Automation is invading all fields of our lives. Education is no exception to this rule: more and more people interested in acquiring new knowledge and skills opt for eLearning, be it a stand-alone MOOC (Massive open online course) or a supplement to an offline course. There are tons of perks that come with eLearning, from saving money and time to being able to develop your competencies with the help of a famous educator (as it was the case with Lynda).
As for development companies, the eLearning niche is likely to remain demanded at any time. No matter how many eLearning apps are already out there, there will always be someone with a bright idea and a qualitatively new education method - and this combination will find its own dedicated target groups.
All in all, if you are looking for a new business idea, making an eLearning app definitely deserves your attention. So, in this article, we’ll cover a number of recommendations for such apps’ technical components and take a look at some eLearning apps that have already gained worldwide popularity.
Educational Mobile App: An Insight into the Market Size
According to an independent forecast by ResearchAndMarkets.com, the global eLearning market size will amount to $65.41 billion by 2023. We can also predict that more and more commercial mass-market apps will fill the marketplaces (such as Google Play and App Store) - so, it’s not only about corporate learning management systems (LMS).
Generally speaking, such an astronomical estimate of the market size is not a big surprise. Considering the popularity of such online services as Udemy and Coursera that acquired millions of users in a matter of months, we can be sure that your app will find its users fast (if it is truly outstanding, helpful and intuitive for them, of course).
Selecting the Format for Your Future eLearning App
Before we get started on the technical aspects of implementing an eLearning app, let’s take a look at the main types of such software so that you can determine which one of them suits your vision of the product best:
- Courses. This is the most usual interpretation of eLearning apps - a carefully planned sequence of lessons that allows users to level up their competencies in a particular field (from foreign languages to something a lot less predictable, like astronomy);
- Guides. This app format represents a structured handbook containing the information relevant for a particular niche. The simplest version of such an app is a dictionary;
- Testing tools. Such apps allow its users to evaluate their competencies by taking tests - i.e., the app presents questions, analyzes the answers and shows the results.
We can’t call any of them the most popular type of eLearning apps with 100% certainty. So, we suggest you base your choice on the resources you have and your vision.
Top 12 Features of an Average Learning App
Now, let’s get acquainted with the list of 12 features that you may include in your future eLearning app.
More and more apps become user-oriented, and it’s no coincidence - developers try to make them more attractive for the target groups and offer each potential user the most beneficial ways to interact with the app. For instance, on the personal account screen, users should be able to track their learning progress or save their banking card details for automatic subscription renewal.
Authorization deserves your particular attention. If you develop a corporate learning management system, you’ll need to ensure it’s highly secure - so, you should include the two-factor authentication method, password encryption, SSO (Single Sign-On) logging, etc. In case it is a mass-market app we’re talking about, the authentication procedure should be kept to the minimum number of clicks. For instance, you can integrate your app with social media to allow authorizing using a Facebook or Google account. If you do, users will just need to click one button to get access to all the features of your app - and it’s a more user-friendly approach than requiring them to fill in forms with five or six fields.
Course Plan or a Table of Contents
It doesn’t matter what you’re going to work on, a guide or a course app, - your users will have to deal with colossal amounts of information in any case. If this information is not properly structured (as a learning plan or a table of contents), a newcomer is unlikely to be able to appreciate the user experience if your app.
As we’ve mentioned in the previous subsection, eLearning apps often have to deal with huge amounts of data. So, you will not be able to have such an app without a database. Whereas it’s not up to you, you can determine how the data will be stored - in files of a specific extension (this is usual for corporate eLearning apps) or of a massively use done that are supported by various operating systems.
As there are no offline lessons or activities led by an educator in person, you need to make it up for your users. What you can do is provide them with the access to video recordings of such lessons led by qualified educators (and by the way, it is a great way to monetize your app). Or, you can offer users to attend a live stream of lessons.
Cloud-based integration will be handy for your users if your app includes group tasks for learners. So, instead of uploading their work in the app, you can allow your users to create and edit documents online within the app, and both on their own and collectively.
Besides, cloud-based integration can speed up checking home tasks for educators - they won’t need to download each document, check it, and upload the checked one into your app.
To motivate your future users to keep learning, you can include a personal achievement bar into the app. By the way, such a bar can be included not only in course-based apps - it can find its application in guide-based software as well. For instance, your app can track the metrics like the number of views of particular materials within the app so that users can see their learning progress.
This feature is needed for ensuring the interaction with users is full-fledged and meaningful. For instance, you can allow the subscribed users to count on some personal feedback on their work and progress from the educator leading the course.
Such a feature will help boost the users’ interest toward your app. Chatting is irreplaceable if your app includes collaboration on home tasks; besides, user chats will contribute to the social interaction within the app - and users will be able to speak with like-minded people that strive for knowledge in a particular field.
Most eLearning apps include so-called in-app purchases like a subscription for an advanced-level course or access to certain materials (for example, the live streams). To ensure the transactions are made in a secure way for both parties involved, you should integrate a payment gateway into your app.
Making certain options available without Internet access will, undoubtedly, be an advantage for your app. Alternatively, you can allow users to download certain materials to their smartphones while they have Internet access to be able to read, listen or watch them offline. This is how you can make your app much more convenient for those who travel a lot and don’t always have WiFi access.
English Puzzle, a popular eLearning app, regularly sends messages to its users - those messages could be just congratulations on a holiday or reminders that the user needs to continue learning.
All in all, this feature’s primary purpose is to keep learners motivated, but it can also be used for additional monetization purposes - you can offer your users to acquire a premium subscription or purchase extra features.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
These two technologies are quite expensive to implement; however, they are extremely trendy today - seeing ‘AR’ or ‘VR’ in the app’s description gets even the most skeptical marketplace visitors interested. Of course, not all eLearning apps would benefit from such technological advancements. Yet, if you have courses in arts, geography, or history in mind, either of these technologies will definitely be helpful for your users.
As for designing the learning process itself, we suggest you learn the basics of gamification. Using gamification methods, you will be able to turn the learning process into a fun and exciting process, even if the subject itself seems to be boring for the learner at a first glance or it requires a lot of mental efforts. Besides, you can take a look at some stats that proof that games are the most frequently downloaded type of mobile apps - and this is a clear sign your users will like gamification elements.
How to Monetize Your eLearning App
Finally, let’s find out about the most important part for business owners in the field of eLearning solutions - how to monetize them. There are six most popular ways to do that.
Ads are, perhaps, the most controversial way to monetize mobile apps. On the one hand, no one would argue that an unexpected pop-up ad is extremely irritable and automatically mitigates the positive aspects of an app. On the other hand, we all know that if you get something for ‘free’, you need to pay for it with your own comfort.
As practice has shown, most users are ready to deal with minor inconveniences to get free access to learning services. (The most important thing is to make sure the ads don’t flash before users’ eyes all the time.) Ultimately, you can offer a paid subscription with no ads for, especially picky users. For instance, this is what YouTube does.
As for the most suitable ad content, it is better to place ads of those products or services that can be potentially interesting for your app’s target groups.
eLearning mobile apps often offer their users to purchase some items relevant for their field of interest and helpful for developing their competencies. This is a highly efficient mobile app monetization method that is focused on making a buck on the potential customers that are already interested in what you have to offer.
So, in this case, your users will get a free app, but they will be offered additional informational resources at a price tag - it could be anything from books and videos to whole courses.
All in all, this monetization approach is considered to be among the most profitable ones, as you deal with customers that already realize that they need your product and why they need it. By the way, this is the approach used by Coursera (it offers both free and paid courses) and Duolingo.
Similar to the previous method, paid services can also provide with a stable source of passive income. For instance, you can offer your users the opportunity to communicate with a highly qualified educator directly to get their learning progress and competencies checked and advised how to improve them by that educator. (This is the monetization method actively used by Udacity.)
Paid App Versions
One more widely used monetization approach in the eLearning niche is creating a demo version of your app and offering the full one at a fee. After trying out the demo version, users will experience all the perks of your app themselves, so they will be more likely to be ready to pay for the full version. Such a method is used by Memrise which offers a set of extra features in a paid premium version.
There is also such a transparent method as implementing charges for the updates to your app. Basically, users get a free initial version of the app, and they can purchase additional updates to be released in the future that will extend the app’s functionality.
This monetization method will be a perfect fit for those who opt for a minimum viable product (MVP) instead of a full-fledged app.
As for users’ reception of this method, it is a fair and transparent way to earn on your app. If the user doesn’t want to or can’t pay for updates, he or she will still be able to enjoy the old version that may be handy enough without those updates.
This one more trivial monetization approaches. It is as simple as it can be: you charge your users monthly or annually for using the app. What is important, you need to ensure your app is worth the fee in the users’ eyes. You can see how it works by taking a look at Brainscape.
Developing an Educational App: Conclusion
Making an eLearning app these days can easily lead to a great return on investment covering and exceeding the initial expenses. This is no surprise: in the age of technological advancements, we all strive to be as smart as the devices we use.
Are you up to launching your own eLearning app? In case you are looking for a development team that would execute your vision in a fast, high-quality and cost-efficient manner, you’ve already found one. We’ve got you covered: our Applikey Solutions team can offer you several execution concepts (hybrid, cross-platform or native development) to make sure you can make the right choice that will fit your time and budget constraints.