How to Build an Educational Platform for Kids and How Much It Costs
— Originally published on Steelkiwi
Have you ever tried teaching something to a kid? Engaging children in learning activities is often not that easy. That’s why educational innovators throughout the years have taken on the task to make learning effortless and exciting. If you’re one of these innovators and want to know how to create an eLearning platform for kids, this article will help you get the ball rolling.
EdTech market: Recent statistics
Even before the pandemic, the EdTech sector had been consistently growing. However, with lockdowns, online education became a necessity. Educational institutions needed efficient solutions to facilitate online classes and learning activities as well as to monitor attendance and parent-teacher interactions. This has created many opportunities for the global education apps market. As a result, the EdTech market has seen a large increase in investments and innovations.
In 2021, EdTech attained three times its pre-pandemic levels of venture capital investment, providing startups around the world with more than $20 billion in funding. At the end of 2021, 32 EdTech companies had unicorn status, with 61 mega-rounds (when a startup’s fundraising round is $100 million or more) throughout 2021, and more than 3,000 funding rounds over $5 million in the history of the EdTech sector.
It’s obvious — the EdTech market is promising and is a perfect environment in which to fulfill your eLearning software development project.
Kids’ eLearning software development
Children are curious about devices, and their interest can be utilized to encourage learning.
Nowadays, many kids are familiar with smartphones from an early age. According to the Pew Research Center, among the 60% of parents who say their child younger than 12 interacts with a smartphone:
- 6 in 10 parents say their kid started engaging with a smartphone before the age of 5
- 1 in 3 parents say they started by age 2
- 29% say they started between ages 3 and 4
- 26% say they started between the ages of 5 and 8
- 14% say they started between ages 9 and 11
Educational platforms are a great way to gain knowledge no matter a learner’s age. With the pandemic influencing children’s studying all over the world and making it harder for students to participate in learning, innovative eLearning software has been welcomed enthusiastically.
What is an educational platform?
An educational platform is a set of interactive online services that offers users tools, information, or resources to facilitate and manage learning.
Children’s educational platform examples
Before you start with educational platform development, you have to think through the training you’ll provide to your customers. Let’s take a look at various categories of kids’ educational platforms that have been successful.
Platforms with many creators and courses
Platforms like Udemy and Skillshare host many creators that offer courses for learners of all ages, including children. The selection of content for kids is varied and includes lessons on art, coding, languages, and more.
When building a platform like this, it’s crucial to think through how to develop a comfortable space for lecturers and students to facilitate efficient learning. Lecturers need to have robust options to upload/record courses in multiple parts as well as to create/grade homework or tests. Because your learners are going to be children and teens, it’s essential that your platform is intuitive, has motivational features like progress tracking, and has a space where learners can ask questions of instructors.
Another educational platform example is Epic, a solution that concentrates on one specific subject as opposed to delving into many topics. Epic contains a large collection of popular books for kids aged 12 and under to fuel their interest in reading.
Note that if you want to dive into similar eLearning portal development, your site has to offer a rich selection of high-quality content that readers will want to come back to.
Platforms that educate by creating an experience
Another concept is creating a solution where users can improve their skills through real-life experience. QniQr is an example of this unique concept. It’s a marketplace where children create their own stores to enhance money management skills.
Educational platforms that teach through games
Sometimes, getting kids interested in learning is tough. Playing games, however, is a different story. That’s why kids’ learning websites often include games to engage children in learning activities while playing and having fun. Reading Eggs is a popular educational platform that employs various educational games to help children learn to read.
If you’re planning on developing educational software for kids that teaches them through games, it’s essential to not only have a generous variety of games but to divide them by the age groups they target.
Games for different ages need to differ in both complexity and plot. Easier games might bore older children, while more complicated ones can frustrate younger children. It’s crucial to start your eLearning software development with in-depth research of your target customers’ preferences. Testing different games with your users will reveal what learners like.
Must-have features for educational software for kids
Depending on the training concept you choose for your custom eLearning product, the features will vary. However, there are a couple of core eLearning website features that apply to all solutions, no matter the learning model:
- Signup and login
- User profiles and dashboard
- Admin panel
- Payment systems
Signup and login
Registration is the first step users will go through on your platform. Hence, it needs to be quick, easy, and not require too much information up front to decrease the bounce rate.
In the beginning, it’s best to just ask for an email/phone number and a password. You can request other details later, such as by asking users to fill out their profile before payment or offering some kind of reward.
For younger children, their parents will go through the onboarding, while teens may do it themselves. In addition, if you intend to offer your platform to schools, teachers will also go through the registration process.
Some platforms separate categories of users starting from registration, when users indicate who they are.
Allowing users to log in through social media accounts might make sense if your platform will serve content for older teens, since on most social media platforms one has to be 13 or older to register.
User profiles and dashboard
User profiles are personal spaces that your customers can personalize and where they can adjust preferences and check their payment history.
On eLearning platforms, user profiles typically have the following features:
- User information (pictures, links, bio, location)
- Payment history
A dashboard is one of the most crucial features of eLearning system. Dashboards help learners track their skills progress, the number of courses they’ve finished, or how many lectures are remaining. This can motivate your users to persevere and not lose heart halfway through.
It’s vital that a dashboard on your site contains all of a user’s essential information so users can easily navigate to different areas of your platform.
Moreover, dashboards can help you boost sales. You can use them to promote new or popular content as well as to notify users about discounts and offers.
On children’s educational platforms, often parents or teachers can create profiles for themselves and add multiple children’s profiles. As an example, here are two kinds of user profiles and dashboards on the children’s reading site Epic — one for caregivers and one for kids.
Both profiles include only the basics: a name and an avatar.
On the caregiver’s dashboard, the caregiver can track children’s reading progress and activity as well as connect children to school classes.
In the child’s dashboard, they can add books to read, review their reading log and activity, earn badges, and see their skill level increase.
When you build an online learning platform, it must have an admin panel. Within an admin panel, administrators should be able to manage the website; add, edit, and delete content and users; and produce and check reports.
If your website’s eLearning model is based on paid content, you should provide appropriate payment options that are used in the locales you’re targeting. Some of the most widely used payment methods include:
- Google Pay
- Apple Pay
- Debit and credit cards
Previously, we compared the top online payment services — PayPal, Braintree, and Stripe — to help you choose which to integrate into your platform.
If you plan to have teachers on your platform who will create content for young learners, you should provide those teachers with a convenient way to collect their earnings.
It also goes without saying that your payment gateway must be secure to prevent leaks of your customers’ personal data.
A notifications feature lets you remind your users about various activities, new content, and updates. But refrain from spamming users with sales-related notifications or you risk irritating them. Users may stop reading the information in notifications altogether, reducing the effectiveness of your campaigns and decreasing customer loyalty. However, occasional personalized content suggestions can be helpful and gain users’ interest.
In addition, you can use notifications to remind users to finish listening to lectures, update them on their progress or skill level, and share when another user likes or responds to their comment.
Limitations and what to consider when building solutions for kids
To make your site the safest it can be, you need to ensure that any explicit images and text is caught before it reaches your young users. It’s best to have both an automatic content detector and a manual content review process.
Experienced custom eLearning development companies should be able to recommend tried and tested instruments that spot and report suspicious content.
When building the QniQr children’s marketplace, we integrated a third-party service that provides automated image moderation and guarantees 99.9% content safety. AI filters scan uploaded material and determine whether it’s appropriate for younger audiences. If machines catch unwanted content, it gets sent to human moderators who manually check the reports.
What needs to be moderated on kids’ platforms:
- User-uploaded and user-created content
In addition, your website should have reporting options for content in chats, posts, and user profiles. This way, when users notice a violation, they can report it immediately without having to take too many steps.
Also, when deciding on your platform’s eLearning model, remember to determine:
- Who makes the decision to register (guardians, children, both?)
- Who uses the platform and in what way
- How much guardians can control
This will impact what safety precautions are required and what instruments you’ll need to implement.
How to monetize a website for children
The monetization model is one of the first points you have to address when you start to build an online learning platform because it will influence how your website looks and works.
There are many ways to earn revenue with an eLearning solution, but remember to keep your audience in mind when choosing a monetization model. For kids’ educational platforms, some monetization strategies might be less advantageous than others. Let’s break them down.
This monetization model allows you to generate revenue from ads and make your platform free to users. As a result, more users may be willing to try out your product and register on the site. However, advertising to children is a sensitive matter, so this strategy is not the most fitting for educational software for kids. If you do decide to implement this monetization model, then ads should be appropriate and subtle.
This is considered one of the top monetization strategies for kids’ solutions. With subscriptions, you earn stable income that can be scaled while your site remains adless. Offer free trials so users try out your platform without risks and get hooked! If you choose to execute this strategy, remember to maintain the quality of service and regularly bring new and exciting features and content to the platform. This way, your customers will see the value they’re paying for.
This is another popular model, since it allows customers to use the platform for free or pay for the premium version with advanced features and extra content. A freemium strategy can benefit startups because it helps gather users quickly and later upsell them on premium functionality if they like the platform.
If your platform’s eLearning model is based on selling content like courses, then it turns into a marketplace. With this strategy, you can generate revenue by collecting commissions from creators’ sales.
Consider using a mix of monetization strategies to ensure a consistent and high return on investment. For instance, you can collect a small commission from sales as well as serve relevant ads.
How to develop educational software for kids
Once you have an idea for your eLearning solution, you need to validate it. By validating your idea before beginning production, you can understand if it’s realistic, valuable to potential customers, and has a chance of generating revenue.
Good ideas often sprout from identifying a problem that needs to be solved. In addition, existing solutions on the market might have issues that you can omit in your software, making it better and more attractive to users. You must conduct target audience research as well as competitor research to identify how in-demand your solution will be.
Find and hire developers
After you finish the market analysis, it’s best to construct a simple and short request for proposal (RFP) that describes the project. An RFP is handy when looking for eLearning development companies, because it helps you concisely communicate requirements, saves time when presenting ideas, and makes negotiations easier.
Here’s what a well-designed request for proposal should include.
Finding and hiring a trustworthy development partner is a big deal. If you’re starting your search from zero and don’t have suitable recommendations from business acquaintances, it might be tough to know where exactly you should start.
Depending on the scope of work, your budget, and your development experience, you can go with an agency or a freelancer. Our article Hire Django Developers: Freelancers vs Agencies compares the two choices and discusses their pros and cons to help entrepreneurs pick the best option based on the project’s needs. In the article, you can also see a list of established resources where you can find development companies or freelancers.
In brief, Clutch is one of the most well-known platforms for finding software development partners. It has practically anything you could want to find during basic research: company reviews, services, ratings, and portfolios. Feedback is comprehensive and can give you the gist of how it is to work with a company. And since Clutch verifies reviews, you can be confident in their integrity.
If you choose to go the freelance route, through Upwork you can find experienced programmers, designers, and analysts to hire for your project.
One last tip — if you don’t have prior experience in educational software development, it’s best to check your candidates’ experience in the field and examine their eLearning case studies. Since your product’s target audience is going to be children, it’s key that your development team is knowledgeable about eLearning development best practices to avoid rookie mistakes.
The pre-discovery and discovery phases are pivotal if you want to achieve smooth development and a successful product. During these phases, the team conducts deep research, estimates the development time, prepares requirements, and crafts the user design. Read how we collaborate on projects with our partners.
What happens at this stage is obvious — developers code and quality engineers test. During development, it’s vital to support constant communication. A project comprises many tasks that need to be done, and they are often interdependent. Effective communication helps you and the team to be on the same page and detect and resolve misunderstandings early.
Communication can take place through tools and meetings. Email, file sharing, instant messaging, project management software, and video conferencing are just some of the basic communication tools we employ for effective teamwork.
At Steelkiwi, we use six types of meetings to ensure your idea is turned into a high-quality solution:
- Kick-off meetings
- Planning meetings
- Technical meetings
- Daily meetings
- Demo meetings
- Retrospective meetings
It’s crucial that you participate throughout the development process, provide feedback, and monitor whether the work being done is in line with the project vision. Being engaged with the development of the project and the team raises the chances of achieving an understanding and positive relationship between the parties and successful project completion.
Cost of eLearning development
The cost of custom eLearning software development obviously depends on the type of solution you plan to build. All cost evaluations that you can find in articles are going to be based on other projects that can vary a lot in terms of technology, number of developers, and design.
Hence, it’s best to book a consultation with a development company you like, describe your idea, and discuss your requirements to get an individualized estimate that you can be confident in. At Steelkiwi, you can receive a free consultation and project estimate. Just write us a note.
However, we don’t want to leave you high and dry, so we want to share how many hours it took us to build a minimum viable product for QniQr, an educational marketplace for children.
The cost of developing an eLearning project of this scale can be between $40,000 and $50,000.
Steelkiwi’s experience in educational software development for children
Our client Marcelo approached us with an idea for a unique product for kids and teenagers to learn money management. He conducted several interviews with parents and children which validated the concept. Together, we created QniQr, a marketplace where young users can buy, sell, and exchange items.
The Steelkiwi team engineered a safe and appealing marketplace that children can enjoy and parents can trust. Caregivers have a complete overview of children’s actions on the platform, can set spending limits, and can create controls for each kid individually. QniQr doesn’t run any ads and has strong safeguards and anti-bullying policies in place.
Parents have a full overview of their kids’ actions on QniQr and can set spending limits and controls for each child individually. Additionally, QniQr respects users and doesn’t run any advertisements.
We crafted the design from the top, added animations, and selected a color pattern and fonts that were well received by young users. Children’s photos are forbidden on QniQr to protect privacy. A user’s profile avatar changes (from a group of pictures) every time the user logs in. Also, children aren’t permitted to give their real names. Instead, they can come up with nicknames.
The front end was developed using React, and we used Next.js to optimize the platform’s speed and SERP ranking. Redux was used for the website’s frontend architecture. Since Redux is strict about how code is organized, which makes code more consistent and easier to work with. The structure of the code that Redux provides allows for easier maintenance and scalability.
For the back end, the Steelkiwi team used Python and Django along with PostgreSQL for database management. Redis was implemented for caching and task queueing. On top of the standard backend technologies, we used the Centrifugo WebSocket server to enable real-time messaging.
We also integrated multiple third-party tools:
- Mangopay: A UK payment solution for marketplaces
- Besedo: A content moderation service powered by AI filters and experts that we used for image moderation
- Twilio: A tool for text messages that was implemented to send verification codes and to notify parents about kids’ activities
- Zendesk support: A moderation instrument that we integrated to moderate comments and item descriptions. We also used Zendesk widgets to provide feedback forms where users can easily report inappropriate content.
- getAddress: An API for retrieving addresses that we implemented to make filling in the address form more convenient
In the end…
Building solutions for kids is a job best entrusted to experienced developers. Software for children can generate high revenue, but it also means that the software’s creators are able to impact the young generation. It is a great responsibility and should be handled carefully.
At Steelkiwi, we have knowledge and experience of the development limits and challenges that can emerge when building software for young users. And we know how to resolve them. Contact us to start working on an educational product for children so you can confidently enter the market.