The best things in life are free and simple, and this adage was proved again on March 11, when Khan Academy introduced their iPad application. Owing to the popularity of Khan Academy, the free application is in great demand, and registered approximately 17,500 downloads in the very first day — making it the top educational app, and sixth moth popular app on Apple’s iTunes store.
In this article, we will try to explore why Khan Academy’s app is in so much demand, and what would be its impact on other educational applications.
Reasons for being the most sought–after application
Many people would believe that the major reason behind high download number is that the application is free. However, this is just one of the secondary reasons. In fact, had this been the primary reason, then the application would have seen gradual increase in downloads over a period of time, when search strings for ‘free educational app’ would have shown it in results.
The major reason behind the downloads, is the goodwill that Khanacademy.org had created over time. The brand name is so big that had they brought the app under the freemium model (Khanacademy.org for free and the app for a premium) they would have still got the desired result.
What’s the USP?
Besides the goodwill, other major USP of Khan Academy is its volume of content. It currently has a library of over 3,000 free educational videos, lectures and exercises on various subjects. Though the exercises are not available on app at present, the videos are enough for students to download and sync onto their iPads for watching in offline mode.
Another USP is the transcriptions of the videos. The transcriptions not only help students to understand the videos in a better way, bus also work as bookmarks to help students scroll back and forth — as they do with the books.
The app is also not heavy. The 2.9 MB app allows readers to access the whole library without saving it locally. The only content, which readers have to download and sync onto their iPads, are the videos that they wish to access offline.
How will it impact other app developers?
Needless to say, other educational app developers are going to witness stiff competition from Khan Academy. The application is free; it already enjoys consumer loyalty, and has a critical volume of content.
One of the areas, where we believe other application developers can compete with Khan Academy is to make their apps dynamic by including students’ involvement. Khan Academy’s content is primarily in form of videos, and lacks dynamic interaction between teachers and students — the same old problem that web 2.0 addressed.
Secondly, Khan Academy’s app, at present, is only for iPad. Developers have the opportunity to reach students by creating content for other tablets, and bundling the apps with hardware. This will prove to be an important area, if students start going for less expansive tablets such as Akash and ATab.
However, in the long run, the competition is only going to increase. As Khan Academy is supported by major donations from donors such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Google — the only determining factor for sustainability will be — quality.