There are a range of different types of educational apps that are in use within the educational technology (EdTech) sector, whether for kindergarten-aged children or for adult education. But how to develop an educational app and successfully monetize it remains is something that all education app development has to take into account. So, what needs to be looked at?
Successfully monetizing an education app has, in many respects, exactly the same challenges and has to answer the same questions as every other type of app whose end-goal is to make money. These include:
- Market identification. What is the particular market that the app intended to serve?
- Need fulfilment. What is the need or requirement that this app will meet? Is this linked to an external requirement (e.g. an external curriculum or a particular set of exams) or is it more generic (e.g. improving skills in languages or arithmetic)?
- App differentiation. What makes this app stand out from the other apps within the sector? What advantages does it offer? What does it do better or more effectively than others?
- Awareness. How will people become aware that this app exists? Is there a specific pre-formed market group to whom it can be advertised (e.g. a mailing list)? Is there a partner with whom a partnership can be formed to promote the app?
- Future development. What is the plan for developing the app in the future? People expect new features and/or updated content in apps as a matter of course. How will this app meet that requirement?
- Security and data protection. What is going on ‘behind the scenes’ to ensure that user data is going to be kept secure? How will data protection legislation be complied with? What about financial information and personal details?
All these aspects need to be considered and satisfactorily answered. Once they have been, then the various methods of how to monetize an educational app can be considered.
How to monetize an app
Educational apps have a special purpose, one that is to aid in the development of skills and gaining of knowledge. However, with the wealth of information that is available today and the diverse, wide range of sources and courses that can be used or taken, working out how to monetize any offering is important.
In essence, monetization involves turning the offering that the app is providing into money: it is providing an economic return on the investment that is made into the development and deployment of the app.
There are a range of different types of monetization methodology that can be incorporated into educational apps development. These can reflect the different underlying pedagogical approach that the educational provider wishes to use. They can include user-focused income generation, such as:
- A subscription model: this is where the user pays for access for a timed period. The subscription provides access to material that is not available through a free version, such as additional learning material, tools, content and so on. It can also be used to provide the user with additional benefits, such as a reduction in course fees or online community membership.
- A course model: this is where the user pays for an individual course of series of courses. Often, an option is provided where the user can pay for access to the course material for the length of the course or for permanent access i.e. allowing access after the course has ended. This latter option normally enables a higher rate to be charged.
- Premium feature access. This basically involves the purchase of an additional feature: for some courses, this includes a physical certificate of course completion or greater interaction with the trainer.
- Download charges. This can monetize some of the offerings on the app by allowing the user to download material from the course in an easily useable manner (e.g. in MSWord, Excel or Adobe PDF format). Normally, this would be linked to a lower course fee with the download then being an ‘optional extra’.
And they can also include provider-focused income generation:
- Advertising: this represents a major opportunity for generating revenue, either by providing advertising space within the app for a third-party or for providing an option for users to pay for removing advertising content.
- Commission charges. Providers can pay to have their material hosted on or provided through the app. This can be particularly useful if a range of courses are being provided as it enables different coaches or authors to use their material while paying for hosting on the platform.
- White-labelling services. This is a specialist area whereby the whole app can be ‘white-labelled’ and a third-party can then in-effect re-sell the service as one that they provide. Whether an educational mobile app would want to go down this route depends on the particular market that is being aimed at – in effect, learners or providers – and what the business model for the firm is.
There are therefore a range of ways in which education app development can be monetized. A firm or person thinking about an educational mobile app should consider which options they wish to pursue as the answer to the question of how to build or develop the app will vary in order to ensure the requirements are met.