Although K-12 schools are always facing challenges like budgetary constraints, new regulations and changing demands from parents, they need to overcome those hurdles to provide students with the highest quality of education. So, just like almost every business or organization in the digital age, schools are turning to technology for the solutions they need to achieve the best outcomes.
To develop software applications that will provide your clients — and students and their families — with the greatest value, include these in-demand education software features.
1. Access to Real-Time Data
Matt Coffman, COO of MomentPath child care management software, says the most important thing for ISVs remember when they’re developing applications for this vertical is that an increasingly mobile and connected audience will be interacting with your applications. “Parents, educators, students all have a growing expectation for engagement and evidence of accomplishment and progress,” Coffman says. “All of these audiences, through social media and other communication applications, have come to expect timely feedback and updates. Software developers must build solutions that incorporate real-time data collection, processing, and availability through a variety of channels and connected devices.”
2. Support for Engaged Learning
Christine McDonnell, CEO and Co-Founder of Codelicious, says elementary and middle school educators want to implement an engaged learning model in their classrooms in which students and educators collaborate to solve problems. “The trend to move away from the independent, self-pacing model of independent learning while building computer science skills in elementary and middle school students should encourage developers to design software that promotes collaboration and interaction,” she says. “The use of active exploration of real-world challenges and problems through project-based learning promotes curiosity, interest, and active engagement while developing problem-solving and analytical skills so necessary for the 21st-century workforce.”
Coffman says ISVs are familiar with the value of personalization in the consumer software space. “Personalized experiences lead to better user engagement and, more importantly, better outcomes,” explains Coffman. “Software developers in the education vertical can learn from the practices of personalization providers to better inform the delivery of individualized learning experiences.”
Because personalization platforms collect massive amounts of data and determine which behavior patterns lead to specific outcomes, education software developers can mine data about user interactions and correlate them with the outcomes educators want to achieve.
4. Integration with PaaS
Coffman also points out that Platform-as-a-Service offerings are enabling educators to create their own applications. “In the new landscape, software architects and developers must have an awareness of these services and how to best connect and utilize them,” he says. “Software developers must focus on the unique value they can contribute on top of these composed services.”
5. AI, VR and AR, When Appropriate
It’s easy to imagine a world in which students visit virtual reality classrooms or use augmented reality to learn in existing environments in a new way. Coffman points out that those technologies may not be the best choice in every situation. “In early learning, for example, there is often no substitute for the physical interaction provided by group play activities. Recreating those experiences virtually might be possible, but it might not lead to the same quality of experience for students,” he says. “The key to incorporating new technologies, no matter how promising, is to determine if and how they will best benefit the user audience.”
McDonnell adds, “The value to be gained by bringing some of these new technologies is seen when they are leveraged to help a student understand a challenging concept or create an authentic, engaging, and complex question that helps achieve desired student outcomes.”
Don’t Forget the Big Picture
When you’re developing applications for education, Coffman reminds software developers always to remember the users they serve. “It can be difficult to balance the needs of educators, families, students, government organizations, and other stakeholders, but the true art of software development is learning from all these constituents and building products that seamlessly serve them all,” he says. “Taking the time to actively measure and learn from user behavior is a big step towards understanding opportunities for constant improvement. If software developers continuously incorporate that feedback into their development activities, they will always align with helping users achieve the most value.”