How to Create a Custom Educational App [2022 Guide]
Why your business needs a custom educational app and how to build one
Introduction of digital technologies into education proceeds at a fast pace. Total global edtech expenditure is expected to reach a staggering $404B by 2025. As people use smartphones and tabletsmore often than PCs, the transition to mobile is becoming a trend the educational businesses can hardly ignore.
In this article, we will describe how to create an educational app and why you should do it.
You’ll also find out which features and trends to pay attention to, what tech stack your team will need, and how such a team will proceed with the development. Also, we will provide an educational app estimation time frame.
Advantages of creating a custom educational app
There are a number of reasons to make an educational app indispensable for a school, college, or university. As well as using predictive analytics, it can make a real difference. Here are the two main benefits:
Improved student retention
Employing an online education app can boost learners’ satisfaction and efficiency. Such applications provide:
Flexibility. With education apps, students have study materials at their fingertips, on their smartphones, or iPads 24/7. Therefore, they can learn whenever and wherever they want. The COVID-19 pandemic proved such an option to be really important. On top of it, students have far fewer books and papers to deal with.
Easy access to information about the educational process. Updated schedules of courses and educational events are always available. Push notifications won’t let students miss a lesson or a deadline.
Personalized learning. Teachers can’t guide each student in classrooms individually. Education apps can employ AI algorithms to personalize learning. Moreover, they provide an extra opportunity for educators and learners to communicate.
The incentive for regular studying. Advanced education apps urge students to study in a systematic way. For instance, they may offer some virtual bonuses for completing tasks or quizzes each day. It can help them to achieve better results.
More engaged and successful students mean fewer dropouts and a better reputation for educational businesses. That, in the long run, results in lower acquisition costs and higher revenues.
Also, educational apps can boost the satisfaction of students’ parents, who, in the case of younger students such as preschoolers, decide where their children will study. Aside from noticing the value of such tools for their kids, the adults can keep in touch with teachers, watch their children’s progress, and make payments easily. Thus, they tend to stay with a particular school longer.
Reduced teaching staff turnover
High rates of teachers’ turnover pose a problem for an educational business. Finding new teachers requires time and cost. The 2021 survey in the US found out that nearly one-quarter of teachers wanted to leave their jobs at the end of the school year. Even if not all of them put their plans to quit into action, their job satisfaction will remain quite low, which can be detrimental to students’ success.
Educational apps assist in solving the problem, offering some benefits for teachers. The more advanced custom solutions make teaching more convenient. Such tools can:
Make logging and tracking students’ attendance and progress easier
Provide a hassle-free way to share learning materials (text, video, audio) and assign tasks
Arm teachers with ways to attract and hold students’ attention (game-based elements, for instance)
Assist in class scheduling, fitting courses with special requirements in neatly
Offer extra channels for communication with students and their parents
Assisted by the new software, teachers become more effective and satisfied with their jobs. Consequently, they are less likely to leave in search of new employment. Thus, the resources spent on education mobile app development are put to good use.
Main features for an e-learning app
Such software products come in all shapes and sizes. Therefore, the list of desired features you compile in the process of e-learning app development may be quite long and versatile. Still, there are some core features you should pay attention to. The list below is compiled from our experience.
Sign up and onboarding
This feature is an absolute must for your app. Try to make signing in easier by allowing users to log in via Google or social media accounts. They will be grateful for not having to fill in all the personal details manually or remembering their passwords. Make sure your app has the ‘Forgot password’ option. You may also provide some brief information about the app and how to use it.
Each user, a student or a teacher alike, should have the section to specify their personal information. Educators may put their degrees and experience on display. Users should be able to see their courses, learning progress, etc.
Provide students with an easy way to browse through the list of courses. Each course should have a brief description, specifying its difficulty and program. Allowing users to read the reviews of graduates about each course would also be a sensible thing to do. If you plan to include paid courses, you will definitely need the ‘Buy’ button.
Educators should be able to manage their students effectively. Provide them with a list of learners and their personal details. Also, the tutor needs to mark the progress of each student by logging grades.
The teachers should be able to upload various types of learning materials, including video and audio as well as text and images. Including live streaming options may take more time and resources but will pay off in the long run.
Make the process of paying for tuition as effortless as possible. Ensure you use a secure payment gateway to make the transaction safe. Allow students or their parents to pin a particular credit card. The option to automate payments and make them regular can also come in handy.
Both students and teachers should be able to check their schedules easily. The latter will also need an option to add their lessons and courses to the schedule. Teachers at large universities and colleges with lots of classrooms and courses will appreciate assistance from an AI to find a suitable free time slot and location.
Adding options allowing users to compete, interact with other people, and make their achievements known will make the learning process more engaging. Leaderboards, for instance, offer a clear goal for learners to strive for. Sharing their achievements on social media can increase their satisfaction and commitment. Chats boost communications between teachers, students, and their parents, making discussions and group work easier.
Quizzes and tests
Provide teachers with ways to test their students quickly and easily. Also, think about adding some self-testing options. It will help learners to memorize new material and prepare for the exams.
Both students and teachers will appreciate notifications about course updates, assigned tasks, an upcoming educational event or training. Thus, they won’t miss anything important. Reminders about upcoming payments will also come in handy. Also, school administrations should be able to send some urgent messages to their staff, students, and parents.
How to build an educational app: the key steps
Developing an educational app is a complex process, which has several main stages:
Discovery. Educational apps are quite a broad category. Firstly, you should develop a clear concept of your future product. Analyze the needs of your business, your potential users as well as available solutions. Take your time to determine the best practices. Transform your findings into the list of key requirements and high-level features.
UI/UX design and prototyping. Creating a perfect product from the first try is rarely possible. Once the idea is quite clear in your head, put it to a quick test. Create a user interface and put together a prototype. Choose only core features to save time and cost. Test the prototype with intended users to find areas for improvement. Make sure that your educational app design works well for all categories of users.
Development. At this stage, your ideas, research, and prototype testing results are put into code. A database is selected to store information about user and course profiles, learning materials, curriculum, etc. The selected features are shaped and fine-tuned. Keep in touch with the engineers to decide on how exactly to fit your ideas into the new app.
Quality assurance. Run some tests before deploying your app. For instance, you should stress-test the server component to make sure the sudden influx of users won’t ‘break’ your app. Check whether all features work as intended. Automated tests can make this work easier.
The tech stack for educational app: the main tools
If you partner with an educational app development company, such a Menklab, you won’t have to worry about choosing the right instruments for the job. However, we’d like to introduce you to some basic tools you might need. The list may vary depending on the exact specifications. Here is the tech stack we’d recommend using if you want to create an educational app.
Kotlin is a programming language popular in Android development. According to Google, 70% of the top 1,000 apps on the Google Play Store use it. Kotlin allows engineers to create a safer code. The apps using Kotlin are 20% less likely to crash. It is interoperable with the Java programming language, so you can choose how much Kotlin to use. Its coroutines make common tasks like database updates quite simple.
Swift is a fast and powerful programming language for iOS and iPadOS. It was designed to be memory-safe and type-safe, ensuring the stable performance of apps. The apps built with Swift are easy to maintain. They also provide a better user experience by requiring less time for installation and less on-device memory.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a great choice if you are looking for a cloud platform to ensure scalability. Using it will help you to achieve a balance between the project costs and the workload.
MySQL and PostgreSQL are often chosen for database management. If you expect your users to be from various countries all over the world, look for a content delivery network (CDN). It uses servers in different locations to speed up the delivery of data to users. If you decide to use AWS, check out its CDN, the AWS Cloudfront.
How much does it cost to develop an educational app?
Anyone starting such a complex project will want to do the math first to assess the budget. The cost may vary considerably depending on the project. The most obvious factor is the number of features and their complexity.
For instance, to add some animation, you’d need extra time and money. Also, cross-platform development or the development both for iOS and Android will cost you more than creating an app for just one platform.
Another important factor is the location of your development team. The average hourly rates of developers in the US are about two times higher than those of their colleagues in Eastern Europe or South Asia. Therefore, you might want to consider outsourcing the development of your app.
Taking all this into account, naming any cost as a benchmark would serve little practical purpose. The differences between apps can be quite large. If you have some project in mind, please, contact us, and we will discuss it and provide you with a quote tailored to your requirements.
However, we’ve compiled an approximate time-frame of educational app development to give you a general idea about the scope of such a project:
Who should be on your development team
Custom education development requires a team of professionals. Usually it unites the following specialists:
Business Analyst, forming the project’s vision. Business intelligence has to be an indispensable part of any educational business. In the case of e-learning app development, the task of a business analyst is to provide stakeholders’ ideas with a solid business foundation. The analyst makes sure that your organization will benefit from the software you are about to build.
Project Manager, guiding the development process. Armed with the knowledge of the industry's best practices, this specialist will look for the technical solutions most suitable for your needs.
Developers, wielding the tech stack to create apps for iOS and Android, or both.
Designers, creating the interface of your app. Both graphic designers and UX/UI experts will be required to make it both concise and visually attractive.
QA engineers who meticulously test your app to find any weak spots that need the developers’ attention.
Why choose Menklab to create an educational app for you?
Menklab has been developing custom software solutions since 2013. During these years, we’ve accumulated valuable experience working in many industries. In particular, we’ve completed numerous education software solutions, including education apps. One of the most vivid projects in our portfolio, Nurture, the preschool communication and management platform, features an Android app for parents and iOS apps for teachers and parents.
Nurture allows parents to enroll the children, specifying their personal information. The individual page of each child logs mood, naps, curriculum, meals, behavior, and other data. Caregivers can also share photos and videos of kids with their parents via the apps.
Moreover, parents can watch live streams of their children. An average customer of the platform has 30+ locations with 20 streams for each. One hundred parents can watch camera feeds at the same time. We used a cloud-based hosting solution to ensure the smooth operation of live streaming.
Nurture uses face-recognition technologies to provide security monitoring. The platform analyses camera feeds from the kindergartens’ premises, finding each child in an eyeblink. Also, the platform offers extra emergency communication channels.
At present, the platform is used in more than 30 countries. The educational business, using Nurture, was able to open two extra schools each year. More than 5% of topline revenue was saved as customer retention improved, while the education process and operations management became more efficient.
The main trends in educational apps development
Before starting to create your e-learning app, make sure to study the popular trends in this industry. Following those trends early will take you to the front of the pack on the market.
Educational apps strive to keep the attention of their users, as well as games. Still, playing seems to be more exciting than studying. Using game-based elements boosts the engagement of students as well as the effectiveness of the learning process. Levels, points, leaderboards, badges, virtual currencies, etc., provide a vivid representation of the learning progress and urge users to compete with each other. Moreover, gamification of your apps doesn’t necessarily require a large amount of investment.
Virtual Reality (VR)
VR allows students to interact remotely in three-dimensional space and develop a wide variety of skills. The learners become much more engaged and immersed in the learning process. This tech can attract the attention of wider audiences such as game lovers. On top of it, three-dimensional representation can boost the efficiency of studying in some areas, for instance, anatomy. Note, however, that VR tech requires complex development solutions and, consequently, extra costs.
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR is similar to VR in its potential for educational apps. The transformation of real-life experience via new technology can make exploring celestial objects, for instance, much more vivid and exciting. Nonetheless, it’s up to you to decide whether AR integration is worth extra time and money for hiring highly qualified specialists.
The use of AI has become more widespread in many industries, and education is not an exception. Smart algorithms that assess the user’s abilities and learning styles foster personalized learning. Introducing such technologies is costly, but they will bring your app to a whole new level. Offering a unique approach to each student without hiring extra teachers might be an advantage worth having.
In the modern world, people tend to consume information in smaller increments. Pay attention to the growing popularity of Instagram Stories and Tiktok, which feature short videos. Large complex texts and long monotonous educational videos are becoming ineffective. Provide educators with the ability to use short videos, texts, and infographics. Thus, learners will deal with large chunks of knowledge, one small piece at a time.
Let’s build your custom education app together!
E-learning apps can make educational businesses more successful, andhe students will appreciate the ability to study on the go. Creatively designed apps will keep them both well-informed and engaged, therefore theuccessful students stay with schools or online platforms longer and help to build their reputation. At the same time, teachers become more effective and satisfied with their jobs. All in all, using education apps ultimately results in lower expenses and higher revenues.
Creating a custom e-learning application is a complex task, which requires a dedicated team of professionals. We at Menklab have such a team. Armed with state-of-the-art tech, our engineers will build just the app you need. Contact us to share your ideas, and we will do our best to help!