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How to Develop an Educational App: From Idea to End-Product

Yuliia Podorozhko
Market Researcher

What memories do you have of your school days? There is a teacher who explains ideas and introduces facts to the classroom. Some students sit and listen to their teacher carefully, some are killing time and waiting for the bell to ring. The learning materials are textbooks or printouts. 

Step by step, digital technologies were integrated into teaching, learning, and assessment processes in schools. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this process, and brought a dramatic shift to e-learning — amid lockdowns, schools and universities worldwide had to switch to e-learning models. Meanwhile, adults started to download educational apps to stave off boredom at home and spend time productively.

Do you have a rocking idea that will simplify distance learning for schools, help adults achieve new educational goals, or enhance toddlers and preschoolers’ intellectual development? Be sure to tell the world about it. Education in a post-COVID world needs fresh solutions.

At MadAppGang, we’re convinced that it’s the best time to bring your EdTech idea to life! Since 2020, learning apps are in high demand and according to business forecasts, this demand will increase even more in the next few years. Use this period to bring your product to the market quickly and hit the rising EdTech wave. 

Education app market overview

During the first quarter of 2020, the number of educational app downloads skyrocketed worldwide. The App Store, for instance, reported 470 million educational app downloads and Google Play stated 466 million learning apps were downloaded from its platform. This was the highest level of educational app downloads of all time for both platforms. The most popular products were Google Classroom and YouTube Kids. Though, hundreds of startups didn't miss their chance and joined the race to monetize their educational software.

top education apps worldwide for may 2020

So, is it too late to get into EdTech? No, because the education market is huge. According to Grand View Research, EdTech’s global market value is expected to grow from $89.07 billion in 2020 to $285.23 billion in 2027. Education-focused AI expenditure alone is predicted to hit $6 billion by 2025. 

Not getting a piece of this pie would be a loss. Just note that to stand out and compete with giants, new products have to be outstanding — they have to address unmet demands and provide solutions to unsolved problems.

The benefits of EdTech platforms

EdTech, or Education Technology, is the practice of introducing or developing technological tools for educational purposes. This can range from digitising textbooks and online classrooms to educational apps tailored to the user's specific needs. EdTech has many advantages over traditional learning approaches including:

  • New learning methods – Mobile applications provide fun, gamified learning activities that can help students see things from a different perspective and spend more time studying.
  • Flexibility – Online courses allow students to study at their own pace and in any location. EdTech apps are even more convenient as users can study on the go.
  • Easy access to learning materials – Educational apps provide appropriate study materials. An app can save students time and effort spent searching for and organising textbooks, articles, and other reference materials.
  • Communication efficiency – EdTech apps can help enhance interactions between students and tutors, students and institutions, and parents and teachers. 
  • Сost efficiency– Even if an online course costs the same as an offline one, it saves a lot on transportation and/or accommodation fees.

How to plan and build EdTech solutions

EdTech is a competitive market with new products popping up every month. To succeed, simply joining the fray isn’t enough. A prosperous product stems from a robust business plan and a thorough execution. Based on MadAppGang's experience delivering high-profile applications, including cultural and educational apps, we recommend you to follow these steps to plan your EdTech app development:

1. Find your niche and business model

EdTech apps and web platforms can be divided into four categories:

  • Supplementary content products like the Duolingo, Khan Academy, Brainpop, and Quizlet apps. These provide supplementary learning content for better performance or engagement in learning via videos, games, simulations, and quizzes. 
  • Supplementary technology products like Kahoot!, ClassDojo, and Altitude Learning. These products do not provide content, instead, they provide technological solutions for education scenarios such as standardised testing, classroom engagement, and so on.
  • Primary technology products like Google Classroom and Canvas. These platforms were adopted by many schools during the pandemic as they simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments in the context of distance learning.
  • Primary content/curriculum products like edX and Udemy. These educational apps for adults provide online university-level courses in a variety of disciplines.
edtech app types

Source: Medium

2. Identify your audience and the problem that needs solving

At this stage, ask yourself who your potential users are, and who will purchase your product? If you build educational apps for children, remember that your users are kids yet your buyers are parents. Or, if you create an EdTech app development for schools, remember that the buyers are normally government institutions while the users are students and teachers. 

What problems do you solve for your customers? A good product solves problems your customers are currently facing or will face. For example, students' pain point is lack of digital resources at home. In 2020, a Pew Research Center poll revealed that 21% of students didn't have access to a computer while studying at home due to lockdown. 29% of students did their schoolwork on a smartphone using public Wi-Fi when they didn't have access to reliable internet at home. What is the solution to this pain point? A lightweight full-featured app would make it easier for students to work on a mobile device.

3. Conduct thorough market research

To develop an EdTech app that meets your customers' needs, you need to conduct market research: 

  • Analyse your direct competition – Identify your competitors. Which companies does your target audience turn to for information, choices, or purchases? Get to know what products your competitors offer.
  • Identify what your competitors are doing right – And don’t forget to check what’s missing in their EdTech products. Not only will this information help you stay relevant, but hitting those missing elements in your own product means surpassing industry standards.
  • Observe lookalike audiences – You already have an idea of your main target audience. But pay attention to the activities and habits of users similar to those you’re targeting, too, for a better understanding of user profiles.
market research

Source: Sapio

4. Choose a monetization model for your EdTech app

There are three key monetization models you can use in your educational application:

  • Ads You can monetize your learning app by including banners, video advertising, and interstitials.
  • In-app purchases Make money selling additional features, services, and courses. 
  • Subscriptions Charge users (schools, students) for access to your content or services.

For example, the free EdTech app Kahoot! generates revenue solely by selling additional features (in-app purchases). In contrast, Duolingo uses all three monetization models at once. It offers a basic free version that includes all its instructional content but makes users watch promotional videos. If the user wants to avoid ads, there’s a $6.99 monthly subscription that includes premium features like unlimited stickers, no commercials, and progress monitoring. Duolingo also makes money selling products such as language proficiency tests. 

5. Outline your positioning

To create a standout business, think about how to distinguish it from other products and companies in your industry:

  • Check if your niche is big enough Are enough people interested in your EdTech solution to make it profitable?
  • Choose a clear business model – What kind of product are you going to sell, content or technology? Who are you going to sell it to, users or businesses/schools?
  • Make a company profile– It will make your brand recognisable, help communicate the ethos of your business, and draw in new customers.

6. Identify the key app functionalities you need

Depending on the chosen concept, the range of features to include in your EdTech app development plan will vary. That said, to create a complete solution, you will need all or most of the following functionalities.

1. Communication features – As education requires collaboration, your app needs to support this in many ways. Think about adding forum boards, instant text messages, or tools for video conferencing.

2. Assignment and assessment – Facilitate collaboration between educators and students. Include task assignment, progress tracking, and file-sharing features. If your product is for schools, include flexible and accessible data storage options to make grading and access to reports easy for all involved in the educational process.

3. Search and filters – To enable easy searches for learning materials.

google classroom filters

Source: Google Classroom

4. Seamless integration with learning management systems (LMS) and school information systems (SIS) – If you’re looking at EdTech app development for schools, make it easy to integrate your product with the software already in use. For example, a wide range of education applications work with Google Classroom LMS including Screencastify, Schoolytics, Studyo, CK-12, and Discovery Education.

5. Strong security features – EdTech apps store learners’ personal information. When launching a new product, you must adhere to copyright and data privacy regulations just like for online payments and banking systems. As with the finance application MadAppGang created, we recommend bank-level security: two-factor user authentication, data storage encryption, and enhanced network security. 

When starting your EdTech app development, remember that you must follow US Department of Education (DOE) standards or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) if you plan to introduce your product in the EU. In Australia, you have to stick to The Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) that replaced the National Privacy Principles and Information Privacy Principles on 12 March 2014.

Add extra features

Education technology solutions are predicted to evolve in tandem with breakthroughs in the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR). The use of AR and VR in EdTech solutions enhances the learning experience. This promotes student engagement and allows them to explore and experience what they are learning. For example, to build an understanding of the structure of atoms, VR can immerse students inside an atom. This is a fun experience that will help to visualise and memorise the inner structure of the atom.

It’s not essential to build complicated VR education apps, for example, but to match or surpass your rivals, consider adding extra features such as AI tools. TechCrunch reports that Google recently purchased the Socratic app, an AI-powered tool that uses an algorithm to assess students' questions and break down complex concepts into smaller, easier-to-understand chunks. 

As an illustration, let's assume that you’re planning an educational app for kids. It would be smart to add AI-powered filters that ensure the materials available on the platform are age-appropriate. Nudity detector is an algorithm created by MadAppGang. It can identify an object in pictures, recognise differences in skin tone, and detect unacceptable illustrations to a 90% degree of accuracy.

Moreover, our nudity detector understands regional and cultural nudity norms. It takes the target audience's culture and age into consideration when moderating content. So, it can be used worldwide. The algorithm is faster than humans and it becomes more efficient with every image processed.

ai algorithm for education apps

7. Choose how to build your educational application

There are three ways to build an EdTech app:

1. App constructors – These ready-made solutions may seem the cheapest option as you can develop an educational app without coding. However, these services have major drawbacks including the inability to develop something unique, maintenance issues, low performance speeds, and so on. For example, ready-made web apps based on HTML5 technology can’t be published in the App Store or Google Play. Moreover, integrating payment gateways in these apps is difficult.  

2. Assemble an in-house team – For efficient EdTech app development, you need a full team of specialists: 

  • Project manager (PM) to determine your needs, design a road map for the project, manage your app development squad, and more.
  • Android or/and iOS developers, along with back-end developers to breathe life into your project and build an EdTech solution that meets all your requirements.
  • UX/UI designers to make your app appealing and user-friendly.
  • Testers and QA engineers to ensure a seamless app experience.

Looking for these specialists and building a team can take months and requires significant financial investment at just the recruitment stage. In addition, you need to pay office rent, buy equipment (hardware, software), and there’s still no guarantee that the team will work cohesively.

3. Hire an experienced EdTech app development company –When looking for an EdTech app development company, track records matter. Look at companies' portfolios and user reviews. Check if these firms have transparent policies, effective delivery management, and responsive customer support. Before making an agreement, contact companies and schedule meetings with their teams. During the meetings, pay attention to how collaborative the companies are, whether they provide you clear information, how realistic the costs are, and the time estimations suggested. Remember that a good product isn’t cheap and can’t be completed in two days unless important development stages like QA testing are omitted.

How much does it cost to make an educational app?

Calculating the cost of EdTech development is challenging as factors, such as the number of features, the app’s complexity, choice of the operating system, development time, and deadlines, all affect costs. For example, a cross-platform won't be as fast, responsive, and less likely to crash as a native one. At the same time, building a cross-platform app costs less and suits you the best if you are on a tight budget.

Price may vary from $15,000 on the lower end up to $80,000 and higher depending on the needs of your business. If you’re new to educational app development, contact our project managers who will help you define your needs, make realistic time estimates, and determine an approximate cost for your application.

To give you some idea of EdTech app construction estimates, here’s a table of average hourly rates for app development team members:

app-developer rates


Bottom Line

As the world continues to fight the COVID pandemic, e-learning is more relevant than ever. The EdTech industry is booming and the competition is intense, though the industry still welcomes newcomers with novel ideas. If you have a promising idea on how to enhance and facilitate the online learning process, it’s time to build your educational app and show it to the world. 

New EdTech apps face a lot of challenges and rivalry, so plan the launch carefully. Find your niche and monetization model, outline the marketing strategy, define promotion channels, and hire qualified specialists to build clever, intuitive, and full-featured software.

The best way to reduce costs without compromising the final quality of the product is to outsource to a reliable app development team like MadAppGang. We are a full-service software development agency with years of experience building high-profile applications. Not only are we here to build creative, intuitive, and feature-rich iOS, Android, or web solutions, but also to assist you at every stage of your project.

Check out our cost predictions and guide to developers’ hourly rates for more information on app development costs. Or, just contact MadAppGang's experts, we’re on hand with in-depth answers to all your questions.