6 min read

Zero-Compromise Points to Make Engaging E-Learning Apps

The popularity of e-learning apps was already on the rise before 2020. But the pandemic has further propelled their status and they are now one of the mainstays of remote education. Unlike normal classes, e-learning apps don’t have an instructor. That is why it is all the more important to make these apps as engaging as possible. They need to hold the student’s attention and ensure what they learn sticks with them just like it would in a traditional offline class. Here we outline some tricks to make e-learning apps more engaging.

Smooth UI/UX: Don’t make the user wait


The most important feature to make an engaging e-learning app is ensuring it is easy to use and that people want to use it. Laggy and buggy apps will instantly turn any learners off your platform. Nothing should stand in their way from completing the course and gaining the knowledge, especially not buffering videos or “please wait” loading screens. The more attractive and smooth the experience of using the app is, the more engagement it will have. The dashboard they interact with first should be clear and they should easily be able to find where they left off last time. Being able to see how close you are to the finish line and what your progress so far is, is an added bonus.

Incorporating Interactivity: Get the user involved


Instead of the students being passive learners who sit back and watch a video on the screen or read a piece of text, you should make sure the app has interactivities that will force them to physically engage with the computer. Try to include as many interactivities as possible. This can include needing an active response, perhaps on a quick revision question, before the course can proceed. You can also incorporate drag-and-drop activities, trigger-based actions, and game-based content.

Short Modules for Microlearning: Reduce the user’s cognitive load

Most people are put off immediately when they see that the video they are supposed to watch is over an hour long. People do not have the patience to sit and listen to long lectures when they don’t have to and will often turn to social media apps on their phones instead. To prevent this, make sure your learning content is in small easily digestible chunks that can keep them engaged for a longer period of time. If your app is on the mobile, your window of time is even shorter. People turn to their phones for short bursts of activity before switching to another task. Lessons should be designed in such a way that they are able to consume them in short bursts of learning on the go.

Reviews and Ratings: Ask the user to share their feedback

Ratings and reviews are very valuable to help people decide if they want to engage with the course or not. Users can rate the instructor, clarity, and relevance of the course while providing feedback and tips for other learners to peruse. Positive ratings on a course see higher user engagement. It will also be a good guide for you to judge what kind of courses and instructors are clicking with the users and what can be improved in the app. 

User chat: Let users talk to each other


A chat for the course where students can engage with each other will drive up engagement by creating a community of learners that interact organically without your interference. This section can be used by students to solve doubts, share tips and get clarity on concepts without the need for intervention by the instructor. This will not only create more of a traditional classroom atmosphere, but the fast resolution to the learners’ problems will also encourage them to ask more questions and engage with the course more. Udemy uses this method to drive up engagement, especially in particularly complicated courses.

Downloadable Resources: Let users engage with the course material offline

Resources and additional study material in the form of PDFs, videos, and audio files can be made available offline to the students so they engage with the course even when not actively taking the class. Downloadable PDF assignments will make the students engage with the course in a more traditional manner and make them think about what they are learning outside of the class. Many YouTube classes often have downloadable PDF assignments, questionnaires, and tests in the description and these freebies attract more learners.

Personalized experience: Suggest similar courses that can enrich the user’s learning experience

To maintain high retention among students and ensure they feel compelled enough to click on the next course after completing the current one, you can use the power of machine learning to offer them personalized recommendations. Through machine learning your app can consider similar courses to the one a user just finished, as well as the most popular courses on the app, and offer a myriad of recommended options for the user to choose from.

Notifications: Nudge the user to complete tasks that are pending

Notifications are used to remind students of their progress on a course and motivate them to keep learning. Through notifications you can inform students about how many hours they have left in a course, what course they can take next, how many days “streak” they have achieved by engaging with the course, any announcements from the instructor, class discussions, and much more. These notifications can be in the form of email or push notifications. But one should be careful not to overuse this feature and bombard the user with needless notifications that might tempt them to uninstall the app. They should also have an option to opt-out completely or choose which notifications they prefer.

AR/VR: Help the user visualize their learning outcomes

Although virtual and augmented reality has not yet achieved success in fields like gaming and entertainment that were once expected of them, they are making great strides in the field of education and e-learning. AR/VR is being used in schools to help students visit historical sites, see a geographical phenomenon like wind systems move, meet different kinds of animals, explore how the inside of the human body works, and more. AR/VR is not being used just by schools and universities, but also by corporations like Microsoft for practically training their employees. The potential is endless.

Gamification: Entice the user with rewards for favorable behavior

Learning by playing makes what you learn stick longer in your brain. Apps like Duolingo and Disprz use this concept to keep users engaged in learning by tempting them to reach the next level and earn gold coins/ social currency. Short quizzes at the end of each lesson where a user has to answer simple questions to earn points and advance is an easy, yet engaging, way to keep users wanting to learn more.

Peer to peer learning: Facilitate user collaboration


In peer-to-peer learning, students learn from each other. It tends to make the students feel part of a learning community, motivated to learn more, and be more engaged with the course. There are several ways in which peer-to-peer learning can be incorporated into an app. Collaborating on a group assignment, just like in the traditional classroom, is a good way to build teamwork. The assignment should be specific with well-defined timelines and deliverables. Peer review assignments are another way to include peer-to-peer learning. The instructors can be mere facilitators and the students can post their assignments on a forum where other students can give feedback. It can lead to constructive feedback and higher engagement when the students see how their colleagues are faring in the course. Skillshare uses this method whereby students leave their completed projects below each class for other students to comment on.


E-Learning apps lie on a fascinating tipping point between traditional education and what the future holds. To truly capture the market share as well as become instrumental in a user’s learning journey, e-learning apps must employ innovative methods to hold the user’s attention.  A combination of any or all of the above-mentioned points is sure to drive up user engagement in any e-learning app and ensure that students keep coming back for more.

Aniket Agarwal