Today, as the world is still fighting the COVID pandemic, e-learning is more relevant than ever. As of January 2021, almost 60% of the world population has access to the internet through their mobiles or computers, and therefore access to any of the hundreds of educational platforms and apps out there. The educational technology (Edtech) industry is booming and the competition is fierce, making edtech app development even more challenging. What are some of the Edtech challenges startups and companies face while developing their products?
Edtech – Tradition vs. New-age learning
Let us first define – What is Edtech? Edtech – or, Education Technology – refers to the practice of introducing or developing technological tools for the purpose of education. This can mean anything from simply digitizing textbooks, online courses on any imaginable topic, helping students and teachers navigate the online classroom, to personalized Edtech apps and platforms suited to the user’s needs. Edtech offers numerous advantages compared to traditional learning methods, such as:
Whether it is choosing their own time for studying or choosing the way they wish to learn things (e.g. textual vs. audio-visual), students have the luxury of choice which is not present in the traditional classroom.
Cost Savings Potential
Edtech products only require you to have a laptop or a phone and access to the internet. No more need for physical space or out-of-date textbooks. No need to move to a different city to attend university when you can attend classes online. The COVID pandemic has at least taught us that this is a perfectly viable option for off-site students.
Access to Education
Students are no longer limited by the choice of educational institutions in their vicinity. They no longer need to comb through books to get an answer to a simple question. Information is just a click away!
An overview of the edtech industry would show that we’ve barely scratched the surface on what Edtech is capable of doing and the full plethora of advantages it offers. However, creating an app that works well but also monetizes is not a simple undertaking. Let’s take a look at some of the challenges faced by Edtech app developers.
Lack of Teacher Input
A lot of the educational apps and platforms are created to either replace the teacher or to help the teacher deliver the lessons through a digital medium. Unfortunately, many developers will not collaborate with teachers or use their feedback while developing their app. This results in distrust and eventually no interest by educational institutions and teachers in incorporating the new technology, leading to a failed product. Edtech products should be made in such a way that teachers are not confused and constantly trying to decipher how they work, because ultimately, they are supposed to make their job easier and allow them to actually focus their time on the students and their needs.
While there is space for creativity and innovation in the edtech industry, if you add on too many features and confuse your users – it won’t matter how new and original your app is. It’s also important to know exactly who your target audience is and design with them in mind. For example, if the app is aimed at children, it should be easy to understand and navigate, but also fun and playful. Striking that balance is, of course, not easy. That’s why edtech app testing is crucial in determining the success or failure of the app design.
In the starting months of the COVID pandemic last year, a lot of people had so much time on their hands they suddenly had to fill somehow. Many decided they wanted to use that time productively, like – by learning a new language, or starting that programming course they always wanted to do, taking up a musical instrument etc. So they download an app and, starting out, they’re usually super motivated and committed, and user engagement is high. However, soon the initial excitement and curiosity fades and motivation dissipates, and user engagement drops. Concepts like “gamification” are used by professional edtech development teams to create apps which maximise user engagement and retention.
Monetizing edtech apps has proven to be extremely difficult, even for the best edtech apps like Duolingo. You can make a fun, great learning app, but not everyone will want to pay for it. Finding initial investors for Edtech development also has its challenges. Since this is not the type of product which can show immediate results or one whose educational value can be easily and quickly measured, investors are reluctant to put their money into Edtech professional development. It’s important to find the right way for users to pay for your EdTech services and make them feel like their money has been well spent.
The Future of Edtech
While the edtech approach to learning still has its disadvantages, technological developments and innovation will undoubtedly continue to improve many aspects of Edtech products, making them even more accessible, immersive, and relevant. New technologies will also pose new challenges for Edtech app development, bringing about new and innovative solutions. Ultimately, those who manage to find ways to improve education quality, reduce costs, and make a meaningful impact will prove to be the most successful players in the Edtech industry.