Verto Index: Education Properties
This month for the first time, the Verto Index looks at the most popular education properties among U.S. adults (ages 18 and over), from TED to eCollege. For the purpose of this Index, we focused on properties (websites and apps) that target the adult population (post K-12) and we excluded portals run by established universities, such as Harvard and MIT’s online learning offerings. Remote learning properties have greatly expanded the post-K12 offerings available online, but the sector remains susceptible to market whims: the recent shut-down of several high-profile coding bootcamps underscores the fact that many adult-education startups are still struggling with their business models and quality of their product in a competitive market.
TED Dominates a Niche Market
According to Verto Analytics data, digital education still appears to be a niche market: even TED, the top-ranking property on our Index, still only claimed about 6.4 million monthly unique users in August 2017. This is low compared to top-ranking properties from our other recent Verto Indexes, such as health and fitness (Fitbit had 23.6 million monthly unique users in July 2017) and mobile games (Words With Friends reported 13 million monthly unique users in March 2017).
Beyond TED, monthly user numbers and reach shrink quickly: Duolingo, the second most popular education property on the Verto Index, claimed just 4.8 million monthly unique users in August 2017, equating to just a two percent reach in the online universe. And the 10th-highest ranking property on our Index, eCollege, has just over 1.5 million monthly unique users.
Which Education Properties are the Stickiest?
Stickiness is how Verto measures user engagement, by comparing daily users to monthly users of a given property. An analysis of the stickiest education properties on our Index show that language-learning and brain-training/memory enhancement properties attract some of the most engaged users. In addition to the online learning platform Blackboard, Duolingo, Memrise, and Lumosity all report stickiness of 20% or more. While this falls well below the stickiness of properties in the health and fitness or mobile games sector, it still provides a solid indicator of user engagement.
For example, Blackboard, the stickiest property on this Index, racks up an average of 19 sessions per user per month, but each of those sessions lasts an average of nearly 10minutes – a notable length of time for a user to remain engaged and active. Lumosity shows an even greater frequency of user interaction: its users total an average of 40 sessions per user per month (or more than one session per day), although it attracts shorter session durations, which last an average of about 3.5 minutes.
Is there a Relationship between Mobile and Stickiness?
The high rate of a mobile-only user base is another interesting characteristic shared by most of the stickiest education properties on our Index. Duolingo, Lumosity, and Memrise reach two-thirds or more of their audience exclusively through mobile devices. Is an app – or at least a mobile-first philosophy – the key to stickiness and a higher rate of user engagement?
Desktops Still Rule Longer User (and Learning) Sessions
While mobile-forward properties are winning the stickiness battle, desktops still continue to attract the longest session durations. And depending on the use case, these uninterrupted learning sessions may be the most effective way to learn certain subjects. Properties like Cengage and Khan Academy, which offer classes in complex topics like multivariable calculus and computer science, have some of the longest continuous session durations as well as the lowest percentage of mobile-only users: the average session duration on Cengage is nearly 21 minutes long, almost double the average session duration as Khan Academy (and more than triple the length of an average Duolingo session).
The online education landscape still seem poised for more growth and differentiation, as specialized properties (such as Duolingo) build up their stickiness using mobile-forward strategies and more generalized properties (such as Khan Academy) leverage the depth of their content to drive engagement via desktop. Interestingly, no coding bootcamps ranked in our Index this year, but as that market continues to consolidate, we may see a few shake-ups in the rankings over the next 12 months.