Educational App Development Complete Guide and Ideas

Devox Software Team

What can we say of digitization? It has opened the door to an era of highly flexible education and caused a remote work boom. It has proved that almost every process can be digitized, and education was one of the most successful cases of it. 

The education market is one of the most stable and promising, even during tough times. Global Market Insights report predicts 20% growth in the following years, from 2022 to 2028. Impressive, isn’t it?

Stable growth rates of the education economy sector are ensured with emerging homeschooling and partially remote school and university education, growing number of jobs in digital and people migrations. 

Wondering how to make a learning app? Do not hesitate to take the next step towards benefiting from the edtech sector and study this guide on educational app development from Devox Software.  In this guide, we will share our experience with mobile educational  software and walk you through the recent trends in digital education.

  1. Types of Educational Apps
  2. Education App Trends in 2023
  3. Key Features of Educational Apps
  4. Things to Consider Before the Educational App Development
  5. How to Make a Learning App: 5 Main Steps
  6. EdTech Development Cost
  7. Choose Devox Software to Develop An Educational App

Types of Educational Apps

To start with, we encourage you to check our recent edtech trends overview.  

There are a lot of types of educational software applications to choose from. We will give the most popular examples worth considering when you have an idea for your educational product. 

First, we would split them into two groups: educational apps for kids and adults.

Learning apps for children 

They have a high level of gamification involvement, have simpler and brighter designs and customization opportunities, and require a shorter attention span. 

The examples are: 

Playbooks 

Interactive encyclopedias usually cover a particular subject, like the history of some country, animal species, or popular science topics. Designed as knowledge bases with page hierarchy, they may also include video and audio fragments and puzzles. 

There are also cross-linking articles that allow you to navigate across pages with info without returning to the main menu or navigation panel.   

The most famous example is the Playbook app which gave name to the whole type. There are also KOBI, Monster Math – Math Facts, and Spotlight on Literacy. 

Puzzles 

If you target a young audience in your app, you should consider the same old puzzles of different kinds. They do not need a special introduction. Although it is one of the most straightforward ideas to pursue, it would take a lot of work to compete with current market leaders and monetize your app. 

This type of app is the most similar to mobile games. 

The examples are apps that offer worldwide known Sudoku, Chess, and Block Puzzle experiences digitized and 2048 and Two Dots which are not that popular outside of the mobile applications world.  

Learning apps for adults 

Adults are generally more motivated when it comes to studying. When your goal is to create an app for teens or grown-ups, invest time investigating the closest competitors. It will pay off. 

Workbooks 

Standardized exams are among the most popular use cases for mobile learning apps. Those could be language or traffic rules exams and standard tests required for university enrollment, like GRE or GMAT. 

Of course, one may look for previous years’ questions on the web and solve them in a paper notebook, but an educational app with an automatic assessment feature would save them a lot of time. 

The examples are Mimo: Learn Coding, GMAT Prep & Practice, GMAT Math Flashcards, FCE Academy, and IELTS Vocabulary Flashcards. There are more of them, and they are pretty alike. However, the pool of exercises and prices vary.  

Simulators

This kind of app is one of the most difficult in terms of UX and implementation. It imitates actual processes from different areas of work. Examples of this type could be driving different vehicles, modeling architectural landscapes, or construction works.  

Examples are X-Plane Flight Simulator, Bridge Construction Sim, and Truck Simulator: Ultimate. 

Content portals

If you want to avoid tying your app to a particular sphere of knowledge, you can combine plenty of them within one platform. The platform could become a home for independent creators of educational content. They will upload their e-books or video courses and pay a placement fee to publish them in your app. It sounds like a great deal, isn’t it?   

The examples of this type are edX, Gurucan, and Udemy. 

With up-to-date technologies your app will become evergreen, and spark users’ interest even after years. Let us showcase the latest trends for you.

Trending Ideas for Self-Study Apps

Foreign languages

High-quality foreign language learning apps have never been in that demand. Stepping into the post-COVID era brought the boom of international traveling. 

This type of educational app was estimated at USD 18.2 billion, which is expected to grow to USD 32.5 billion by 2029 

Coding & Co 

People often choose to self-educate to get digital skills besides formal education. It helps to become more competitive in the modern world. Programming is predicted to become one of the essential tools shortly, just as digital literacy and fact-checking used to become in recent years. 

You do not need to limit your idea to teaching programming languages syntax. This could be something to do with SQL cheat sheets or Scrum framework simulators. They are not that common; however, they have great perspectives to emerge. 

Design, Fitness, Accounting, and so on

In other words, any other skill needed for in-demand jobs turned digital. You may object that one can learn such complex things in a mobile app, but let us explain. 

You do not need to commit your students to get that job immediately after completing your app’s training program. However, your app will help them master skills required pleasantly and effectively and leave a student with a “pocket Wikipedia” of necessary knowledge to refer to. 

  • For design, it could be learning color theory, graphic design principles, typography, and UX/UI elements. 
  • It could be human anatomy, metabolism, and nutrition basics in the fitness domain. Bodyweight or gym exercise techniques and healthy ratio principles are a good fit for such an educational app
  • Same for accounting, here you can start with an introduction to bookkeeping, its core principles, and industry-specific hints.

You can apply the same approach to nearly any in-demand hard skill that could be taught online. 

Make Your App Outstanding With the Latest Technologies

It is hard to predict which technologies will remain at peak and how many new ones will emerge in recent years. That is why our team analyzed them for you and picked the most perspective ones to showcase.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

AI is still getting up to speed in 2023. Duolingo pioneered successfully applying artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to the educational services market. They proved that AI has great potential in content personalization. The app that features AI spots users’ typical mistakes and offers them personalized exercise sets to practice. 

Machine learning is often applied together with AI and allows to minimize human involvement in creative tasks. Gartner predicts that machine learning will reach the peak in 5-10 years.  

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality also contributes to the e-learning market and is expected to grow even stronger there.   

Augmented Reality (AR) is a great tool when you need to show rather than describe something. With AR, your student can view 3D models 360° with the help of their smartphones’ cameras. This technology may be helpful when you teach something with a strong visual component.

If you choose to educate people about the history of art and architecture, you can fill your educational app with 3D models of famous buildings and sculptures.

If you are going to develop for learning nature for kids, you can picture AR animals or plants in their real-life size. Just the same approach that e-commerce uses for showcasing their products but for educational purposes. 

How could they be applied to your future app? Devox Software experts are eager to help you with a consultation on educational mobile app development

Key Features of Educational Apps

When you have learned about the topics and types of apps, it is time to look at the key features of educational mobile software.

Content players 

Your app may have different types of content, such as text, images, audio, and video. Think of caching and content storage. If your app has a mobile version, can it work offline?  Will your users be able to download large amounts of content on their devices?  

Calendar for planning 

If your app’s audience is adults, consider that they are usually busy with work and family. With the feature of calendar planning, you will help them plan their time for your course in a way that will maintain their motivation and help them keep pace. 

You can see how this is implemented in the Coursera app: you can set a final target date, and the system will calculate how many hours per week you would need to spend studying. Then you can break this amount by the number of times you want to spend studying. 

With this easy trick, you will support your audience in obtaining new skills and, at the same time, help yourself with maximizing audience retention rate. 

Assessments

Also, think of self-assessment tasks. You may set passage limits with established grades for each module or level and set. Think about how you will motivate your users to pass tests until they reach a desirable result.  

Gamification

Gamification in the educational app is not necessarily for kids. It encourages people to study no matter their age, which is why it grew so popular. In other words, it is not a game but a learning app with a game-inspired design. 

You may create daily or weekly quests with rewards for your users, leaderboards, or custom characters with unique personalities. For example, Duolingo has a team of characters involved in learning path storytelling. They give grammar advice, introduce new words and ask your help translating a phrase. 

Pieces of training  

It could be a unique tool built from scratch as well as a built-in third-party tool like Quizlet. It will help users to sharpen their knowledge with different formats of practice. 

Things to Consider Before the Educational App Development

Here is the list of important things to consider before you start:

Security 

When the student creates an account in your app, they provide such info as their name, email, or phone number. If requested, they may also provide location data, credit card, and education information. These are PII or Personally Identifiable Information. 

Once your database records feature this kind of data, you start playing with fire. You can learn more about the data to be protected in GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and then think about data anonymization, purge, and erasure on request (aka ‘right to be forgotten). 

You will need to protect your data and manage sensitive data that you get from third parties in alignment with their policies and government regulations.

Accessibility

The education sector has one of the strictest accessibility regulations you can imagine. To create an app for a formal educational institution, you must follow AA Level WCAG 2.1 rules.  

WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These regulations are created by keeping people with various disabilities in mind to make web content accessible. In early 2023, the 2.2 version of this standard will arrive.  

How to Make a Learning App: 5 Main Steps

Learning App creation follows the same software development lifecycle phases as any other software. There are five of them. Let us look at them one by one and accent your attention on educational app development specifics.

Discovery Phase

It is a key step that contributes to your product’s success. It consists of planning and analysis activities to help get a big-picture view of your future app. 

Process

Some people enter the discovery phase with a clear picture in mind. They understand their audience, know what features the app should have, and have the monetization plan on their minds. Other people do not have that detailed view but understand what they would like to teach. After the discovery phase is done, both of them have a plan for what to do next. 

Refer to our product discovery guide to get more insights and hints for this phase. There we explained core product discovery techniques and tools, provided advice on how to make the product more customer-oriented, and learned to avoid common mistakes. 

Remember that defining MVP (Minimum Viable Product) scope is crucially important. This will help you save time, avoid unnecessary waste, and launch your educational product earlier. 

Outcome

As a result of the product discovery phase, you will choose your niche and establish a product strategy. You will arrive at the draft of your future product through market research, competitor analysis, brainstorming, and feature list prioritization. 

Consider your time, budget, and human resources limitations. In further paragraphs, we will provide a rough estimate of educational app development costs. 

Design, UI/UX 

At this stage, you will choose how your future educational app design will look like. After you have answered the question of what it will be like, it is time to answer the question of how it will be built. 

Process

Who is your audience? 

  • If you target kids, simplify app design and navigation as much as possible and make it interactive. 
  • If you target school or university personnel, think of having multiple user roles and interfaces. 
  • For self-educating adults, consider progress monitoring and planning features as well as content sharing and clipping, allowing them to take notes elsewhere. 

After answering this question, consider how accessibility and security concerns are applicable to your app. 

Are security and accessibility planned by design? If not, ensure that during the design phase, they will be adopted. Adding them post-factum will significantly increase the cost of your app.    

Outcome

By the end of this phase, you will have user flow diagrams, low-fidelity prototypes, wireframes, user interfaces, and other design solutions documented. 

Prototyping and development

If educational app development is a body, prototyping and coding are the heart. At this step, you will build the app’s architecture and choose suitable technologies for its development according to your needs. 

Process

Ensure investing enough time in designing system architecture. After you get it documented, reach out to software engineering in order to choose the appropriate technology and development framework. 

First, you need to decide whether it will be native or hybrid mobile application or PWA (progressive web application). 

For this, you should know whether your app:

  • needs to be scalable
  • should work offline and allow downloading content to the user’s device 
  • needs to deliver push notifications 
  • is for Android or iOS
  • is going to be integrated with the device hardware 

Once you decide, it is time to form a development team. Contact us for a consultation if you need specialists in any of the necessary profiles. We will answer all your technical questions and give you an overview of how we may be helpful to you. 

That includes:

  • providing CTO as a service
  • forming offshore engineering, product, design, or QA teams 
  • filling positions of any specialist in your team, including software developers of any technical stack

You will need not only product and software development teams but also a team of experts working with educational apps’ content and methodology. Do not ever underestimate the content creation phase. 

Content-creators

If you want to deliver a high-quality full-cycle educational app, you will not only need to create content once but think of its constant improvement and personalization. Later, you will be able to involve AI, but for the initial theory blocks and exercise sets, you will need human experts.

Methodologists

In other words, it will be great if you hire people who know how to study effectively. Those people know how to master skills quickly and retain that knowledge longer. They will help you to build a balanced educational process with a gradually rising level of complexity. 

“But I have already hired skilled content creators,” you will say. Right, but even high-quality exercises may demotivate learners when not balanced well. 

People often abandon learning new skills after spotting an exercise that is too difficult for them. In real life, the teacher may assist them, but they are left all alone in educational apps. We encourage you to think about your students and help them learn the curriculum, and they will thank you with a higher course completion percentage.

Outcome

By the end of this phase, you will have all the code for the initial release in place. You will also have a product backlog with development tasks for the subsequent releases planned in a low level of detail.

Full-cycle testing & Integration 

During this phase, you will test your app quality and establish quality standards. This may include user acceptance testing and any other practices aimed at getting early feedback, both internal and external.  

Process 

Do not think your product is ready when the development phase is done. We agree that this milestone feels, but we encourage you to allocate enough time for the full-cycle testing phase.

Consider involving domain experts and a target audience in UAT (User Acceptance Testing) to get early feedback and improve your app. 

Also, consider A/B testing to determine which content or user interface element works better for your audience. 

Think of launching a landing page for your educational product and advertising it in digital media. Your approach to the target audience will be different depending on the type of app you choose. However, looking for volunteers for testing would be much easier if you worked on the product’s digital presence in advance.

Later on, you can launch bug bounty programs and reward users who contributed to improving the quality of your educational app with priority access to the new features or bonus coupons. 

Outcome

As a result you will improve app quality and get a pool of bugs to fix and feature/enhancement requests to be incorporated into the product roadmap.  

Launch and maintenance 

At this phase, you will prepare the necessary info for Play Market and App Store publication, set up payment information and monetization method, and surprise your users with an amazing educational app

Process

Congratulations, the most difficult steps are left behind. Now you need to deploy your app to production and let the first organic users enjoy it. 

Remember that before users may access your app, it should pass Google Play and App Store verification. It would be best if you prepared screenshots, promotional videos, an app description, and a short guide on how to use it. 

Also, mention the category or age of users you developed it, such as student, teacher, independent educator, kindergarten staff, administrative personnel, etc. 

This phase may include a period of beta testing for a particular group of users. For this, you can distribute your app via Testflight. 

Let us explain the monetization models available for the educational app

Freemium

A basic app configuration is free, and one can buy an extended version.

In-app purchases

In this monetization model, there is a free version of the app, but there is also a list of features that one can add for money.  

One-time purchase

These apps have only a paid version. 

Subscription-based model

These apps could also have free basic versions and offer subscription plans for unlocking premium features or extending limits.

Product placement 

In this case, the owner charges money from those who use their platform to introduce their content or services. Moreover, this type of user also may benefit from your app by earning money from users who pay to access this content. This works best for marketplace-type apps. 

Outcome

As a result, you will deliver your app to end users and receive the first payments through Play Market or Apple Store.

EdTech Development Cost

When you know what challenges you may face in educational app development, let us talk about what it may take from you. 

Here are some insights on how much does it cost to make an educational mobile app:

Choose Devox Software to Develop An Educational App

If you are reading this, it seems that you are still interested in developing an educational app. Good job because the earlier you deliver it, the more revenue it will bring to its prudent owner with current sector growth.   

In this article, our experts shared trending ideas, explained educational software challenges, provided time and budget estimates, and walked you through a step-by-step guide to launch an app in 2023. 

Devox Software engineers are ready to grow your educational app idea into high-tech software of any level of complexity. Fill in the form, and let’s discuss your idea.

Devox Software Team

Our marketing team consists of skilled content managers and creative designers. They highlight the latest topics in IT outsourcing and software development, do market research, analyze costs and programmer salaries.
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