As tech solutions gain more competitive importance across various industries, software projects are becoming larger, involving more aspects of a business, and therefore in a greater need of neat organization. Unfortunately, IT projects often go astray in terms of money, time, and value from what was initially expected due to the lack of analysis and thorough planning on the initial stages of project development.
According to the recent study by McKinsley and the University of Oxford, 45% of initiatives go beyond their budget, while only 7% exceed the set time frames. Without careful planning and analysis, 17% of IT ventures turn out so bad that they endanger the very existence of an organization.
Companies that successfully handle all the challenges of custom software development are the ones that start right from the beginning, aligning their goals and business value with technology in a thorough and detailed plan. To help business owners avoid pitfalls and complete their projects according to the previously specified requirements, the in-depth research is vital right at the beginning.
Our cases prove that the analysis efforts made before the start of the project are fundamental in foreseeing possible risks and completing all the milestones on time and within budget. In this blog post we will share how we started one of our recent e-learning marketplace projects - Tutor House, what steps our team took to initiate the development, and how we set and achieved the desired goals.
Discover more about:
- Education During the Pandemic and Beyond
- The Beginning of Tutor House: E-Learning App Development in Times of Covid
- How to Build an Online Learning Marketplace: Turning an Idea into a Plan of Actions
- Tutor House eLearning Platform: The Tasks before Apiko Technical Team
- E-Learning App Development: Where Should You Start?
Education During the Pandemic and Beyond
With the development of fundamental lifestyle changes and the adoption of new reality conditions, such as coronavirus, lockdowns, and digitalization, it became impossible for companies and businesses to function as they have before. The education sector could not simply be left untouched.
History hasn’t known a larger disruption of education systems as it was during COVID-19. According to the United Nations report, the pandemic affected nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries and all continents. With school and other learning spaces’ closures, 94% of the world’s student population become involved.
The major goal for governments all over the world was to ensure learning continuity, which meant for teachers and students exchanging their usual area of activities for information and communications technology to ensure effective lessons’ delivery.
The shift to distance learning opened new opportunities for education institutions to expand their flexible learning processes and pave the way for the increased adoption of online learning in the near future. Sustainable solutions should reflect learners’ best experiences and foster continuity of education with the use of technology.
Online Learning Marketplace Platforms: Industry Shakeup
Online learning as well as e-learning digital solutions were in high demand even prior to the Covid-19. Sooner, Research and Markets forecasted the market to be worth $350 Billion by 2025, and with the present development of events, the number will only grow.
As a survey of college students after the spring semester in 2020 showed, 43% of students who took part in traditional face-to-face classroom courses had never taken an online class before the pandemic, 21% had only been engaged in one online class, and 35% had taken two or more classes.
While asking 1,500 online student respondents in 2019, it was found that top reasons why students enrolled in online classes were the affordability of the course, the reputation of the school/program, and how a program helps to acquire a degree in the fastest way possible.
The demand for e-learning platforms has immensely increased during the Covid-19. As teaching and learning are digitizing, opportunities for growth only increase at an accelerated pace:
- From the middle of March to the middle of April, the searches for online educational activities have increased by over 100% globally, according to the Google trends.
- The online learning market registered a major spike by 36. 3%, as students and teachers massively started to adopt e-learning technologies to keep learning and education alive in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
- The ClassCentral report stated that the MOOC platforms experienced unparalleled growth during the pandemic. Out of all the learners that ever registered on the e-learning app, one third did so in 2020.
There are already lots of valuable and useful online learning marketplaces available. The resources such as Udemy, Coursera, Futurelearn, Skillshare, Preply and others serve millions of learners across the globe and have already proven to be indispensable.
Online learning continues to be a great catalyst for change in the educational paradigm helping companies and individuals embrace new ways in which technology can meet their learning needs. One of such innovative tech solutions is Tutor House - one of our recent e-learning projects.
Let’s take a closer look at how the development of this online learning software has started, what idea was behind it and what steps were taken to bring it to life.
The Beginning of Tutor House: E-Learning App Development in Times of Covid
The time has come for businesses to adapt strategies, rethink the existing workflows, and come up with new ways on how best to provide their services in the context of new normal. In the period such as this, an educational company has reached Apiko to bring to life a series of changes and improvements that would reinforce Tutor House online learning platform and meet the needs of their customers more efficiently.
Tutor House is one of the leading tutoring platforms in the UK that delivers tailored private lessons to learners in different parts of the world. The online learning marketplace platform helps you find expert tutors and take online or in-person classes in maths, biology, physics, foreign languages and other much needed subjects.
It started only as a UK e-learning marketplace platform, but has already expanded its horizons worldwide as well as the list of its services, which now includes homeschooling, course revision or retaking, adult learning and more.
What makes the Tutor House project special?
- Handpicked tutors. Trusted by thousands of students, the online learning platform management team is meticulous about their tutors and accepts only the top 20% of applicants.
- Matching algorithm. To make sure students get the tutor they like and want to continue having lessons with, the e-learning platform offers a matching algorithm. By completing a 3-step application form, specifying the budget, interests, availability and requirements, students will ensure only their best matches contact them.
- Free trial calls and discounts. With a free 15-minute trial call on the platform, students can see if their potential tutors are the best fit before they make any commitments. After the free call, students either book discounted package lessons with that tutor, learn one class at a time, or choose to change their teacher.
So how did it all start? Read on.
How to Build an Online Learning Marketplace: Turning an Idea into a Plan of Actions
Alex Dyer, a founder and CEO at TutorHouse, being dissatisfied with the state of education, after 8 years of teaching, left his job as the Head of Psychology in the hope of bringing innovation and personalization to the classroom.
In 2013, he set on the road to building an e-learning marketplace platform that would give all students the chance to access top quality tutors and individualized education.
The goal was to make learning available and accessible, so that every student could reach his full academic potential.
Alex Dyer launched this project 6 years ago. The first steps were to bring onboard expert tutors and teachers from his social circle, to find out what his customers need and expect from the lessons, and whether they reach their goals in the process of learning.
In 2016, Tutor House finally released an online automated platform. They employed 4 full time developers to make the e-learning platform appear on time, with customized functionality and easy-to-use layout. However it was very difficult for the Tutor House team to manage the project schedule, development, time frames, and any changes.
What they found out is that it’s better to outsource their needs to a specialized company that would carry out all the aspects of software development: not only the programming, but also other aspects of the project such as business analysis, QA testing, and project management.
Their search for a reliable partner with enough expertise and experience to cover all the complexities of the e-learning platform development process, led them to our company - Apiko.
That’s how we started to cooperate with Tutor House, carefully examine their e-learning platform, and search for ways of its improvement.
Tutor House eLearning Platform Development: The Tasks before Apiko Technical Team
At the beginning of every project, the main goal is to get a well-rounded and in-depth understanding of the project objectives. The client and the project manager work closely together to collect functional and non-functional requirements, choose the most appropriate tech stack, estimate the budget and plan the project development process.
Ensuring that everyone on the team is 100% on the same page is a top priority. In that way, ideas are developed most efficiently and cost-effectively. Our experience as a software development company proves that the fundamental research made before the start of the project and noted down helps to create a clear plan and complete all the milestones on time and within budget.
Who should be involved in the initial stages of the project?
The initial stages lay the foundation for the whole project development process therefore participants from both the customer’s and vendor’s sides have to work closely together to identify obligations and plan of actions. Usually, the team from the vendor side consists of the following specialists, however it can vary depending on the client’s needs:
- Project Manager, who oversees and manages the development, plans deliverables, and makes sure that entire process is transparent to the client;
- Business Analyst, who is in charge of gathering requirements, creating a Software Requirements Specification (SRS) document, and making sure that no detail is missed;
- Tech Consultant, who advises on the most appropriate tech stack for the project;
Where did we start?
When the Tutor House project turned to Apiko, we carefully studied the product and business idea behind it, elicited the requirements, and created the project development schedule. Our client’s previous in-house team focused heavily on the technical part, so our job was to analyze the product from the business side and define the best scope of work for its improvement.
Our tasks for the project were:
- Perform the backend refactoring to make sure the workflow of the e-learning platform provides users with seamless and hassle-free experience.
- Run the website audit, source code refactoring and bug fixing to improve the existing structure of the software.
- Optimize the website performance by extending its functionality, adding advanced features for better effectiveness of the e-learning process.
- Manage the Stripe payment system integration and develop a complex coupon system with discounts for lessons
- Deliver the flawless integration of various tools into an educational marketplace. Add Hubspot, Twilio, and Drip integrations among others to be able to run email marketing campaigns, enable group chats, use a whiteboard on the platform, set up push and email notifications, and reorganize the booking process to increase conversion rate.
- Bridge the gap between technical and business sides of the elearning marketplace project
We’ve been provided with the following input data:
- An existing, functioning website that we audited for bugs and any weak points to fix with custom solutions
- The source code of the backend which was in a critical need of expert assistance and refactoring services of specialists
- The list of fundamental and additional features for our team to investigate and develop
Research & Analysis
Our team took the following steps to take on an elearning app development project and ensure reaching the end-goal:
- Examining the product and requirements to get a deep understanding of the niche, end-users, and best standards of e-learning apps
- Doing the research for the best tech stack, tools and integrations to cover Tutor House needs in the most efficient way
- Outlining the project’s scope, tasks, and project schedule of the e-learning marketplace development process with estimates and timeline
Read more about Tutor House in an interview with its founder and CEO, Alex Dyer.
What have we achieved?
The Tutor House case study is a great example of how our team handles software development projects and does its best to deliver professional services in online learning marketplace development, website audit, bug fixing, code refactoring, and extending the platform functionality with new features and advanced integrations.
The Apiko technical team made numerous improvements to provide a high-impact sustainable platform that is ready to meet the growing needs of learners and tutors over time. Today, Tutor House is a leading UK e-learning platform with a satisfying and elaborate user flow that continues to gather more admirers among the conscious and ambitious students.
How does the online learning marketplace work?
- Browse all tutors or match me with a tutor
Learners can either use the filters on the e-learning platform to search for the best fit for their needs or use the platform’s algorithm to get matched with suitable tutors.
- Book a free trial call
The functionality of the e-learning platform which Apiko implemented allows tutor and students to book the specific time and meet online for a 15 minute trial call via built-in rooms with a whiteboard. If the trial call goes well, the student can book lessons for a particular time with the chosen tutor. Messages as well as notifications are also available on the platform to clarify all the questions learners and teachers may have.
- Book lessons
The technical team refined the booking system on the platform, so now, when learners select time and dates and tutors confirm them on their personal dashboards, students are offered discounts for booking 10 lessons or more.
- Pay for lessons
With a Stripe payment integration, paying for lessons on the online learning platform is secure and hassle-free. Learners can also get and apply discount codes, buy in bulk for package deal offers, or pay for one lesson at a time.
- Get lesson feedback and leave a review
After the lessons, teachers leave their feedback with tips, advice and areas to work on for next time, while students are asked to leave their review for their tutors to boost the ratings and gain credibility.
To discover more about the project, read our detailed Tutor House case study here.
E-Learning App Development: Where Should You Start
While the world is speedily moving online, the need for high-quality IT projects grows as well. Companies can maximize the value their software products deliver to end-users by mastering the fundamental aspects of project development:
- Concentrating on a comprehensive project management strategy rather than paying attention only to budget and schedules
- Securing top internal and external talent for different needs of the product, and creating efficient teams to achieve the overall goals
- Making sure everyone is on the same page, has in-depth understanding of the business idea behind the project and the requirements by means of a thorough analysis
If you need any help in building your own elearning marketplace, don’t hesitate to contact our team!