What is the definition of an educational app? We’d argue that it is a program, or game, which teaches you something you didn’t know before, or expands on previous taught skills and abilities.
But simply learning something new isn’t really enough. Most normal games teach you something, even if it just is “Touch this and it’s game over”. Having a creative content doesn’t cut it either. After all, playing with a virtual puppy or with virtual blocks might inspire you and stimulate your imagination, but downright teach you something? Probably not. For it to be an educational app, it would have to teach you something that makes you better and more productive, or gives you some necessary skills.
Little educational value
Take a look at the app market of your chosing, under the educational category. Right now, just looking at the Top 25 over paid apps, you might see at least 5 apps, which doesn’t exactly fit into the category. Some of them are simple toys without any kind of educational content, even if they are fun and creative toys.
Why, then, do these apps continue to pop up, and in some cases, dominate in the Educational Apps category?
The answer might be, that there’s no real control over what categories you assign your app to. No one makes sure that the app where you make sandwiches to anthropomorphic animals is indeed educational or more fitting for, say, the Games category.
Is the answer seperation?
Perhaps the real problem is, that there’s not category fitting for children games or apps. Them being shunted into Education might make some sense, from a developer’s point of view. But it does cause some problems.
First of all, genuine educational apps and games are easily lost in the heap of often well-made but not very educational apps. This makes it difficult to find the right app without wading through a sea of unrelated content.
Secondly, it makes for poor return of investment for any teachers looking for potential teaching aids. No teacher has the time to download and try out that many apps, hoping to find the burried treasure.
The solution to this problem could be a seperation of general children oriented content and educational content. I’m sure there’s some overlap between the two categories, but it would cut down on the trouble and hassle potential purchasers face, when looking for educational content for their phones and tablet.
Apple’s doing it. Google..?
Back in June, when Apple presented their new iOS7 operational system for mobile platforms, one of the, to us, major updates will be the introduction of a category for children. Instead of having apps and games for children spread across the entire App Store, they will in the future be showcased in a single, curated category.
Our hope is that Google will follow in their footsteps and introduce something similar. Google Play for Education, launching sometime this fall, might possibly be the answer to our prayers. Either way, fall 2013 looks to be very interesting for educational apps!