Benefits & Must-Have Features of a Great Education App
App Builder Appy Pie, March 08, 2018: Would you be really surprised if we told you that the students of all ages are in love with their smartphones and spend a lot of time glued to it? Perhaps not! For just about everything from entertainment to socializing, from finding the coolest place in the neighborhood to booking movie tickets, the young generation is looking at mobile apps and are now even looking for apps that would help them learn and gain knowledge about the subjects they are interested in or are studying currently at school.
Mobile apps that had relevance only in the field of entertainment, gaming, and keeping life organized have begun panning out in other fields, especially the field of education and is emerging today as one of the most promising areas of app development. The recent upsurge in the number of education apps being developed has led to it becoming the 3rd most popular mobile app category.
The Education App Category might be a popular one, but it can further be sub-categorized into a number of heads including the ones that are targeted to cater to children at the pre-school or elementary school level. Apart from the age-based categories there are app sub-categories like language learning apps, remote tuition platforms, learning apps for adults, learning apps for the disabled, apps for specialized test preparation, and educational mobile apps for kids.
Significance of Mobile Apps in The Future Education System
There is a lot of buzz about the strong evolution that the education sector is going through and the most significant change is the way in which we are distributing, accessing, and consuming the educational material. The existing tools of the field had limitations and were proving to be a hurdle when it came to making education sector stand abreast the other fields that were evolving to become better, faster, and smarter. This is the time for the traditional educational system to accept the new age technological disruption and adapt itself in order to bring in an era of standardized knowledge which would then be available through the single point global distribution system. It can only be called a fortunate happenstance that a modern day mobile app has all the traits and the abilities to deliver a learning experience which is apt for the new generation of students.
Benefits of Using Education Mobile Apps
When was the last time you saw an 18-year-old without a smartphone in their hand, checking different apps every few seconds and engaging with a variety of content on them? I guess you don’t remember!
According to Pew Research, 96% of the Americans in the age group of 18-29 years own a smartphone. Guess what they are doing with it? Using it, duh!
This is exactly why having a mobile application is critical for universities and colleges alike. Of course you can simply convert a website into an app, but creating an app exclusively for your college or university has become an absolute necessity considering that is the best way to reach out to students who are already familiar with, and favor the medium.
Let’s delve deeper into the benefits of developing an education app.
#1 Students Love Apps
This is nothing new, we all know it! Children of all ages are almost inseparable from their (or their parents’) smartphones. Any new app, whether it is game, shopping, entertainment, or even a learning-based app is the coolest or hottest thing for them and they tend to explore it a lot more than their coursebooks. However, it is important that they dedicate enough time studying, completing their school work, and preparing for their exams. It is only natural that when this learning is combined intelligently with mobile apps, the students become a lot more responsive and their will and enthusiasm to learn is heightened exponentially. The concept of mobile learning is currently experiencing a great interest and enthusiasm among the students, teachers, parents, and the teaching institutions equally.
#2 Enhanced Interaction
Experts in the field of education have confessed that education apps have the potential to make the children a lot more interactive while paving way for much better engagement between the children and their parents. The best time for the parents to engage with the children is when they are in the process of using the education app. These apps have the potential to enhance the interaction tendency in children.
Apps made for toddlers and kids are highly engaging. They are mentally stimulating and fun to use. They are full of bright colors that children absolutely love and it can get them to pay better attention at apps. It’s easier for children to focus on an app than a school lecture.
#3 Smart & Systematic Learning
Education apps have the capability to impart to all users, smart & systematic learning. All the content on an education app would be organized and arranged neatly. This arrangement not only increases, among the students or any app users, a craving to learn more and more through the app but a craving to learn in a systematic manner. A well-designed app has a systematic arrangement that take the students through the app, and the content on it in a smooth, logical flow without the students consciously making any special efforts for the same. This inculcates in the students an urge and a habit to learn systematically.
#4 Round the Clock Availability
School and its learning resources are available to the students only for a limited number of hours, beyond which the students are more or less on their own. Mobile applications, however are available to all their users all round the clock and the users can consult them and resolve their queries as per their own whims & fancies. This effectively means that the students can access their classrooms at any time of the day, on any day. Learning through education apps is not time bound, which brings in a quotient of relaxation. When there is no limitation in terms of timing, the children have the scope to immerse themselves in the study material and get holistic learning in a multi-dimensional manner.
#5 Constructive Utilization of Leisure Hours
In their leisure hours children seem to engage in a lot of television viewing, surf the internet without much focus, or talk on the phone for way too long. These activities might have their golden moments, but largely do not add much value to the development of the child. When learning is just a tap away on their beloved smartphones, the leisure hours are used a lot more constructively learning new things through the education apps.
#6 Portability & Mobility
Mobile phones are just that – mobile & portable. You can carry them anywhere you go and can use them even on the go. The students or their parents can carry them in the pockets and use the education apps in any setting that the child feels comfortable in. hence, with education apps, learning is not confined to classroom spaces, homes, or any defined space, it goes with you wherever you go!
#7 Wider Demographics
It is oft believed that the education apps would only benefit the children and no one else! Nothing is farther from the truth, because the benefits of a good education app are extended to the teachers and parents as well! These apps may be used by the teachers within the classrooms, for an engaging experience. There are apps for teachers that help them plan the lessons in an effective manner. Learning through education apps helps the teachers and parents by giving them an avenue and platform to come together plan better interactive classes. A good education app brings the triad of students, teachers, and parents together towards a common goal – learning.
#8 Prompt Updates
Education apps provide valuable content for learning, but they bring more value than that. They can also help all the users stay updated with timetables, exam schedules, events, or any other pertinent information.
#9 Easy Tracking of Progress
Some education apps are enabled with features to track the children’s progress, which is something that every parent wants. The parents can keep a track on the way the app is helping their child better themselves as they learn and enhance their math, reading, or comprehension skills.
#10 Novel Methods of Learning
As children move from the traditional classroom setups to the wonders of mobile learning and education apps, they are exposed to new learning methods. There is a healthy gamification of course content which indulges the students in new ways of learning and helps them understand things from a whole new perspective.
Features of A Good Educational App
The ways of dispensing education and acquiring knowledge have gone through a paradigm shift, especially in the last decade or so. Online learning and digital education has assumed great importance and one of the prime proponents of this transformation is the new age education app for mobile devices.
With the advent of the education app, students have been afforded the flexibility, freedom, and responsibility to move out of the confines of a classroom and still continue learning in a convenient yet innovative manner.
While most of the education apps in the market tend to claim that their apps are optimized to offer the best learning experience, only a handful have truly been able to live up to the expectations of the users. Appy Pie has put together a list of features that are a must-have for a quality education app.
1) A Strong & Resourceful Database
You might have a tough time believing this, but a supportive database that is architecturally advanced, has the potential to reach the top of the charts. Since all the content related to the study material and guide is uploaded onto a database, there is a need to continuously update it with latest information, content, and other study materials including video and audio clip.
2) Comprehensive & Invaluable Content
Content is the king here. When you offer to your prospective users, content that would immediately arrest their attention, the chances of your mobile app being downloaded as opposed to numerous others increases manifold. Make sure that:
- The content is comprehensive and holds some value.
- The content is developed exclusively for the targeted users
- The language used is as simple as possible so that it is easily comprehended by all kinds of users.
- The content is mobile friendly too!
3) Live Tutorials Along with Interactive Sessions for Students with Tutors
An education app that offers interactive learning sessions for the students where they can interact with the teacher or tutor is bound to be appealing for the users. A live interactive session helps the students clear any doubts or answer any query that they might have on any given subject or a particular topic. Virtual classrooms with live tutorials and chat sessions with the tutors make an app a complete learning experience.
4) Provision for Regular Practice & Mock Tests
It is important to conduct timely tests so that the students understand their own level of preparation and their weaknesses. Upload some test papers and allow the users to download them and attempt answering them in a timed format. These test papers and mock tests are of great value to the users and boost the profits that you stand to earn from it.
5) Easy Login
The importance of logging in easily cannot be emphasized upon enough. This means that the user who downloads your app must be able to create their profile in minimum number of steps and with great ease! This can further be taken a notch up with a dashboard that helps the users save their preferences so that they can access relevant content with ease in future.
6) Strong User Interface
The user interface is of critical importance, even in an education app. If this aspect is not focused on, the app does not stand a fair chance in the competitive market. Make your app stand apart from the rest of the crowd with exemplary User Interface and evolved & trendy outlook with high functionality.
7) Make Use of The Social Network
In this era that thrives on the social media and where the common melting pot is the social network, an app that does not incorporate the social media, more or less sets itself up for failure. It is up to you to creatively put these tools at your disposal to their apt use and maximize their benefits. Post an update about new developments or announce the advent of new content on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. YouTube is a great place to have all your video tutorials in one place and make all your content easily accessible to your users in a mobile friendly format. This goes a long way in helping you expand your audience as well.
8) Push Notifications
This is the single most effective tool when it comes to the features in a mobile app. Push notifications help you stay connected to the users in a non-intrusive manner so that you can easily keep all the students updated about the latest events including class cancellations, event rescheduling, emergencies, or call for participation in special events and drives.
When your app is limited to providing content only in one language, understand how limited your audience becomes. Hence, providing learning content in multiple languages can effectively open new worlds for the proliferation of your app.
10) Progress Tracking & Achievements
Being able to see your or your children’s achievements and to be able to track the progress within the app proves to be quite a motivational tool. When a child is able to see how far they have come in their journey within the app, they get a boost in their self-esteem even as they gain some bragging rights!
11) Save time and costs
An app can actually take over the responsibilities of multiple employees. The most apt example here would be the human resource department. If you can make sure that your mobile app has all possible information on it, you would not need a massive human resource department to respond to those queries. This means that no one has to spend hours chained to a desk or rifling through records and paperwork to give a suitable answer to the queue of students lining up at their counter. The lesser the number of employees needed, lesser would be the costs!
Various Observations on Educational Apps
Various researches have been done on educational apps. Here’s what they have observed.
- Apps Appear to Promote Literacy in Young Children
- “A Microcosm of an Optimal Learning Experience”
- the tacit process of figuring out the game and how to make it work for them
- the gradual mastery of more explicit learning tasks embedded in the game narrative
- applying skills they learn to other levels or types of play.
- It Comes Down to Keeping Their Attention
- Developmentally Appropriate Content: The content of the app has to match the learning ability of the child. The study revealed that if a child found the content too difficult or too easy, interest was rapidly lost.
- Fresh, Dynamic Content: The game shouldn’t end once a particular goal has been achieved. Providing different levels and goals engaged children for longer time periods.
- Wait Times: Children got bored or impatient if they had to wait for content.
- Humor: Children sought out activities that made them laugh and tended to stay engaged in those activities for longer periods.
- Incentives and Goals: Collecting prizes or badges appeared to motivate the children to continue playing the app. The kids also enjoyed telling others about their high scores.
- Parental involvement: Having a parent as a playmate motivated children to keep on playing. Not only can parents or adults explain the app to the children, but playing together helps reinforce how the learning relates to activities outside of the app.
The first major observation is pretty obvious. Many apps for children have significantly helped promote literacy in young children. The ‘Martha Speaks’ application showed promise in helping children improve their language skills. Designed for children ages four to seven, the app introduces new words and vocabulary using three mini-games and a quiz. The study monitored children’s use of the app and ultimately reported significant educational gains in each age group. Five to seven-year-olds in particular saw a 20% increase in relevant language skills after they used the app.
The Super Why app also appeared to promote literacy skills, especially in younger children. The sample group of children ages three to six were given a test: 20 questions that involve letter sounds, rhyming, sentence completion, and visual and verbal vocabulary. The study found the app helped young children make significant gains in these language learning areas. Three-year-olds especially benefited from the exercise.
The Michael Cohen Group, a research team dedicated to studying education, child development, and growing societal trends, also looked into learning through apps. They observed that children’s learning through app play takes several forms:
Ultimately, researchers found that in addition to lessons built into the app children derive other educational benefits from playtime. For example, in a literacy game, children may expand their vocabulary, but meanwhile, interacting with the app they are also improving their motor and exploration skills.
MCG concluded that “this mode of interactive learning offers a microcosm of an optimal learning experience that involves active exploration, construction of solutions and learning explicit content.”
The biggest challenge that both parents and educational institutions face when it comes to teaching their kids is dealing with a young child’s short attention span. Interestingly, both studies identified attention span as one of the main barriers to successful learning through apps. Bottom line: the longer the app holds the child’s attention, the likelier it is to help them learn.
After monitoring the use of educational apps, both studies isolated six key criteria that contribute to holding the attention span of youngsters:
Creating an app for a school, college, or university is not really just a fancy thing anymore, it is a necessity. Not only does it help the educational institutes reach out to the students and indicate that they are aware of their requirements and preferences, but also simplifies the operations of their various departments.
However, many institutes refrain from going the mobile app way due to a number of reasons. It could be because of the costs attached to it, the complexity of the process, and their general lack of ability to do it in-house.