Like everything else, students' studying moves to mobile

By Carmel DeAmicis , written on October 18, 2013

From The News Desk

Every quarter, members of the technorati wait on tenterhooks for Facebook's earnings call. The big question: Has it figured out mobile revenue yet? People believe that mobile may be the thing to make or break a behemoth like Facebook. Or Google. Or Yahoo. Mobile is where users are spending the most amount of time, so it's where the ad money goes. Those who can't monetize on mobile are doomed to a long, slow death. Or so the thinking goes.

Well, just like in social networks, search engines, travel, transportation, health, and every other conceivable industry, mobile is also transforming education.

Startup StudyBlue has seen this firsthand. It helps students by crowdsourcing flashcards. People taking different classes in high school and college create study notes in the application, and can access their own and other people's cards. The service acts like Wikipedia, where people are able to edit each other's flashcards to improve the information. The best flashcards rise to the top, because they're seen and shared the most.

StudyBlue has been around since 2009, so it has seen the evolution of student learning as mobile got more and more popular. It also has a unique insight into the stats behind study habits, since the company can track where students are studying through its applications.

When the application first launched, 100 percent of study card creation happened on the browser and 75 percent of the studying. Now, StudyBlue says that 50 percent of the studying happens on user's phones, and much more of the card creation happens on tablets.

The stats are unsurprising, but they point to a trend that hasn't been discussed much. Students' studying is going mobile. "The usage is very strong and continues to be one of the most dominant trends we see," StudyBlue CEO Becky Splitt says. "Students study anywhere on the go in small increments."

What does this mean for edtech companies? Just like in other industries, mobile applications can't be an afterthought. It's not just individual students who are using mobile -- school districts are also investing millions of dollars in tablets to run education applications. Ed apps built natively for the mobile experience will have a leg up.

StudyBlue raised a $9 million Series A in January for just that strategy. The company is pouring far more resources into their mobile applications because Splitt believes that that is the future.