Smartphones today have become full-fledged guides to the world of knowledge. And we are not talking about the Internet and access to an unlimited supply of facts and dates; we mean educational apps that consistently occupy the top lines in the lists of popular AppStore and Google Play applications.
In this article, you will learn about the main trends in the field of educational applications, their major types, and features that are necessary for each self-respecting product. In the second part of the post, we will take a look at how to make an educational app, determine its potential cost, and consider the choice of monetization. In the end, you will find out some useful tips which can help you through the whole development of your project.
The main trends in educational apps
Before creating your application, the study of popular trends will be the right approach for you. It will make your product more interesting and relevant for the end-user.
- Virtual Reality (VR)
- Augmented Reality (AR)
The opportunities provided by VR allow interacting remotely in three-dimensional space and developing a wide variety of skills, from drawing to rhetoric. The advantage of VR will find use in any educational app: both in Quiver children’s coloring and InMind, which makes it possible to experience the journey into the brains with a mental disorder.
These opportunities create a complete immersion in the learning process and disperse its boredom. Thanks to the use of VR technologies, you will attract great interest not only from the target audience of educational apps lovers but also from tech-savvy fans and gamers. The flip side of the coin is development difficulties and the high cost of VR applications.
AR adds to educational apps amazing content visualization capabilities, enhancing the real-life experience of using the product. Just like its technological fellow VR, AR finds fertile ground for integration in all types of educational apps: Star Walk for exploring celestial objects, or a realistic product for exploring the human body Anatomy 4D.
AR is a fairly new and complex technology, so for its integration, you will need highly qualified specialists. However, rewards in the form of increased public interest and advanced features are worth it.
This trend directly follows from VR and AR, but it distinguishes favorably with the fact that you can achieve gamification without the introduction of such expensive technologies. One of the most common issues of educational apps is the low level of interest and motivation for users. Gamification avoids this by adding excitement to non-game elements of the application. It can be both competitive and entertaining.
Bright representatives of educational apps with gamification are:
- Duolingo — each language lesson has a game element (hearts of life, scores, a timer);
- Yousician — the user selects the instrument and song, and the program gives instant feedback evaluating the performance;;
- Sololearn — the user learns the code and, at the same time, gains XP (Experience points), competes with other people in coding, and tracks his/her progress on the global leaderboard.
Gamification gives you the opportunity to maintain a high level of interest in your educational app at an affordable cost.
The development of AI in recent years has allowed the use of Advanced Intelligent Virtual Assistant in many areas, including educational app development. Here the IVA takes over the briefing, management, and overall improvement of the learning process in the application.
Boost of AI has created smart algorithms that evaluate the user’s abilities and rebuild the style, complexity, and content for them. In other words, introducing AI into your educational app will help you achieve adaptive learning. As a result, both your users and you will benefit from it because the quality of the product will go to a new level. Also, with AI implementation, you will save on scientific experts because machine learning algorithms will independently determine the necessary complexity of the material for each particular case.
The significance of understanding trends is undeniable, but it is even more important to consider all the aspects of the application type you are developing as this is a matter of strategic importance.
Types of educational apps
Your target audience and promotion methods will depend on the selected type of educational app. Let’s look at the main types on the market and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
- Educational apps for kids
- Classroom apps
- Test preparation apps
- Online courses
- Language learning apps
- Brain training apps
Children are drawn to modern devices, and parents, who care about the development of their child from an early age, are trying to reap benefits from their hobby. These can be the most diverse applications — for learning reading, writing, science, or developing talents. Any idea can shoot, you just need to adhere to the principles of visual appeal and casualness — children should like the appearance of the product and not get scared away by complexity.
Applications for students and teachers can be of two types. The first of them is used during lessons and serves teachers as tutorial material and helps organize the learning process and instruction. The second type is a cloud-based application and is used for remote learning. It centralizes all teaching materials in one place and has options for communication between teacher and parent, control of behavior and knowledge.
Targeted primarily at students and pupils, this type of educational apps offers up-to-date curriculum training tests for admission, quizzes, or exams. Despite the limited audience of students, test preparation apps are always relevant: every year, millions of students go to universities and look for all possible tools that will help them. Test prep apps are some of the best means for this. Remember that you will have to constantly keep abreast of educational programs and update the content to their current state.
This type is aimed at adults who are looking for new knowledge, but they do not have the time or opportunity to attend courses. In online course apps, training programs are given in an interactive form, with an abundance of multimedia material. One of the main decisions for you is the question of the original content: whether it will be authorship or materials from famous universities.
Learning a language is arguably the most popular type of educational app use. Having become popular in recent years, it has gained new facets in a mobile presentation.
All language learning apps are similar in delivering learning material while playing. If you develop an educational app for language learning, take into account the level of users’ knowledge, structure the material from simple to complex, and enter a variety of modes. In order to stand out from the crowd of competitors, we recommend that you inventively apply technologies like progress tracking and in-app chat, as well as develop your own unique methodology.
Being the closest type to the game applications from the list, it is essentially a set of mini-games for logic, memory, and attention. The learning element is enhanced by detailed and colorful infographics about the abilities of the users and their development progress. They are lightweight and suitable for any audience, but you must be ready to face the hordes of competitors.
Now that you’ve become familiar with the types and trends of educational apps, it’s worthwhile to dwell on the most necessary features for your mobile educational product.
Educational app features
Speaking of educational apps features, we cannot fail to mention the fact they have many specific features relevant only for this type of application. Here, we will consider exactly such features without which the education app would not be its true self.
|Learning material||The main element of the educational app can be divided into interactive exercises and audio/video content with rules, explanations, and tasks. It is uploaded on the admin site and then appears in the mobile app. The material must have a reputable source or author who has created it.;|
|Lesson categorization||Learning material will benefit from thoughtful categorization. You can catalog it depending on the topic, complexity, or the level of knowledge of the user.|
|System of scheduling||Healthy learning requires proper organization. With it, the user will be able to approach the learning process in your app systematically. The division into logical blocks will allow assimilating the material better.|
|Statistics of learning progress||Visually observing the learning process gives pleasant emotions and motivates stronger. A user should be enabled to enter the infographic after passing the lesson/task, where the progress or regression is shown in percentage terms. Awards celebration of the most successful results can be another pleasant point for the learner.|
|Success assessment||Education app’s feature that is most difficult to implement. Success assessment is responsible for analyzing the user’s level of knowledge and controlling its growth or regression. It can be approached from several sides: go deeper into the introduction of Machine Learning, create a decision-making system, or settle for simple algorithms.|
How to build an educational app?
Creating an educational app is not too drastically different from creating other applications. Let’s follow a step by step guide that ensures you will get your app in time according to high standards of the development:
- When you have formulated the mere concept, contact a vendor and pay attention to conducting the Statement of Work (SoW), which includes technical documentation and a certain set of features. Designers make wireframes or complete mockups that visually outline your app’s interface, or you provide it yourself. It is crucial for gaining a shared understanding of project development and avoiding problems later.
- The development team read the SoW and make an estimate for you. The requirements are divided into development stages, the hours are determined and summarized for the highest convenience for both sides.
- Representatives of the vendor come to an agreement with the customer on the time frames to map out the project’s progress. After the approval, the development team defines the app architecture and technology stack. A database solution is also selected: it can be standard or third-party. When choosing the DB, keep in mind that native SQLite seems less problematic, while third-party Realm is much faster.
- At this stage, the mobile team creates an application core, forms general functionality, and integrates the database and UI. Then the overall application logic is written, while the other team can simultaneously make a backend to accelerate development.
- In the final part of the development, various tests (unit, integration, UI) are written to check the app and reduce the risk of errors.
- After successful unit testing, the application is given to the QA department and the stage of bug fixing begins. You get acquainted with the app, and according to the feedback, developers will make corrections until the application meets all your requirements.
Between the first two stages, questions and clarifications on SoW from developers may arise. It is a natural process of clarifying any controversial points, so be prepared for it — if the vendor’s representatives ask a lot of questions, it’s a sign of their full engagement in the project.
When your developers create an educational app, they render learning material. Adding certain content, for example, tests, is more complex than others. We have learned this from our own experience with the InContact case, where we integrated tests to evaluate the reaction of young people to the celebrations by the municipality.
For greater convenience and speed of the development process, several people can work on different parts of the project, and then combine them into a single code.
Development tips and tricks
With an understanding of development flow, let’s dwell on the technical specifics of the application creation. A big advantage of developing an educational app over other types is that they have no dependency on device hardware. If geolocation or video chat apps need to set up a GPS navigator and a camera with a microphone, then educational one can completely do without interacting with the internal device, which saves time for development.
Native development implies a complete difference between iOS and Android platforms because the implementation takes place on different infrastructures. It will overlap only when the code is placed in ReactiveX with libraries for both iOS (RxSwift) and Android (RxJava).
We have presented the tech stack of each platform separately so that it shows what technologies you need to apply and which specialists to look for.
If you want to create an educational app for Android, you should use the following technologies:
As long as you aim to make an educational app for the iPhone or iPad, take a look at these necessary technologies:
Differences in iOS and Android education application development are constrained directly by the platform’s limitations:
When you want to create educational Android apps, remember about the primary restriction of data synchronization — from version 8, no more than 10 seconds are allocated for background work calculations. Users with older versions will just face a crash when launching the app on their devices. Dealing with this problem is quite real: the simplest solution is using other APIs instead of Android services. If you can not drop services from your app (for example, they are necessary for GPS-tracking), it is better to settle them as foreground services. Thus, the system will not remove your application, and you prevent it from crashing.
Another popular issue is ergonomic restrictions. One of the problems that you encounter when developing the Android educational app is the battery optimizer. With each new version of the operating system, Google is introducing more and more measures to save battery. Thus, on some devices, the optimizer can cancel the user’s reminders and alarms, as it is considered a lot of planned work that reduces battery power. This can threaten to reset all scheduling user activities, which will lead to disappointment with the product and frustration of user experience. To overcome it, switch the battery optimizer off.
If you build an educational app for iOS, you’ll often encounter push notifications restrictions: when the application is closed, you can not affect the display of the push message. Moreover, the App Store rejects applications if the usage of push notifications in them is obligatory. In other words, the application should work without them.
There are the main restrictions in developing iOS and Android educational apps you should take into account. Now let’s touch on the most common challenges so that you will know how to create an educational app comprehensively.
Useful hints on successful educational application development
- “Success assessment,” including analysis of the level of knowledge for optimal performance, are the features, which are most difficult to implement in educational apps. Both of them should be fulfilled on a more powerful backend. In a properly organized process, the mobile team is responsible for the request, reads, and displays of such data from the server.
- The easiest way to create features for assessing success is to write an algorithm that will analyze the level of knowledge of the user according to your criteria. Suppose you indicate that when scoring less than 30 points in the test, the user will be in the initial group.
- Despite the abundance of gamification, we do not recommend spending too much on graphics and animation. Educational interactive mini-games are simple enough for implementation and should be more understandable than aesthetically beautiful. Therefore, instead of UI, focus more on quality UX. To make an educational app is not the same as making a game because it is first and foremost a tool for learning, and it should be extremely clear so that the user does not learn methods of working with it.
Then, if he/she scores more points in subsequent tests, the program will automatically credit their growth and allocate them to the higher performance groups, as the initial results will be exceeded.
If you want to complicate the calculation for determining knowledge and introduce machine learning and complex AI, get ready to spend significantly more time on the implementation of features.
Among the technical side of things we can suggest the following tips:
- Java is recommended for backend implementation;
- we advise to use SOA (service-oriented architecture);
- it is better to write frontend on any JS MVC framework;
- store video in the cloud (Amazon S3 or any other storage provider) to save physical memory.
How much does it cost?
Determination of your educational app potential cost is simple math: start by planning a list of desired features, add the number of developers required to implement them, and in total, you will get the hours necessary for work. For the educational app MVP, you will need the admin site for content addition and such features as:
- user profile;
- push notifications;
- payment system;
- in-app purchases;
- search system;
- content addition;
- lesson categorization;
- statistics of learning progress;
- success assessment.
To implement this set of features, you will need the following specialists:
- 1 Project Manager;
- 1 Tech Lead;
- 1-2 iOS developers;
- 1-2 Android developers;
- 1 Backend developer;
- 1 UI/UX engineer;
- 1 QA engineer.
Please note that for a full-feature product, the number of developers will expand and you will need to add additional features, such as:
- social network integration;
- system of scheduling;
- statistics of learning progress;
- progress tracking;
- files attachment to the course.
In the case of the educational app, Business Analysis and Technical Specification stages will take 50—60 and 20—30 hours respectively. This is the minimum time to draw up a business strategy, plan a set of features and first drafts of UX. For this type of application, UI/UX design is more complex and important than usual, which finds expression in 60+ hours for MVP.
Most of the work will belong to the mobile department with 400+ hours for both iOS and Android MVP. Not only will the server be located on the backend, but also more demanding functions will be performed, such as a “success assessment,” so be ready to spend 300+ hours on it. QA testing traditionally takes 20% of the total development time.
|Full feature hours
|Business analysis + UX||50—60||60—80|
|UI/UX||60—80 for each platform||90—120 for each platform|
|iOS/Android development||200—250 for each platform||400—450 for each platform|
|QA||30—50 for each platform||60—90 for each platform|
Based on the above hours, you can assess the potential value of the educational app development:
|Country||Average hourly rate||MVP
|Full feature set
|USA||$80||$76 000—100 000||$136 000—172 000|
|Western Europe (Germany)||€60||€57 000—75 000||€102 000—129 000|
|UK||£55||£52 250—68 750||£93 500—118 250|
|Eastern Europe (Ukraine)||$30||$28 500—37 500||$51 000—64 500|
How to monetize an educational app?
During the existence of the app markets, many monetization methods were born, some of which suited one, but were not successful with other types of products. The secret to the success of the monetization system is that it must harmonize with the concept of the app, its core mechanics. Your monetization strategy depends on many factors: business idea, audience, market size. Let’s look closer at the current-day most popular earning methods:
- Pay per download
- IAP (In-App Purchases)
With this type of monetization, the user pays once for the app and access all its functions. Typically, paid applications don’t even show ads — otherwise, your app page will be filled up with angry comments and low ratings. If you choose the pay per download distribution, then consider introducing a two-week or one-month free trial — no one likes to buy a pig in a poke, and the user will be able to familiarize himself with this option and love the app, having bought it with willingness after the trial expires.
In this case, the user receives a free-running application, but a number of functions and features are paid. It is better to start by creating two profiles: free and premium. Premium users who have purchased a subscription will be able to use all the features or receive additional functionality. Owners of free versions can only use the product with a number of restrictions. In this scenario, no one will force purchasing.
The most common monetization method at the moment is in-app purchases. In the case of educational apps, the user can:
- unlock features (translator, voice pronunciation);
- open content (new mode, lessons);
- cosmetic features (menu color, avatars, stickers).
When implementing IAP, keep in mind that the App Store has introduced many restrictions, such as prohibiting the purchase of physical goods and services, or the sale of content for rent.
Advertising has long become an integral part of earning in applications. It is stable and is suitable for any educational product. The ads can be presented in the following form:
- banner (a pop-up window that appears on the periphery of the screen. It should be clickable with an option of closing);
- video (short video clip that can be closed after 10-20 seconds of playback. Should provide rewards for those users who watched it till the end);
- playable (a short, interactive flash-game, typically a minute-long);
- full-screen (big pop-up windows, blocking all the screen. Can be closed only after some time);
- notification (push notifications or SMS about favorable in-app offers).
The advertising option can be easily configured in application stores, but you need to be careful about its contents, especially if you have an app for kids. It is worth noting that quite often, developers introduce a paid option to disable ads in the app.
Knowledge is power, and we can add to this well-known aphorism that it is also money. Moreover, it is easier than ever to make money on such a noble thing. For educational app development, you only need a business plan, an experienced vendor, and seed capital. With the first two, we at Aimprosoft can help: just contact us to switch from words to practice.
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