Online E learning App Development: Types, Features and Best Cases
Have you noticed the rapid growth of the online education market? Yep, e-learning app development keeps showing promising opportunities. This online education niche was expected to reach $350 Billion by 2025. And now, students go a bit far beyond binge-watching Netflix or Disney+. The school year has started, but a considerable number of schools choose a remote learning mode, or are partially open. Seems that there is enough space for the new e-learning apps and courses.
Do you have a couple of online e-learning app ideas? Or thinking about building an e-learning marketplace? The e-learning platform development shouldn't be a go-with-the-flow roller coaster. Check out these insights on e-learning app types, features, and examples. It will be a good starting point for your project. So let's talk about:
Why go into e-learning platform development?
From today's perspective, remote learning and, particularly, e-learning mobile apps help
- students to keep on with their education
- people to acquire new skills
- employees to explore new career options
- to develop a new hobby
Others take e-learning popularity with a pinch of salt and point out the drawbacks of online learning apps.
- They don't fit all types of learners
- Some students have a focus deficit
- Possible technology problems (e.g., internet connectivity, device issues, teachers aren't technology-friendly)
- Lack of physical interaction
Recap: the online e-learning apps have strong and weak sides. They don't direct the students to jump through the hoops. With e-learning applications, a student gets a personalized curriculum and schedule. They help to fight back the imparity of education.
What are the types of online learning platforms?
The e-learning platform aims to substitute the traditional classroom as much as possible. Today, its role goes from an acceptable alternative to an integral part of the learning process.
From the entrepreneur’s perspective: which online e learning app type is a target to shoot at? Let's take a quick review of the main types, features, and apps examples.
Student Management Systems (SMS)
Profile: SMS is software for managing students, employees, alumni, donor data. As well as curriculums, schedules, and communication. These apps are also known as Student Information Systems (SIS). SMS offer quick access to student information, payment processing, and enhance communication with school functionaries.
- School staff manages students and administration data, admission, billing, and other processes.
- Students check the class schedule, track their own performance, and contact teachers directly.
- Parents keep the pulse on kids’ performance, attendance, and behavior.
- Student data management (personal data, medical records, emergency contacts, attendance, and grades.) and all interactions.
- Individual education plans (IEP) management allows creating a personalized curriculum for every student.
- Admission management routes a prospect from enrolling to graduating.
- Registration and scheduling help students sign up for courses and without distorting their schedules.
- Grade management. The teachers create and manage a grade book for all students.
- Accounting services for managing fees, scholarships, and fundings.
- Course administration/lesson plans option allows creating, managing, viewing, and updating.
- Internal workflows and document management.
- Student portal. That way students track their performance, schedules, grades, attendance. It is also a communication channel with teachers.
- Parents portal. Parents or guardians track the kids’ academic progress, attendance, behavior, and communicate with school staff.
- Integration with third-party apps.
Apps to check out: Gradelink, Ellucian Banner Student, PeopleSoft Campus Solutions, Skyward, Infinite Campus, Workday Student, School Time.
Profile: These educational apps enhance the assessment process for teachers and students. Its benefits are clear: Teachers have fewer troubles in creating exams and checking results. And students have a streamlined assessment process.
Assessment apps come in two types:
- Lesson creation. It helps to create an interactive lesson with the assessments built in the material.
- Point solution. You can create assessments, collect results, handle the administration tasks, and run reports. These apps also support integration with SMS.
- Teachers use assessment software capabilities for creating, distributing, and grading the exams. They also address the students' problems during the assessment.
- Students interact directly with the app: see the test questions and choose or write in the answers.
- Administrators check the performance, compare the results, set the standards of data formating and policies.
- Assessment management provides standard and custom templates. It also has options to create and manage all assessments.
- Analytics collects the results and supports segmentation and comparison options.
- Reporting delivers a set of pre-built reports drawn from the collected data.
- Multi-lingual support for creating and passing the assessments.
- Dashboards deliver a quick overview of the collected data and results.
- Offline mode helps to run assessments without connecting to the Internet.
- White-label allows branding of the assessment and software itself.
Apps to check out: ExamSoft, ClassMarker, GoReact, Aware, ExamView, Blackboard Learn
Virtual classroom software
Profile: Virtual classroom apps create an in-person learning atmosphere. These online e learning apps aim to improve the distant learning process and engage students.
- Teachers connect with students who were absent or deliver the lessons.
- College and university lecturers and instructors improve the online instruction delivery.
- Students can join the online class meeting via a downloaded app or web browser.
- Online tutors have interactive lessons, assessments, or live sessions.
- Administrators use the video conferencing options.
- Employee trainers run the onboarding or learning sessions for employees in different locations.
- Video conferencing enhances lesson discussions and remote interactions. Automatedly optimized video and audio to the users' connection speed.
- Video encryption and password access for preserving privacy and security.
- Whiteboards help teachers to demonstrate how to solve the task step-by-step. Some educational apps provide collaborative whiteboards.
- Text chat helps to ask questions during the class session or when a student has video/voice connection issues.
- File sharing and storage support uploading presentations, PDFs, audio or video files and share them with students.
- Screen sharing. It is useful when the file uploading fails, or when the teacher needs to show the process flow.
- Polls and surveys help the teacher to get instant feedback from students.
- Breakout rooms allow the teacher to split the class into separate groups for discussions, projects, or other learning activities.
- Quizzes option offers to create and manage the assessments.
- Hand raise button helps students to ask a question or share some information without interrupting.
- Analytics shows the students' attendance, performance, and engagement.
- Mobile apps support.
Apps to check out: Schoology, Blackboard Collaborate, LearnCube, Top Hat, Vedamo Virtual Classroom, TutorRoom, ClassIn, Electa, Newrow Smart
Video conferencing software
Profile: Video conferencing apps focus more on business than e-learning. And the
virtual classroom apps incorporate live video streaming, much like video conferencing platforms. So they are quite very similar in functionality.
Users: For the users, check out the Visual Classroom Software.
- Video calling supports high-quality one-to-one or group calls.
- Audio calling performs similarly to phone calls. So users can join the conference call with audio-only.
- Session recording. The material gets stored for future reference.
- Screen sharing shows some process or documents right away instead of a web camera feed.
- Text chat works during the session and outside the meetings.
- Document sharing is often built in the chat.
- Multimedia presentation can be a built-in option. Or it can be an integrated third-party app to demonstrate the slides.
- Scheduling helps to set up the next meeting with the software.
Apps to check out: BigBlueButton, Skype, Samba Live, Zoom, GoToMeeting, join.me, Whereby, Circuit
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)
Profile: MOOC is a platform or a marketplace of online courses. It offers free online courses available for anyone to enroll. Usually, these courses include video lessons, reading material, assessments, and discussion forums.
- Students, whose interests vary from the curriculum, sign up for the online courses.
- Managers and team leaders improve their skills or address their knowledge gaps.
- Course library and learning paths. The courses sharing or extending the same topic are usually bundled together.
- Skill assessments help to test material comprehension. Usually, there are after-lesson quizzes, topic quizzes, and the final assessment. If the student gets the passing score, the online learning platform offers a badge or a certificate.
- Video content is one of the prevailing types of content offered by MOOCs.
- Analytics. For a student shows the performance progress. For a business, it shows employee enrollment, attendance, completed classes, and scores.
- Certifications and badges are proof of successful learning. They can be attached to LinkedIn profiles or downloaded and printed. Some MOOC providers have partnerships with universities. And they offer an online course that counts equal to getting a bachelor’s or master's degree at that institution.
- Mobile apps enhance learning on-the-go.
Apps to check out: Udemy, Coursera, FutureLearn, Udacity, Khan Academy, edX
Learning Management System (LMS)
Profile: LMS focus on academic use for cyber schools. So the students can access the learning material from anywhere. This type of e-learning apps helps to monitor the performance, collect reports, run assessments, and enhance teacher-student communication.
- Students access materials, take online and submit assessments, and track their progress too.
- School administrators track student progress and attendance.
- Teachers lead learning sessions, upload materials, create assessments, monitor the performance, and the like.
- Content creation and distribution.
- Multimedia sharing and storage. All users of LMS can upload and share video, audio, slides, text-based content.
- Profiles. Students can create and manage their own profiles.
- Dashboards bring key information and customizable reports.
- Gradebooks. Teachers create and manage grade books. Students can check up on their progress similarly to the SMS apps.
- Reporting. Teachers and administrators can run pre-built reports or generate customizable ones.
- Calendar keeps users aware of their schedules and upcoming activities.
- The gamified environment with badges and leaderboards aims to engage students to learn.
- Peer-feedback and learning bring emphasis on collaboration, communication, and peer-to-peer sharing.
- White-labeling is often a sought-after branding option by academic institutions.
Apps to check out: Canvas, Google Classroom, Docebo, Moodle, Tovuti, eThink LMS, Brainmint mobile LMS
Online tutoring platform
Profile: It is like an e-learning marketplace for finding the right tutor. These platforms help students to find the tutors, set an appropriate schedule, get automated billing.
During a tutor registration, some platforms require a teaching license in Masters or Ph.D. And, in the UK, some platforms ask for DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks.
- Students join the tutor sessions, make notes, ask questions, leave comments, and rate the tutors.
- Parents track the child's performance, set schedules, communicate with a tutor, and make payments.
- Tutors get connected with the students and parents, organize their schedules, sessions, materials, and the like.
- Tutor profile management with contact details, qualifications, available times for sessions, the price of services, and the like.
- Student profile with contact information, academic needs, and preferred time for sessions.
- Attendance tracking helps a tutor to monitor the students’ attendance.
- Lesson notes. Tutor updates these notes for parents to track the child's performance and progress.
- Online payment option shows the invoices and helps to make payments.
- Reports collect and analyze the data. It shows the revenue, the number of students, sessions, and the like.
- Notifications ensure that tutors and students don't miss a session or other activities.
Apps to check out: The platforms can be multi-subject (Tutor House, Wyzant, TutorMe, Preply, Tutorful), STEM-focused (Skooli), and specialized (e.g., art and music Lessonface.)
Children's mini-games in the educational app development
46% That's how many children aged 8-12 play mobile games in 2019. And this tendency is unlikely to drop, but it is rather to grow. If you want to focus on children as a targeted audience, take heart from this simple fact: Children's mentality and perception differ from the adults.
How does kid games differ from adult games? Here are a few samples:
- An adult wants to reach a goal with the minimum efforts. A child sees the process of reaching a goal and the goal itself equally meaningful.
- A child expects immediate feedback or reward (points, trophies, badges, and the like) for a task accomplishment. Mask the negative feedback into an encouraging disguise.
- Due to small experience, children are more trusting than adults. So the mini-game content should be valid, consistent, and reliable.
- The age range is more segmented in comparison to adult game apps.
- The clear and informative setting and onboarding is a must. The children's game app needs less text, but more gesture instructions and step-by-step tutorials.
Another problem is, how to actually create an educational app? The psychological study on educational apps emphasizes the four essential aspects of learning to include in the e-learning app development. This is the tricky bit, but we'll try to keep it simple.
- Active learning. That means the child has not only to tap and swipe but also put mental effort during the interaction with the app. Simple scenario: a kid is tapping a puzzle piece to figure out its right position. That activates thinking and intellectual manipulation.
- Engaged learning. The mini-game has a storyline and heroes. They need a child's help in solving tasks and problems. This way the child is engaged with the story and proceeded along with fewer distractions.
- Meaningful learning. When the mini-game makes a child creates connections with the things and concepts in the app and real-life reference. This is how learning with the app becomes meaningful.
- Social interaction happens if the education app supports remote teamwork to resolve the task. This way the child is encouraged to communicate and talk about it with parents and friends. That can be implemented via online games.
Recap: Developing children's mini-games take as much work as creating game apps for adults. But if you are striving to create an educational mini-game, include the learning aspects so your game.
E-learning apps for teachers and students: What's the difference?
No surprise here: students are the targeted audience of the e-learning apps. And teachers, in their turn, play an equally important role. They provide the content for the students to learn. So an online e learning app developed with different user flows and functionality.
The student user flow:
- Sign up/sign in: email, social media, Google account, phone number.
- Choose a subscription plan (if the app is paid).
- Search the course library and select the course(s). Or search for a teacher or a tutor.
- Start the learning process.
- Write questions to a course instructor. Or consult via video call or live chat.
- Complete assessment.
- Evaluate the teacher or tutor.
The teacher user flow:
- Sign up/Sign in via multiple options.
- Create a detailed teacher or tutor profile.
- Manage account settings.
- Create class schedules.
- Create and manage courses, quizzes, polls, assessments, grade books.
- Run class sessions, upload materials, share screen, and the like.
- Answer students’ questions and requests via video conference, live chat.
Unlike the Latin proverb "Tertium non datur", an e-learning app has the third user flow - an administrator. This role has to be in education app development for schools, colleges, universities, or for the business sector.
- Sign up and profile creating.
- Managing courses, teachers, and students.
- Setting up schedules, notifications for both students and teachers.
- Payment gateway management.
Recap: Students and teachers use the same e-learning app. However, they have varying features available and different user flows. Also, there is an administrator role to monitor and check the performance.
Homeschooling: Online e Learning apps for parents
What's the right pick: public education or homeschooling? These times show that homeschooling hasn't gone extinct. What's more, there are educational websites that offer online curriculums for homeschooling, educational websites, e-learning platforms.
So what are the most popular e-learning apps for homeschooling? Here is the big 5.
- Teachers Pay Teachers is a platform that provides learning materials uploaded by teachers and parents. Some materials are free, some require a one-time payment.
- Khan Academy is one of the most popular homeschooling apps that cover all school subjects.
- TEDEd provides video materials that cover many topics in numerous areas. The child watches a video, does quizzes, and then discusses it.
- Time4Learning is a good tool for gamification of the homeschooling process. The platform offers games that cover reading, math, science, and social studies skills.
Recap: Homeschooling takes advantage of online educational apps and websites. They heavily enhance parents' role in this uneasy process.
How to develop an e-learning platform?
In fact, the e-learning industry brags about its variety of apps, platforms, and marketplaces for an engaging all-inclusive learning experience. Above you got a quick review of software types, functions, and examples. Now it is your turn to take steps in building your e-learning platform. Here is a short list of actions for a good start:
- Do a market search. To be successful, your app should be relevant to the target audience.
- Check up the competitors. See what works, what doesn't work, and what feedback this gets.
- Draw a wireframe of your app. Think about the e-learning app design, features, and logic.
- Create educational content or partner with educators.
- Hire a development company to take on the technical part of building your online learning platform or app.
The online e-learning apps cover lots of educational aspects and enhance distance learning, homeschooling to employee skills upgrading. E-learning keeps on embracing technologies to make the educational process more engaging (i.e., AR/VR simulations, gamification, live instructor-led or tutor-led sessions.)
On the technical side, e-learning app development requires a bunch of roles like project management, UI/UX design, programming, content development. If you have an e-learning app idea, get in touch with the Apiko team to make it real.