grammar for language learners, the traffic code for those learning to drive, etc.)
- interactive text exercises
- video/audio lessons
- live streaming lectures
Search functionality. Students should be able to find sections they need and come back to completed lessons. Teachers need to be able to make adjustments to the programs they teach. The longer the course, the more important it is that your mobile application has solid search functionality — to let users effortlessly find the parts they need.
Push notifications. Reasons might vary — from laziness to work tasks piling up — but it’s not unusual for students to skip on studying. Push notifications bring users back faster than emails. For teachers, push notifications are even more valuable: missing a lesson as an instructor can be a huge blow to one’s reputation. You can also use push notifications for promotion and to ask users to rate your app in the app store.
Statistics and analytics. Both students and teachers benefit from seeing statistics. The ability to identify blind spots in knowledge helps instructors adjust the program and eliminate issues.
Cloud integration and cross-platform support. It’s common for both learners and teachers to use several devices. Schools might provide devices of their own, and app users can have their own personal devices. Some students prefer learning with a tablet; others only have a smartphone. Some might use a smartphone on the go and a tablet at home. It’s important that progress is synced via the cloud and that the app can be opened on as many devices as possible.
Some features will be especially appreciated by students. For example, integration with social networks is handy for learners; sharing progress with friends boosts confidence. And by implementing one-click sharing, for example, you enhance your app’s chances of gaining new users among your existing users’ friends.
The same goes for all kinds of “top performers” lists. A little competition pushes people to learn faster, do more, and come back more often. But here, the situation is a little trickier — too much pressure and too many forceful reminders that there’s someone out there who performs better can be a blow to a learner’s morale. This will make some people abandon your app.
Scheduling is an absolute must for teachers’ apps and for students’ apps that offer live streams of lectures or real-time communication with teachers and other students. However, a selling point of the majority of self-learning apps is that users can study when it’s convenient for them, so it’s not always a must-have feature in our opinion.
What to consider when developing educational apps
If you’re planning to create an educational app for kids, you’ve likely considered adding a gaming element. But gamification is just as suitable for apps targeted at adults. The “gaming is for kids” idea was debunked years ago. Gaming elements help learners stay focused and interested, whatever their age.
Gamification can take different shapes:
- Achievements and tokens that show learners’ progress
- A story that users explore as they go up the learning ladder
- Learning materials offered with cartoons or funny video clips
Or you can come up with a completely new element when you start to create an educational game app. Brainstorming during the idea validation stage might help you find a unique feature with gaming elements.
Learning is universal, and the majority of educational apps can be used all over the world. That’s why it’s worth investing in quality localization when developing an educational app.
Visuals and sound
Most education app developers agree that apps for learners should use bright colors and images. Our brains are built in such a way that connecting material with visual content helps us memorize things better.
Quality sound is a must for language learning apps. For these apps, audio should be recorded by native speakers, preferably with a variety of local accents (check out Memrise as an example). For other types of learning apps, it depends on the educational content; but most subjects benefit from audio.
Virtual and augmented reality
Both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are expensive features to implement, so it’s reasonable to take a moment to consider if doing so is justified for your app. However, VR and AR are hot topics today and can add an edge to your app, making it stand out on the app store.
Read also: 6 Best Augmented Reality Frameworks
How to monetize an educational app
The most typical monetization model for educational apps is freemium — you offer your users an abridged version and suggest they buy the full version if they like it. However, even the free version should be fully functional.
Let’s once again take Memrise as an example: The free version has all the same lessons as the paid one, but if you pay the subscription fee you’ll get access to such extras as automated pronunciation checking and a grammar bot. These aren’t features every learner acutely needs, especially if they use the app as a support rather than a main source of materials, but they make good practice features nonetheless.
Offering a free trial is another common monetization model among educational app developers. The popular brain training app Elevate uses this model. With a free trial, you give users full access to all app features for a limited time and ask them to pay if they’d like to continue. Two weeks is usually enough to get acquainted with an app but not enough to get tired of it.
Ads as a monetization model should be used with caution in an educational app. Interrupting a lesson with an ad disrupts the user’s focus and is seen as a big drawback. If you decide to go for ads, your educational app development company might have strategy suggestions based on market research.
Finally, there’s the paid download monetization model. This is a valid option for education service providers with an established business that already has clients. Schools, universities, and owners of all kinds of courses can hire educational app developers to expand their reach and facilitate their students’ learning experience.
How much does it cost to develop an educational app?
With learning app development, a lot of things need to be considered when estimating the cost of an app. For example, will your app need to support audio playback? Few apps require audio integration as much as apps for studying. Additionally, for education apps it’s highly recommended to build both for Android and iOS right away since even in a single classroom there are usually students with both types of devices.
Find out more about: Why are requirements important?.
The core development team for an educational app development process will look something like this:
- Project manager: 1
- UI/UX designer: 1
- iOS developers: 1–2
- Android developers: 1–2
- QA specialist: 1
- Sound designer: 1
Localization will add another layer to the cost to make an educational app. So will VR or AR integration if you decide to go for it. If you’re making a language learning app, you’ll also need to hire native speakers to record words and sentences. There are many extras for different types of learning apps. But if we consider developing the core app, educational app development services will cost you about $48,000 and up.
Education is an important part of every person’s life. Some experts claim — with scientific proof, at that — that self-education with mobile apps will someday replace most, if not all, classroom courses and institutions. Whether this future is close or not we don’t know, but we do know that education is already a profitable niche in today’s mobile market. If you have questions about how to create an educational app or would like an estimate for your own learning app, hit us up on our contact page.