The coronavirus pandemic has caused an unprecedented disruption in our education systems, affecting more than 1.5 billion learners, from pre-primary to higher education, in over 190 countries.
According to a UN study, the closure of learning spaces in the aftermath of the crisis impacted 94 percent of the global student population.
The school closures particularly exacerbated the education crisis in the underdeveloped and developing world, where according to UNESCO, 258 million children were already out of schools. As of June 2020, around 422 million secondary students were still unable to attend school in person.
It is believed that the closure of academic institutes will further magnify the existing inequalities in societies by widening the skills gap and threatening the career prospects for young students. The recent Save the Children reports claim that almost 10 million children could be deprived of their right to education permanently due to Covid-19.
The Rise of eLearning
The rise of e-learning platforms and educational apps has acted as a beacon of light in response to the crisis. Several countries, global regulatory bodies, and individuals have taken steps to explore new models of providing education via digital means to complement the physical classrooms.
App developers around the world are also leveraging EdTech (educational technology) to deliver education amid school closures. The EdTech sector is estimated to triple in value and reach a whopping $350 billion by 2025. The rapid growth is likely to be driven by the proliferation of online learning solutions and mobile apps to address the education crisis.
The online learning solutions use IT tools with intuitive educational practices to facilitate learning and provide education access to learners in many parts of the world. The ongoing crisis has accelerated the creation and adoption of educational apps, which is one reason why the App Store and Google Play had their highest educational app downloads during the first quarter of 2020.
Essential Features of an Educational App
Since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the ways of dispensing and acquiring knowledge went through a paradigm shift. Amid the rapid growth of mobile educational apps, the pandemic also provided us insights into the essential features that would make e-learning apps and the education system more resilient to crises like COVID-19. Below, we have put together a list of must-have features for building quality educational apps.
Mobile educational apps play an important role in opening remote learning options for users around the world. With over 5 billion subscribers worldwide, mobile has the potential to contribute significantly to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of providing an inclusive and equitable education to all. More than 1.2 billion users currently utilize their phones to educate themselves or their kids, indicating an increase of 140 million subscribers since 2017.
Despite these encouraging stats, unequal access to fast speed internet and digital tools is a major factor inhibiting e-learning for many users. Not all users have access to broadband internet or Wi-Fi to utilize educational apps to advance their education. Slow and iffy internet connection or the increasing cost of mobile data in some parts of the world are causing many students to miss out on learning opportunities.
Therefore, app developers should make efforts to incorporate offline access feature in the apps so that users can access the course content even without an internet connection. Offline mode will not only maximize the reach of educational apps but also reduce the digital divide.
You might already have heard the adage that ‘content is king,’ but it couldn’t be more accurate in the case of educational apps. When you offer valuable content that catches the users’ attention, the chances of your app being downloaded increases manifold.
If you aim to target school kids as your audience, make sure you include compelling content with eye-catching images and vibrant colors. Kids love colors and characters, so you can serve them well by adding cool cartoon characters as guides for each chapter in the app.
Moreover, use simple language so that every kid can grasp the topic and understand what it is trying to convey. Adding fun facts in-between topics will keep them interested and help them retain the content.
Live Tutorials and Sessions
The ongoing pandemic and the ensuing lockdown made us realize the human craving for live interaction and engagement. Live tutorials and interactive sessions should be, therefore, necessary features of any educational app. Live sessions allow students to participate in lectures and interact with their teachers in an environment similar to a physical classroom.
App developers should provide a virtual classroom experience in their apps where students can chat with each other and ask questions to clear their ambiguities. Developers should also add features that allow students to set up private teaching sessions with their teachers and address any doubts they have on any subject or topic. A mobile app that offers such a level of student-teacher engagement is bound to appeal to the users and see more downloads than its competitors.
Most educational apps on the app stores lack this important feature. Hence, you can implement them in your app and position yourself as an authority in the e-learning domain.
Most of us prefer an experience that is tailored to our needs. App users feel more comfortable with apps that they can customize according to their study habits and needs. Personalizing the user experience requires a significant amount of investment; however, the end results always justify the money and efforts that go into it. Customization may not improve your customer acquisition, but it will certainly skyrocket your customer retention rate.
Quizzes and Mock Tests
Educational apps should offer an alternative for the hardcopy tests and quizzes. A mini-quiz placed at the end of a lesson can be a valuable feature for students to track their progress and review key points before moving on to the next lesson. App developers should allow users to upload and download test papers and attempt answering them in a limited timed format.
E-quizzes can also be a self-assessment tool for students without feeling any fear of failure. There is room for every user to test their ideas and re-test them in case they prove wrong. Above all, tests and quizzes within educational apps drive engagement by making the users interact with the content. They make a user think and become an active participant.
Gaming being the most popular category on App Store and Google Play is a testament to the fact that both kids and adults enjoy playing games. So, what could be better for a mobile educational app if it can teach users using games.
Several studies have found that kids can learn more effectively if taught through fun activities rather than the usual tasks from their course.
Therefore, app developers need to gamify the app’s experience to keep users hooked to the app. It will draw users more actively into a course and help them retain the lessons more effectively.
Social Media Integration
Parents usually refrain kids from using social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, but these platforms have proven extremely useful for rapid dissemination of educational content during the pandemic. Social media integration should be a must-have feature in educational apps, given how connected students are to these platforms.
Educational apps can leverage social media platforms to share announcements about new content, post updates, and host live lectures. Educational apps that work hand in hand with social media platforms will attract more users and make them stay active within the app. So, it is a win-win situation for students and educational app companies alike.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our education system in an unprecedented way. The learning process is now entirely different than what it used to be in the pre-pandemic world. Educational app development is a leading trend across all the app stores, with hundreds of thousands of users relying on e-learning apps for their academic requirements.
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