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E-Learning App Development: Must-have Features & Technologies

E-Learning apps are generating more revenue now than ever. First came the pandemic, and services like Google Classroom had their users double to 100 million. With the emergence of new developments in AI tech, such companies are expected to grow even larger. Now is the perfect time to create your own e-Learning app — before the tide of growth has turned, at least.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything about e-Learning app development: which tech stack to choose and what features to include. We’ll also talk about the cost of e-Learning app development. Let’s jump right in.

Reading time: 11 minutes

Table of contents

    Key takeaways

    • The market of e-Learning apps is expected to grow. With the emergence of AI and VR, it’s still possible to enter this market and create a valuable app.
    • There are 4 types of e-Learning apps: synchronous learning platforms, asynchronous learning platforms, tutoring apps, and school management platforms.
    • The core features of e-Learning apps are registration, dashboard, search bar, payment integration, chat, and notifications.
    • e-Learning app development cost amounts to roughly $112,200.

    What is an e-Learning app?

    E-Learning apps encompass a broad market, which is not limited to schools and universities. Their primary goal is to help make education simpler and more accessible. By education we mean almost anything. Think about employee training programs, hobby-related courses, or 1-on-1 lessons with private tutors.

    Such apps offer many benefits both for students and teachers. For example, with e-Learning apps students can access lessons and training materials in their own time online. Teachers can pre-record lessons and distribute them online, check their students’ grades, and track their progress.

    E-Learning app development is also beneficial from the business standpoint for all sorts of companies. Businesses can onboard new employees faster by creating courses on corporate platforms. Employees will waste no time searching for optimal training tools and acquire skills faster. When an organization shows interest in its employees’ professional growth, it makes them feel valued. This leads to increased productivity and higher employee retention.

    What are the trends for e-Learning app development?

    The e-Learning app development does not stand still — it grows and constantly takes new technological twists. Let’s take a closer look at the current market and technology trends in the sphere.

    Market trends

    Experts at FMI believe the sphere of online education will grow from $74.2 billion in 2021 to $288.4 billion by 2031. Also, the number of unicorns in the industry is rising rapidly. As of March, 2023, there are about 30 EdTech unicorns globally, collectively valued at $89 billion. 

    EdTech statistics from 2021 to 2031

    After seeing the world and the realm of offline education ravaged by the pandemic, this comes as no surprise. Educational facilities and students saw the flexibility and value of online learning. They used it even after the effects of the virus lessened. Schools and tutors that still operate offline are using new online educational tools to enhance their education experiences.

    Technology trends

    In 2023, AI (artificial intelligence) is used more frequently than ever. According to GVR, market size of AI tech in education was valued at $1.81 billion in 2021. It’s expected to grow, too. There are plenty of apps which have already integrated AI tech as their main features — e.g. outsourcing student grading to algorithms, or hiring AI tutors for SAT prep. Having tech focused on machine learning algorithms as your app’s killer feature is a solid move if you want to make an app in education.

    AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) are other types of technologies for e-Learning app development which are on the rise. 3D presentations and concept demonstrations can make lessons more engaging — it makes their content easier to digest and remember. AR can help with learning skills that require hands-on experience which is difficult to obtain otherwise — e.g. surgeries for medical students. There’s not that many apps that utilize AR, so you can use it in your app to differentiate yourself from other companies.

    AR Atom Visualizer for ARCore

    AR Atom Visualizer for ARCore uses the AR technology: a student can point their camera at a table and see how particles look and interact

    What are the main types of e-Learning applications?

    E-Learning apps can be categorized by the target audience, training methods, main purposes, and the like. We’ve determined 4 broad categories which can serve as a good starting point for navigating the market. Here are the mobile e-Learning applications types:

    Synchronous learning platforms

    Gist. With these kinds of apps, students and teachers can set up online meetings, join them later, and interact face-to-face. Teachers and students can communicate via video or via chat rooms. In some cases, course instructors can create quizzes in the spirit of Kahoot, where students pass tests online in real time. 

    Example. Google Classroom is a learning platform available on desktop and mobile devices. Course instructors can keep track of their team’s progress, distribute assignments, and create tests. There is also a feature to set up video meetings. This way, students recreate the experience of in-person learning online.

    Google classroom e-learning platform

    Google Classroom interface

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    Asynchronous learning platforms

    Gist. Most of the online courses platforms fall under this category. Teachers upload learning materials to the platform: manuals, syllabi, videos, and assignments. The distinguishing factor of this type of apps is that students don’t interact with course instructors or teachers live. They study the materials on their own at their comfortable pace. Then students either submit assignments to be graded, get their peers to discuss their work, or assess their papers and homework themselves.

    Example. Coursera is an asynchronous mobile learning platform with 118 million users. This is likely the first choice a company or a university will pick to host their courses. Educational institutions like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT all have their lessons and courses displayed on Coursera for anyone to join. You don’t have to leave the app to get an immersive learning experience, because it has everything you could possibly need: a video player, a tab for courses and assignments, and tests with other tools to assess your progress. 

    Coursera online e-learning platform

    This how a course looks like on Coursera

    Tutoring apps

    Gist. It’s a subset of apps where students can find tutors and study with them on the platform. Students get a pool of teachers and filters which they can apply to find the perfect match. As soon as they find the teacher, they can schedule classes, discuss payment options, and later keep track of lessons and assignments. Tutors, in turn, get a reliable stream of clients.

    Example. Preply is a tutoring app with 32 thousand teachers from more than 185 countries. This platform is mostly associated with language learning. Students can book lessons, enter video calls, and do homework on the platform — no other services required. If they want, they may also take vocabulary and grammar quizzes. This way, they further enrich their understanding of the studied language.

    Preply teacher profile

    Teacher profile on the Preply learning platform

    School management platforms

    Gist. These apps are used in educational institutions by managers, teachers, and students. Users can log attendances and absences of students, check their grades and behavior.

    Example. iGradePlus is a school management system with plenty of options for teachers and other staff. Users can check out the overview of the class they’re teaching, check assessments, and leave comments for individual students. If any student’s behavior is not up to par, they can report these instances on the platform and save one more trip to the headmaster. Not only that, teachers can also share access to their students’ grades to parents — they can join the platform and see attendance records, assessments, and event calendars.

    iGradePlus school management platform

    iGradePlus interface

    Core features for mobile e-Learning apps

    Let’s say you’ve decided on the type of app you want. We believe creating an MVP before making an app with every single feature available is a solid strategy.

    MVP (minimum viable product) is a stripped-down version of the app with essential features. It’s cheaper than a full-blown app, and it helps businesses figure out if their idea is actually viable with minimum expense. They can gather feedback from the first users and adjust features if needed.

    READ MORE  What Is MVP in a Startup?

    With MVPs, essential features are enough —  there’ll always be time to add more later. We’ve selected a few features e-Learning apps must have.

    Registration and personal accounts. Whether you’re planning on creating a school management system or a learning platform, personal accounts are indispensable. They help users keep their information safe and store it in the app. Student profiles can have grades, names and addresses, information about upcoming lessons, or school details. Teachers and tutors need personal accounts for certain privileges within the app: grading the students, scheduling online meetings.

    iZumator e-learning platform

    Personal account in iZumator

    Dashboard. This feature is useful for navigating the app. Keep in mind that different types of users will have different needs. For example, students may need to have a separate tab for their grades, while teachers will probably want a list of all students they have. You’ll need to integrate separate dashboards for each of them to create a pleasant user experience.

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    Search bar with filters. Different types of apps will need this feature for varying purposes. Tutoring apps can’t exist without it — how else will a user find a teacher on the app? The same goes for asynchronous learning platforms — users should be able to find a needed course. To enhance your app search, add the option to use keywords or set filters to narrow down the search results.

    e-learning app search

    Search in the iZumator app

    Payment integration. The option to make payments is essential for users of any e-Learning app. For example, school management systems may have it so that the student can pay for a school lunch without switching to other software. As for tutoring apps, with a smooth payment integration, teachers won’t have to generate links or send invoices themselves to get their money. It’s convenient.

    Chat. With this feature, tutors can interact with students without resorting to other apps, like WhatsApp or iMessage. If you want, you can make the chat feature even more helpful by adding customer support. With this, users won’t have to call or try to reach you by e-mail to report some bugs.

    Notifications. The app can send users reminders about payments due, upcoming lessons, or deadlines for assignments. This way, you keep users informed and regularly prompt them to use the app.

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    Technologies for e-Learning app development

    At Purrweb, we’ve been creating MVPs for 8 years. So far, we’ve helped give shape to over 300 projects. Our developers agreed that JavaScript frameworks are best for smooth and fast apps. If you’re planning to create an e-Learning app, here are the frameworks which will benefit you:

    Electron.js for desktop apps. This framework allows developers to create fully-fledged apps with only HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. In turn, you can create an app that’s compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux without overspending on more coding teams.

    React.js for web apps. It’s a library that provides tools to develop complex user interfaces. It can help you create web apps that run fast and efficiently.

    React Native for mobile apps. You’ll be able to create mobile apps for both iOS and Android using a single codebase. Your developers will only need to write code once — this saves you up to 30% time and money.

    6 steps to develop an e-Learning app

    Here we’ll outline the process we’ve used at Purrweb for 8 years. You can apply it when creating a learning mobile app on your own, or you can hire us and we’ll do the work for you.

    1. Conduct market research

    Think of the target audience of your app and its needs. Try to understand in detail who your future customer is — and what exactly they want from your app. This ensures that the features you’ll include will enhance the user experience and not hinder it.

    Note any competitors you may have. Find their strengths and areas where their app is lacking. You can develop a useful product that improves upon failures other apps have, and users will like your app more. 

    2. Select a monetization model for your app

    There are several models you can integrate to ensure that your mobile app development efforts are fruitful. The choice depends on the type of app you’ve decided to create:

    Course/tutor fees. For each lesson booked or sold, you can take a small cut from the educator’s profits. Think of a fixed percentage that won’t ward off potential users, but will be enough for your business model to be viable.

    Subscriptions. Make your app pay-to-use — or keep it free, but lock additional features behind a paywall.

    Donations. While this is an inconsistent method of funding your project, it’s a good way to keep users you’ve attracted loyal to your product.

    Advertisements. One of the less riskier models of monetization. Be mindful of the size and placement of ads in the app —they shouldn’t take too much space on the screen. Otherwise, users will find the product annoying to use, and will probably switch to a competitor.

    3. Identify the core features

    We’ve listed the core features you should incorporate into your app no matter its type. Choose them along with a killer feature — something that distinguishes you from your competitors. 

    Stay flexible and keep in mind that you will be able to complement and improve the features later on.

    4. Create UI/UX design of your app

    Collect references of design you find pleasing and fitting to your app. You can base your future design on them. 

    When mapping out their user-flow for your future design, think of every scenario of how users will navigate through the software. Stay away from useless flourishes and buttons, because they can mislead and frustrate users.

    We recommend that you delegate this job to a professional designer. You can hire a freelancer, create an in-house team, or outsource it to an agency. A freelance designer may be cheaper but there is no guarantee that they will provide high quality. An in-house team can create good design, but it will cost extra — the company has to find and sort through candidates, onboard new employees, and manage staff. An outsourcing design company is a perfect choice in terms of price and quality. You can read more about hiring designers below:

    READ MORE  How to hire a UI/UX designer who is curious about your product

    5. Develop an app and test it

    With the tech stack outlined above, hire developers and create a solid code for your MVP. Ensure that there are no bugs in the finished app.

    6. Release the app and continue to improve it

    Now is the time to roll out your app to marketplaces like App Store or Google Play Market. Gather reviews from your first users and refine the app. Their feedback is important — keep track of the things they want and features they complain about. 

    Update your app as needed and listen to feedback. It’s a continuous iteration loop which will make your product better.

    Our experience with e-Learning app development — iZumator

    At Purrweb, we’ve followed the same process to create an e-Learning platform iZumator. The platform allows users to create and pass courses. It also has a feature that makes it stand out on the market: any student can become the next mentor.

    We’ve worked on the e-Learning app from the ground up. Our specialists outlined the user flow and created separate dashboards for 5 roles: admin, supervisor, assistant, student, and mentor. We’ve made the UI/UX design and developed the platform with a JavaScript-based tech stack. 

    In the end, our client got a corporate education platform that can be scaled without refactoring. The app gathered positive feedback from the company employees.

    e-learning platform

    iZumator app

    What is the e-Learning app development cost

    Overall, developing an e-Learning app with core features outlined above costs about $112, 200. This is our own estimate, other designers may state a different price. There are several things that factor into this number, here’s a table outlining them:

    Stage of developmentApproximate costs
    Market research and project analysisFree at Purrweb
    UI/UX designfrom $6,200
    Codingfrom $75,000
    QA testingfrom $16,000
    Project managementfrom $15,000

    You can read more about the factors that influences the app development cost and the amount of time it takes in the article below:

    READ MORE  How Much Does It Cost To Develop An App

    Summary

    In this article, we’ve outlined the key points about e-Learning app development — what it is, its necessary features, and benefits. We’ve also described 4 mobile e-Learning applications types, and the approach to the e-Learning app development for institutes or businesses.

    If you want to create an e-Learning app for your own business or create software for the market, make sure to leave us a message in the form below. We’ll reply in 24 hours.

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