There’s an app for just about everything, but that doesn’t mean all the opportunities are gone for mobile software developers. One area still ripe with opportunity is the education market.
Even though some of the earliest apps were education-oriented, there’s still so much that can be done in terms of combining mobile and education. The web and mobile offer such scope for innovative educational offerings, enterprising developers still can make a significant mark in the space if they correctly identify a need and think creatively about how to meet that need using mobile.
Here are five areas in education where we feel mobile developers can find significant success and profit if they get creative.
1. Helping School Systems
E-learning isn’t the only way that the online and mobile revolutions have changed education. New technologies such as WebRTC API’s, and trends such as widespread videoconferencing access via smartphone, mean that schools also can better communicate with parents and connect students in virtual study groups that better track assignment completion and give improved homework feedback.
Mobile developers have an opportunity in developing apps that serve school systems directly and help connect them with parents and students outside the classroom.
2. New Classroom Opportunities
At first, smartphones were ignored in the classroom. Then they were vilified and restricted. Now there is the trend toward using them for educational gain, not just seeing them as impediments to classroom instruction.
If nearly every student has a smartphone, that means the rules in the classroom have changed. Teachers can both better utilize online resources and cloud services, and introduce new teaching paradigms in the classroom that take advantage of students who come packing not only online access but also video cameras and the ability to use apps the teacher has requested they install.
Teachers, for instance, can now create virtual field trips and bring speakers into the classroom easily.
“Connecting with speakers on the other side of the world is one of the best classroom opportunities today,” notes Tony Zhao, Agora.io’s founder, referring to the emerging trend of video chatting with experts in other parts of the world instead of mining only local opportunities.
He has a warning for developers, however: “But make sure you are prepared for weak connections in countries that don’t have reliable internet infrastructure when developing your apps that take advantage of this market opportunity.”
Mobile developers should be asking themselves how smartphones can change classroom instruction—and then build apps that support these new opportunities.
3. Extending Education Beyond the Classroom
Both the DIY and the maker communities have expanded the interest in learning outside of the classroom, to say nothing of the role that programming has played in cultivating self-directed learning (when was a class the best place to learn programming?—never).
As these communities expand and lifelong learning takes a greater place in the lives of many, be it DIY or a more formal attempt at learning outside the confines of school, there is a need for apps and services that support this change in how we expect to learn. Mobile developers can carve out a niche in any number of areas by combining a specific learning community with a targeted mobile app.
4. Supporting Corporate Education Programs
As jobs get more specialized, the need for better and ongoing training increases. Some of this need can be filled by educational institutions, but enterprises also are developing their own in-house training programs to meet training needs.
Developers who are considering the education market should think beyond educational institutions and also look at the opportunities in corporate America. Businesses need education apps, too, and they pay much better than school systems.
5. Expanding Education Through New Technology
Smartphones may have been around for years now, but wearables still are new. The scope for combining wearables and education is large, and there’s still much room for developing apps that natively combine wearables and education—both personal and in a school setting.
Even more, promising for educational app development is virtual and augmented reality (AR). Right now there is learning online and in the physical world, but virtual and augmented reality technology is on the cusp of blurring that line and the education community has barely addressed the implications of this for learning.
Overall, we feel the opportunities for mobile developers in the education space are large. There’s still a first-mover advantage for mobile developers who target these new technologies for innovative educational app offerings.
We’re already supporting education app developers such as language learning app, HelloTalk, by providing reliable video communications for connecting learning communities. We look forward to helping you with your education apps, too.