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How to Build an Educational App: 6 Essential Tips

Mobile phones are no longer fretted upon in classes. In fact, more and more educators around the globe urge students to take out their gadgets before the lesson starts.

And frankly, that’s quite incredible. Because a student today can venture into outer space to learn about the solar system using a phone and a Google Cardboard headset.

Learning on the go and getting instant feedback from teachers and peers is another advantage edtech had brought us.

In today’s post, we’d like to have a closer look on why mobile learning market will grow stronger from year-to-year and how you can build a highly adopted m-learning app.

Mobile Learning Market Insights

Whether you plan to make an educational mobile app for corporate training or pursue educational app development for students, the market is ready for disruption.

According to MarketsandMarkets forecast, the global mobile learning market will hit $37.60 billion by 2020. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between now and 2020 is expected to be 36.3%.

Metaari, former Ambient Insights research group, has conducted a more comprehensive global research of the mobile learning market and concluded that mobile learning revenues will triple in 32 countries worldwide by 2019. The top buying countries in 2019 will be China, followed by the USA, India, Indonesia and Brazil.

In fact, Latin America is expected to witness the highest overall growth in mobile learning adoption:

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Here’s the kick – mobile learning growth is expected to be high in countries with high penetration of mobile phones. And many of these countries are mobile-only de facto. To be precise, in 67 out of 119 countries analyzed by Ambient Insight, mobile Internet access rates are higher than PC access. In certain countries e.g. South Africa and Nigeria, mobile penetration rate rivals that of the US at 89%.

For startups, there is some additional good news. The funding of mobile apps for education is ripe as ever.

In 2016, the global investment in edtech companies has hit over $7.33 billion, which is 12.1% higher compared to 2015. And $994.1 million has gone directly to mobile learning suppliers. Age of Learning – a US-based mobile learning company – has closed the 3rd largest investment round of $150 million.

In general, investors felt the most gracious towards consumer-centered educational mobile apps:

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Within the consumer-facing segment, the following product types have received the most funding from the investors in 2016:

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Okay, so it’s safe to say that the demand is already there and mobile learning will remain a hot market segment.

Now, let’s move on to the more exciting part – product development. We’ve lined up a few ideas to help you refine your initial app concept.

Choosing The Right Platform

Native Android, iOS or cross-platform app – which one should I build first?

The correct answer will depend on your target audience preferences. Let’s take college students for starters.

Pearson recently surveyed some 1.000 US students on their gadget preference when it comes to learning:

  • 64% of respondents use a smartphone and 40% use a tablet to do their school work.
  • 88% of students use the standard size smartphone and 43% use large size tablets (e.g. iPad) for school work.
  • 40% of students claimed that they would like to use mobile technologies more often in classes then they do now. And 47% of respondents said that the current usage is just right.

If you plan to target a more general crowd, look into the regional platform preferences and market sizes. We’ve shared detailed insights and growth projections in our previous post.

Choosing iPad/tablet as your primary app platform makes sense if you plan to launch an educational app for K12 or pre-school kids. After all, the majority of tweens and younger don’t own smartphones yet and are given tablets by parents or teachers to engage with.

Further reading: 8 Cases When It’s Worth Building an iPad App First

Profound Customization and Personalization

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In this case, we are talking about fulfilling two different types of demands.

Educators want an app that would allow them to add their own content and “curriculum” in some fashion. Currently, a lot of market solutions are “locked down” and cannot be adjusted to meet the educator’s specific needs.

Students, on the other hand, also want to receive a more personalized learning experience, which would match their learning goals, needs, and pre-existing knowledge better.

According to Educause Review, the following personalized learning activities have demonstrated positive outcomes for students:

  • Tweaking the scope of assignment instructions based on the pre-assessment of students’ knowledge.
  • Deploying AI algorithms that would adapt the content based on relevance to learners goals, their pace of learning and pre-existing knowledge.
  • Adding personalized hints and prompts that would support the student during the learning process.

Blending in AI-components to mobile learning is projected to become more widespread in education according to UNESCO report. If you are up for a challenge, our educational app developers would be happy to guide you within this domain.

Yet, personalization can be deployed in another manner as well – for instance, through encouraging users to explore the world around them and collaborate with their peers in real-time under the educator’s guidance.

Mobile technology comes with additional unique tools such as camera, location-tracking modules, instant messaging etc, which allow creating new types of interactive and personalized learning experiences for students.

For instance, Leafsnap makes botany studies more interactive. You can grab a leaf, take a picture and have the app identify which specimen it is.

Epicollect app allows creating custom forms for data collection, share them with collaborators and encourage them to input/collect any type of data in real-time. Additionally, the app allows adding the data to the map with precise coordinates.

Advanced Analytics and Data Output

Another common issue with educational apps is that a lot of them don’t feature any sort of analytics available to the teachers e.g. chart trends, individual and group progress charts etc. After all, teachers do want to easily spot the areas for improvement and identify the struggling students.

As part of our education app development services we always suggest clients create an additional web analytics platform that would feature the analytical data in a familiar and easy-to-manipulate fashion.

Better Integration and Connectivity

Another common request among educators is enabling better connectivity within the educational products.

For instance, to have a central point of control on their mobile device (e.g. iPad) that would allow them to connect with students both individually and collectively on their mobile learning devices. These two applications (student and teacher-facing) should connect and interact seamlessly with one another. This point should be clearly communicated to the educational app development company you’ll choose to partner with.

Additionally, you may want to build an app that is capable of cooperating with other software already in use at the institution. Though it will increase the development costs, growing your user base and selling the solution to the establishments would be either down the road.

VR in Educational Apps

Smartphone VR is becoming a new massive market. We’ve previously shared some insights, along with a development checklist for businesses.

When it comes to education, the opportunities are numerous. The future of learning can become much more enticing and efficient. After all, “saying” and “doing” is the best way to retain information.

Imagine that a history teacher from Boston will be able to “take” the students to the coliseum in Rome to conduct the lesson in the real setting.

zSpace has already created a series of incredible apps, which bring excitement into STEM – from interactive human body atlases to new courses such as GeoGebra, which bridges together calculus, algebra, and geometry in an interactive manner.

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ALT VR decided to pursue the “social” aspect of the technologies and has built a space for hosting community VR events, where participants can effectively collaborate in real-time while solving various quizzes and trivia.

Language Localization

If you plan to target non-English speaking markets, app localization is essential, especially if your target audience is K12 educators and students.

A lot of them will feel reluctant with adopting a solution that isn’t available in their native language. In fact, 56.2% of consumers claim that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important to them than the product price.

Here are some of the best practices for adapting your mobile learning content:

  • Avoid using region or culture-specific language that can’t be easily translated. That includes common idioms, pop-culture references, proverbs and examples used to illustrate certain points. For instance, “it’s as common as having a hot shower at home” isn’t a great analogy in Indonesia or South-East Asia, where hot water may be a luxury for some.
  • Design with enough space in mind. Some languages tend to appear longer than others. For instance, an English course translated to Spanish may expand by approx. 20%.
  • Do hire professional translators and native speakers when adapting the content or you may end up having some awry texts.

Educational App Developments Costs

And here’s the top question – how much will cost to build an educational app?

In general, the development price quote boils down to:

  • Platform(s)
  • Product type (MVP vs. full-feature product)
  • Functionality
  • Regional salaries

We’ve created a detailed checklist outlining how to get an accurate price quote from developers (with a proposal template inside). Go check it out or feel free to get in touch with us directly for a sales-free consultation

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