From the simple use of computers to teach topics to the sophistication of mobile-learning applications, use of gamification and other cutting-edge technologies — the Edtech sector has come a long way.
A joint report by Google and KPMG says India’s online education industry is expected to grow almost eight times to hit $1.96 billion by 2021, with the number of paid users rising six-fold from 1.6 million now to 9.6 million.
India today has the largest K-12 education system in the world, with over 260 million enrolments and multiple educational applications offering digital learning techniques. There are too many apps to choose from, which results in low retention rates and less time spent on individual apps.
Targeting parents, teachers and students alike makes the marketing of these applications somehow a bit complex. For increased visibility, some of these apps have collaborated with celebrities such as Shah Rukh Khan and Mahesh Babu, being active on traditional mediums such as print and TV, while a few others believe in building an online community for the purpose.
BestMediaInfo.com talked to the people behind educational apps and tried to understand how these are marketed. While some refrained from showcasing ads on their UI, others have inbuilt mobile device software, ensuring a safe online service. Thoroughly based on machine learning and AI, experts discussed how the online learning industry of these apps is booming.
Educational apps ensure quality learning, which becomes accessible and affordable to all with a personalised content. New digital learning techniques such as interactive learning modules, experiments, simulations, games and immersive learning technologies such as virtual/augmented reality have also made learning infinitely more interesting. It provides audio visual, higher engaging and on-demand content, marking longer impressions on students.
Mohit Chobey, Chief Commercial Officer at Meritnation, said marketing an education service or an app is a little complex as the strategy has to cater to both the end user, who is the student, and the parent, who is the decision maker (mostly) and the buyer. An appropriate strategy needs to cater to the traditional values and ‘mindset’ of parents, particularly with respect to the business of education, as well as to impress the current generation with the ease and flexibility of the service or product.
The Next Education Learning App uses channels such as Google Adwords, social media and leverages its online community, NextGurukul, to promote it. “Optimisation via Google Ads is one of the most effective methods in which we promote our apps. Apart from social media optimisation, our in-house built online community helps in target marketing. We can reach out to parents and educators more specifically via this conduit,” said Sameer Bora, Executive Vice-President, Next Education India.
Mrinal Mohit, Chief Operating Officer of BYJU’S, said TV and word of mouth has helped the app to reach out to its primary and secondary customers—children and their parents—across geographies. He said, “Advertising on TV has primarily helped us with customer acquisition, while we have specifically used print medium to explain the how and the why of the app to our target audience. TV when used simultaneously with social media amplifies our ROI.” He said consistently maintaining a high rating helps establish the quality and trust among its users, improving download rates.
Apart from this, Mohit shared that the app’s partnership with Shah Rukh Khan, Mahesh Babu and Mohanlal, which has strengthened awareness and ensured an increase in app downloads.
“Celebrity endorsement has an impact on brand value and usage, primarily because it generates instant brand awareness and mass credibility. However, educational apps cannot simply function on instantaneous trust building,” Bora said.
It is widely known that organic discovery across app stores is currently broken, and the ability to acquire high-value users, who will engage with an app over time, is becoming harder and harder. While Google and Apple’s stores have improved their app discovery guidelines, this situation is not really a surprise.
Asked how they are tackling with the issue, Bora said, “With improved algorithms that take into consideration factors of app quality and user engagement such as high retention rates, low crash rates, low uninstalls, etc., we strive to improve quality of app content that ensures that the needs of the users are met in the highest capacity. App users are regularly asked for detailed feedback/reviews apart from ratings, which not only help us solve immediate problems, but also design better ways to engage users.”
With personalisation of learning becoming the iconoclastic learning strategy of the 21st century, machine learning and AI-powered adaptive learning technology is set to become one of the most important trends in e-learning applications.
How apps are riding on back of machine learning and AI
It is considered that the integration of AI in the form of content and assessments will be the most disruptive power in changing the face of school education. Additionally, other new-age technologies are also influencing various changes in the sector. Cloud technology has solved problems of access and lack of infrastructure in education can be solved as students can access regularly updated content.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence help tailor content according to the needs of each and every learner. With automation of scheduling and content delivery processes, it can also track a student’s progress, give individualised feedback and provide targeted remedy, Bora said.
“With recent advancements in the field of Natural Language Processing (NLP), correcting written answers of students with the help of machines seems a distinct possibility in the not-so-far future,” predicted Chobey.
Experiential learning is driven through games, with this comes gamification. A combination of gamification techniques in learning ensures students stay motivated. Gamification directs a student's learning interactions, offers a sense of progress and achievement and drives engagement. In fact, gamification for younger audiences takes a different hue. It helps to maintain high levels of engagement among younger audiences and helps retain their focus, Mohit said.
No doubt ML/AI is advancement for these apps in future but it invites a lot of privacy loopholes as well, making them unsafe for students.
How apps ensure a safe environment to students
Using technology for learning has its side-effects in the form of distractions and cybercrime. How safe, sound and secured are these apps?
“To ensure our users do not fall prey to distractions, we have incorporated Mobile Device Management software in our home-learning solutions, which enables students to visit only websites pre-approved by parents. This minimises online distractions by giving parental control on what a child is allowed to view. We do not allow any advertisements on our learning apps, which may distract children from learning. All the audio-visuals are made age-appropriate with extensive research, be it the colours, the typography, the image-text ratio, the sound effects or the animations,” Bora said.
Chobey said they use advanced Machine Learning algorithms to detect any offensive/ abusive / adult content from the users’ end, which then does not get published anywhere on the platform. While ensuring UI is happy and colourful, it also focuses on designing a UX that is clean, simple and easy to use.