Chapter 4: Education
RESEARCH BY APP CATEGORY
What we found for educational apps
With a full return to normality in the classroom for most schools worldwide, time on educational and learning apps decreased overall for the second year in a row, as anxious parents no longer needed to fill spare lockdown hours with educational content. Globally, kids spent 12% less time cramming new languages and quizzing across 2022, bringing their average use of learning apps on personal devices to just 7 minutes daily.
For the first time in our research, we have included popularity rankings from school devices. These devices could be either provided by the school, which is usually the case in the United States and Australia, or devices used during school hours, such as in the UK and Spain, where children frequently use their own devices with school software installed or separate login details.
The data collected from these devices is presented separately from personal devices used during out-of-school time, where our research focused primarily on learning apps with an educational purpose, such as gamified language-learning app Duolingo.
Gathered largely from school-provided devices, Family Zone group insights reveal the top 10 most popular learning-related apps and websites kids used across 2022.
As seen in our family surveys, penetration of computer-based learning in schools is higher in the US and Australia. In the US, 79% of kids currently use a device in school, with the majority using a device provided by the school. Australia is not far behind, with 76% of children using either school-provided devices or a BYOD (bring your own device) system. Only 13% of US kids and 16% of Australian children did not use any devices in the classroom.
Because of higher device penetration in these countries, we found that specific classroom management apps and websites in both the US and Australia ranked highly in their top 10s. In the US, learning platform Google Classroom was the top choice, followed by single-sign on digital classroom provider Clever. Rounding out the US top 3 was virtual and blended learning management system (LMS) GradPoint, the number 1 pick for classroom use in Australia.
LMS Canvas also appeared in the top 10 in both countries. Australia’s final top 3 choice was writing assistant Grammarly, helping kids keep their spelling, grammar, and punctuation in check throughout the day.
Other popular learning-based tools sought to gamify the education process and boost interactivity in the classroom, such as educational game website ABCya! and game-based quiz platform Kahoot!
School devices featured in this report in the UK and Spain offer a different picture of the top 10 most popular classroom-based apps and websites children use. The education systems in the UK and Spain are much less technology-centered, as reflected in our parent survey.
66% of children in the UK either bring a device from home to school, or make use of a school-provided device. Spain follows closely behind, with 63% penetration, although device usage in the classroom is increasing on a yearly basis. Despite the increment, classroom management apps and systems were much lower down on the popularity scale, with schools opting for specific learning tools and applications, and applying them in a classroom-based setting.
British children and teachers’ top pick was the BBC, which aside from news, offers learning resources such as spelling and vocabulary practice. Both Spain and the UK placed Wikipedia in second, making it one of the go-to resources for children looking to find out more about their learning topic.
Google Docs featured as the Spanish number 1, but ranked only fourth, just behind Microsoft Word, in the UK. Interactive service Live Worksheets took third place in Spain, bringing traditional, printed worksheets into an online setting.
Other popular tools designed to make work easier in UK and Spanish classrooms were content generator Genial.ly, and Microsoft products Powerpoint, Excel and Word. Gamified learning was also a popular resource in both countries, with Kahoot! featuring on both top 10 lists, and student engagement platform Quizizz ranking ninth in Spain.
Kids across the world looked to Duolingo to get their daily dose of language practice, crowning it king of the learning apps for the third year in a row. The same trend appeared in all countries examined, while game-based learning service Kahoot! and math-problem helper Photomath vied for second place. In the US and Spain, Photomath claimed the second spot, while the UK and Australia’s choice was Kahoot!
WordReference Dictionary proved to be a popular learning tool for kids worldwide, providing the meaning of words at the tap of a button. Quizlet featured in every country’s top 5 save Spain, where fifth position went to online math and reading tool Smartick, which failed to secure a place in any other ranking across 2022.
Time spent: Personal devices
Quiz apps were where children chose to spend most of their time across 2022, getting in the guesses on gamified learning apps, though daily use of Kahoot! and Quizlet declined by 11% from 2021. Globally and in Spain, kids spent an average of 13 minutes per day on Kahoot!, with this number rising to 14 per day in the US, and dropping in the UK and Australia to just 11.
Kids’ most popular choice, Duolingo, was used for 10 minutes a day on a global level, in the UK, and Spain, while children in Australia and the US challenged themselves to learn a language for two extra minutes per day, rounding out their average to 12 minutes. The only learning app to experience an increase in daily use was interactive math and vocabulary platform Smartick, which Spanish children spent 12% more time on across 2022, boosting daily minutes from 26 to 29.
Kids in Australia spent the most time on learning apps throughout the year, averaging 9 daily minutes across 2022. Starting the new year out on good footing, they spent 11 minutes per day on learning tools, but soon changed track, hitting a low point of 6 daily minutes in June. By the end of the year, however, Australia bounced back, with kids spending 11 daily minutes on their favorite educational platforms – a feat which their Spanish, US, and UK counterparts didn’t manage to replicate.
Children in Spain and the UK spent the least amount of time on learning-based apps across 2022, spending an average of 6 minutes daily. While children in Spain crammed in extra minutes over the summer season, hitting 10 daily minutes over July and August, they followed this period with a 3-month slump of just 5 minutes a day spent on educational apps, where British children met them in November.
What we expect for educational apps
As the years go by, the classroom becomes more and more digitally friendly, but some countries have further to go than others. Technology-based learning is still a privilege, with factors such as cost and availability affecting how easily it can be applied in the classroom – and affecting home use even further.
As devices become more prominent in a learning environment, so too will the need for a school-home connection. Devices, once a school-based tool only in some regions, will begin their journey out of the classroom, meaning school applications, work, and even security setup will need to be consistent wherever they travel, including the home. We anticipate that over the coming years, parents and guardians will become more involved in school device setup, and vice versa, with educators and teachers collaborating more with families to create a balance, in and out of the classroom.
In the countries analyzed in our report, we expect EdTech to go from strength to strength, with learning management systems, rather than simple education tools and websites, becoming more frequently adopted in the countries where current use is sparse. In turn, as device use in such countries becomes more frequent in the classroom, we anticipate that kids’ use of learning apps on personal devices will level out or continue to decline, with kids having less need to use their own tablets or computers to complete educational tasks.
What we recommend for educational apps
Just because something is educational, doesn’t mean it has to be boring! There’s a lot to be learned on apps that aren’t directly related to schoolwork. Technology can be a great way for families to learn new things together, like map reading, languages, coding, and endless other useful and practical skills. Educational apps don’t have to be solitary, confined to study time only. They’re a fantastic opportunity for the whole family to take part in learning challenges and expand knowledge together.
Time spent on educational apps is largely seen as a productive and positive application of energy and time, and while that’s mostly the case, balance is always the key. Even if educational, screen time should still be granted in moderation, especially with kids spending more time than ever before in front of devices while at school.
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