Building Higher Education Apps — Ensuring Success By Identifying Students’ Needs
Education apps saw a noticeable boost in usage over the pandemic, rising from 185 million users in 2019 to 270 million in 2020. With growth having continued in 2021 and 2022, there’s no question that the ability to learn via mobile applications is both useful and appealing.
When designing an app for use among those enrolled in higher education, however, understanding what students want and how to best cater to their needs can sound like a challenging endeavor. From understanding what students want and need in an app to the elements that can help cultivate success when finally on the market, here are just a few key considerations for those looking to create the next best education-focused app.
Understanding what students want
An ellucian.com post dives into the details of what students want in an ideal application, particularly in regard to college mobile apps. Many of the students interviewed, the post notes, happened to use the phrase “one stop shop” when describing their ideal college mobile app. “They want a centralised, mobile environment where they can pay bills, check grades, register for courses, access key applications with a single sign-on, look at news and events, and locate campus resources.”
Data safety, features such as more push notifications (“especially personalised communications and recommendations via the mobile app”) are a couple of other elements that students wish for, according to the Ellucian post. With that in mind, however, it’s necessary to point out that comprehensive mobile college apps aren’t the only ones that students are in need of in today’s day and age.
Getting homework help in an efficient way
While the needs of each student varies when it comes to the apps they need the most, there’s no question that many turn to their phone when looking for homework/academic help. However, it’s worth noting that students who rely on the internet to look up homework answers are getting higher homework scores — but lower grades on exams, according to one study by Rutgers-New Brunswick psychology professor Arnold Glass in the School of Arts and Sciences. While a student’s reliance on the internet can harm information retention and test performance, however, using online resources in a supplemental way can be a smarter study strategy.
“Students should generate the answer to a homework question for themselves before they try to Google the answer,” advises the Rutgers article, which goes on to note that “They should go so far as entering it as the answer in the assignment so that they will have to change it if it is wrong — even if they are guessing.” This can be particularly useful when learning aspects of math or chemistry that can be particularly challenging. This can be particularly useful when learning aspects of math or chemistry that can be particularly challenging. When learning the chemical formula for nitrogen monoxide, for example, it’s important to opt for resources that thoroughly explain the process rather than just giving the answer.
Homework help applications
When looking at homework help applications, popular options can be surprising. Despite being banned on many college campuses (due to security concerns), TikTok has become more than social media for many, with students turning to the app for homework help. In fact, 51% of college students have used the app for help with academic work, and of this group, 58% prefer using TikTok over other search engines, according to key findings of an Intelligent.com survey of 1,000 current 4-year college students in the United States.
“TikTok’s surge in popularity, especially among Gen Z, is credited to its engaging short-form content and trends,” says education advisor Blanca Villagomez. “While it has its advantages and disadvantages as an educational tool, seeking reputable sources on the platform can be beneficial for understanding topics.”
When aiming to build an app that caters to the needs of students in higher education, drawing upon the already present wants and challenges can bring valuable insight to the table. Collaboration and bite-size learning, for instance, are pros to social apps such as TikTok, while elements such as convenience can be derived from comprehensive mobile college apps.
To set the foundation for a successful mobile app idea, one Forbes article notes that determining whether your idea solves an existing problem is just one valuable element, while identifying the target audience and their characteristics also plays a key role in the idea development process. For example, considering whether the audience is familiar with the app features you’re planning to launch is just one point to take into consideration, while narrowing your audience to a niche can further pave the way to success.
A separate Forbes article touches on the important considerations for those creating EdTech products, highlighting that in 2015, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation surveyed 3,100 educators for feedback on the digital instruction tools they used. The results found that the most useful edtech products fulfilled various key learning objectives, from delivering instruction to diagnosing student learning, including varied delivery methods, prioritizing usability and accessibility, and tailoring the learning experience, to name just a few.
Creating a successful mobile education app for higher education involves integrating AI for personalized learning and ensuring accessibility. By understanding today’s students and essential edtech elements, you can craft an app poised to excel in the market.