E-learning App Development: Driving Education Opportunities

E-learning App Development: Driving Education Opportunities

Covid-19 turned things upside down and pushed education to the digital route. And now e-learning app development and online course platforms are seen in a new light. 

The fact: the e-learning industry has passed the infant stage before this unprecedented situation. Many companies and startups have been already developing and improving staff skills with such apps. Besides, the investments hit US $18.66 billion in 2019 and were expected to reach $350 billion by 2025. And now, e-learning mobile apps for extra-curriculum and secondary education sprang like mushrooms after rain.

The switch to online education makes the e-learning market place an attractive business opportunity. Wonder how to make an educational app? We'll cover this topic via these points:

Education in Covid-19 World: Challenges and Solutions

As pandemic keeps its course, people get used to the new routines, needs and priorities. Like all other industries, the educational industry is disrupted and forced to go remote. Some schools struggle to shift to online formats, others dealt with adaptation to digital inequality: no devices, complex management and communication tools, and e-learning apps. 

In this situation, the online learning marketplace can help with software and applications to facilitate

  • online instructions (i.e., chats or video chat with whiteboard sharing)
  • classes and material sharing (i.e., podcasts, presentations, video lectures or articles, and quizzes available online)
  • managing content and students (i.e., track the progress, engagement and results of tests)

The current status of Covid-19 might stay for a while, and both education providers are trying to adapt to these realities. Thus, the UNESCO chart shows that lots of schools are still being closed. E-learning might be a proper solution to avoid an educational hold on status.

E-learning during pandemic

Source: https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse

Emerging Educational Challenges

The bad news. The educational system around the world has suffered from nurturing its roots: the Industrial Revolution model with a straight focus on IQ, in particular memorizing and standardizing information. 

Is that so bad? Well, the IQ based and rote learning equips students with the knowledge and skills that soon will be replaced by artificial intelligence.

The good news: online or distance learning can change and strengthen the current education system by introducing new methods (i.e., microlearning, blended learning, AI and AR learning.)

The fast switch to online learning is a rather painful one. And here are a few reasons why: 

  • schools don't have bases for the online classes and teachers spend much time preparing and organizing the materials
  • teachers have to use their personal devices for running distant learning
  • access to or reliable internet connection
  • many students lack any devices so they can't learn online 
  • insufficient training of teachers
  • school programs have to adapt to hybrid or e-learning
  • security and data privacy of websites, communication or managing tools
  • psychological pressure from the isolation
  • lack of interaction decreases engagement in both: learning and teaching

Turns out that the least developed countries and separate areas of developed countries will struggle to embrace this forced digital education.

School Year Following Pandemic

Children and families have to cope with economic hardships, social isolation, and other stresses around the world. And the reopening of schools and universities acquires critical value.

Covid-19 School Learning Playbook

What will the upcoming school year look like? Let's look at California. This state doesn't expect any opening of their school campuses this fall. But they are more leaning to hybrid models.

  • Two-day rotation blended learning model. The students have 2 days for in-person classes, the other 2 days they work remotely. On Fridays, all students have distant learning classes.
  • A/B week blended learning model. One group has face-to-face classes at school, the other one enjoys e-learning opportunities. The next week, students switch.
  • Looping structure. Teachers and students are staying together over multiple grade levels for getting better results.
  • Early/late staggered schedules. All grade levels will have AM/PM schedule rotations.

Another sample is Minnesota as an example: Their public schools (pre-K through grade 12) may run on such scenarios:

  • In-person learning for all students. The physical distance of 6 feet+ is a must. On condition, the Covid-19 metric curve will improve all over the state.
  • Hybrid model with strict social distancing and capacity limits. The people in schools should be 50% cut, preserved distancing 6 feet.
  • Distance learning only.

One more example from British Columbia (Canada) includes 5 stages framework for K-12 education during Covid-19:

Education during Covid-19

Source: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/covid-19-return-to-school

Recap: The school year in North America prepares for a hybrid schedule and takes online learning as a backup plan during the pandemic.

Europe Covid-19 School Learning Playbook

The European countries are considering a variety of approaches to education this fall. These methods are shorter lessons, fewer students in classrooms, interchanging of online and onsite teaching, or combinations of these and other solutions. To be more specific, here are a few peek ins:

  • Poland is going to reopen in a full-time way, but the choice of switching online in the case of the Covid-19 spike lies on the shoulders of heads of schools.
  • Hungary and the Czech Republic expect to start a normal school year with a heavy accent on increased hand disinfection and classroom ventilation.
  • Serbia plans to reopen schools with students and class timing limitations.
  • Croatia is looking forward to opening full-time schools, and offers online learning to students who can't visit schools due to health issues.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina considered three options: in-person, mixed onsite and offsite, and fully remote learning.
  • The UK Ministry of Education expects the upcoming year to start as normal, full-time learning. Thus, students with health issues will "attend" online learning classes.
  • Italy prepares for the in-person school year, but with physical distancing, mundane disinfection and face covering, outside the school classes. The distance learning will be granted to students whose family members are at risk.
  • In Germany, some federal states have already started a school year, others are still preparing. The learning process has a hybrid schedule: small groups of students, mandatory masks at certain schools, and distance learning to provide jobs for teachers.

The recap: central Europe and Balkans are getting ready for a normal school year. However, distance learning is expected to be proposed in the Covid-19 peak situations.

What Are the Latest E-Learning App Development Trends?

The pandemic situation shows the rising interest in e-learning tools and techniques. And it seems that the market is ready to shift education online. So if you want to create an e-learning app, the quick review of the trends will route your ideas to the actual plan.

Unfortunately, not all learners can afford to have a personal computer while a smartphone is a more accessible device. One of the trends is the rise of mobile e-learning apps

The monotonous study makes students bored while motivation is key to success. Such methods as gamification, microlearning, social learning, AR and VR, and AI refresh the learning process. Let's dive a bit deeper with these last educational app for kids features.

Mobile Learning Catches the Trend

People spend more time on the web via their smartphones. No wonder that mobile learning gets on a boat of learning options during Covid-19. Those apps provide a huge variety of content that can be accessed online. They also help to track the progress daily, weekly, or monthly.

The pros: 

  • accessible and affordable
  • flexible learning environment
  • improved performance

The cons:

  • a learner can be easily distracted
  • weak internet connection
  • software and hardware problems

E-learning and Gamification

Gaming elements keep learners interested. Usually, they appear in places where they aren't supposed to be. These elements may be shaped as challenges, levels to pass, badges, scoreboards, and the like. The higher results, the better performance a student has.

The pros: 

  • learner's engagement increase
  • immediate feedback on performance
  • extra motivation for students
  • building new social connections

The cons:

  • expensive to develop
  • games might not align with the learner's material
  • leaderboards switch focus from learning to competing
  • learners rewarded for completion, not performance

Microlearning Towards Scaling Learners Engagement

What is microlearning? The learning course presented in bite-sized pieces of useful information. The learning material presented via articles, videos, infographics, podcasts, or a mix of all mentioned types. You can consume those pieces from 2 to 7 minutes. Students are encouraged as they learn on-the-go and complete the course.

The pros: 

  • learn anytime and anywhere
  • increase student engagement
  • avoid cognitive overload
  • improved knowledge retention

The cons:

  • not fit-all-courses learning option
  • lead to a fragmented learning experience
  • the bad option of long-term goals

What is Social Learning?

Social learning is a learning theory that argues that people learn from each other through observation and socialization. More often it takes forms of collaborative learning where a discussion and interaction at its core. For example: project deliverables, guided learning programs, and participation in networks.

The pros: 

  • spur to develop self-management skills
  • active learning process
  • adds to knowledge retention
  • reduce training costs

The cons:

  • hinder productivity
  • lack the context and requires additional information
  • no control over the process

Diving into Immersive Learning Experience: VR and AR

At a glance: virtual reality (VR) creates a dynamic 3D environment and requires headset or HMD, controllers, and headphones for getting into the VR experience. 

Augmented reality (AR) expands the real-world environment. As a rule, physical objects serve as triggers for graphic, sound, or video simulations. To enjoy this experience, you need AR glasses, a smartphone, or a tablet.

Those technologies enhance the focus on learning and practicing new skills in the imitated physical world.

The pros: 

  • a full immersion into learning
  • distractions omitted
  • improved knowledge retention
  • personalized content

The cons:

  • expensive development
  • require additional devices
  • not very flexible

AI and Machine Learning: Shifting to Max Personalization

AI keeps conquering our everyday life and brings innovations to the education industry, too. Nearly every gadget has an AI assistant (i.e., Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant, and the like) that personalizes your user experience. In their core machine learning algorithms. These algorithms are also used in e-learning app development to track student performance, recommend content, and identify the current knowledge and weak spots.

The pros: 

  • personalized learning
  • built-in tutoring
  • flexible scheduling
  • better inclusive education

The cons:

  • cost of developing and maintenance
  • lack of personal connections
  • prone to information loss
  • no alternative teaching methods

E-Learning App Development: Where to Start?

Before you dive into education app development, you are better to know your competitors. Once you define your target audience, you come up with your unique selling proposition. Having this basic information, you kick off a roadmap for your e-learning app or website.

Run a Market Search: 10 Top E-learning Apps

E-learning is quite often treated as a catch-all umbrella term. Thus, remote learning varies a lot. Let's enlist a few categories:

  • course platforms like Coursera, KhanAcademy, Udemy, Open University
  • language learning apps like Duolingo, Babbel, Busuu
  • apps for memorizing like TinyCards, Memrise, Memorize By Heart, Memorize words
  • exam preparation apps like ExamPrep, IELTS Prep App, ACT Prep, SAT Up

The trends come and go. Either way, you can get a clue to audience interests by checking the top apps. In May the top downloaded apps list looked like this

Top education apps 2020

Source: https://sensortower.com/blog/top-education-apps-worldwide-may-2020

And here is a sample of the top 10 apps via App Annie.

Google Play August Top 10 Apps in Education Category

E-learning app development trends: Google Play August Top 10 Apps in Education Category

iOS (for iPhone) August Top 10 Apps in Education Category

Trends in building an e-learning app


Shape Your Education App Idea into a Business Plan

Knowing the landscape of the e-learning marketplace, you can narrow the category you want to work in. Then surf the customer feedback of your key competitor(s). That way you will accentuate the areas of importance: expectations and requirements to the app performance, design, and content.

Think about the budget planning of your project: market search, development expenses, maintenance expenses, staff compensation, and the like. Here you can read more about this. 

And also think about the monetization ways: subscription, in-app ads, or in-app purchases. That aspect heavily depends on the type of learning content.

How to Create the E-learning App?

Let's say you got the material (lectures, exercises, tests, or videos) and you want to shape into the app. Or you want to build an app that serves as a medium between teachers or educators and learners. But you have no technical background or team to create this app. The solution is straightforward: hire an outsource development agency to handle this task.

Before getting in touch with an outsourcing development company, think about 

  • Think about the platform(s) and the tech stack of the future app.
  • Do you have any sketches of UX/UI? No? At least, jot down the ideas.
  • Look at the assessment system and gamification elements (if you want such features).
  • Decide on the payment gateway.

Ask the outsourcing agency about 

  • back end and database to store materials
  • how security and privacy matters can be implemented
  • integration via social networks

How much does it cost to build the education app? That's a good question that has no definite answer. As the price of the e-learning app depends on the functionality, tech stack, and the number of supported platforms (Android, iOS, or both). Still, you can get a rough price estimation of your app. If you have questions, feel free to schedule a call with the Apiko expert.

Wrap Up

Pandemic runs its course. We have to adapt our routines, work, and education to these new safe life requirements. In this light, the market requires remote learning options. And e-learning mobile app development is an opportunity worth catching. Apart from earning money, you will provide access to education.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is e-learning and its benefits?

E-learning helps you to deliver educational content via the internet or intranet. Learners can use smartphones, tablets or personal computers to access the educational material.

Compared to traditional learning, the e-learning

  • supports flexible scheduling for a student
  • is cost- and time-efficient 
  • has on-demand access, available anytime, anywhere
  • supports scalable resources
  • with gamification elements increase the student engagement

What are the e-learning tools?

E-learning tools are software types that allow you to create and run online courses:
  • Learning Management System (LMS) is tracking the progress and performance of online learners.
  • Authoring tools enhance creating and publishing educational content.
  • Content Management System (CMS) handles the courses tracking and managing.