This month’s Verto Index looks at the most popular education brands (websites and apps), from Duolingo to Blackboard. Following our practice from last year, for the purpose of this Index, we focused on properties 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.
The Ten Most Popular Education Brands
As we noted last year, digital learning and remote education still remains something of a niche market; Duolingo, the top-ranking education brand (based on monthly unique users among U.S. adults, ages 18 and above), attracted just over 5 million monthly users. That’s well below half the monthly audience for some of the most popular mobile games – in comparison, Words With Friends claimed 12.3 million monthly users, according to the latest Verto Index: Mobile Games, and The New York Times racked up 55.3 million monthly visitors according to our Verto Index: News.
But despite the relatively small number of consumers who actively use education websites and apps, our rankings point to an interesting trend: the gamification of education. In addition to Duolingo, our ranking of the ten most popular education brands also includes Quizlet (with 4.9 million monthly users, it’s nipping at Duolingo’s heels) and Lumosity (2.3 million monthly users), brands that rely on a series of games and interactive activities to deliver their lessons and services. Our Index also demonstrates Microsoft’s ongoing interest in professional development through its LinkedIn Learning platform, which draws 3.4 million monthly users, beating out other like-minded online course providers like Udemy and Khan Academy.
The Most Engaging Education Brands: Ranking of the Stickiest
Stickiness is Verto’s measure of user engagement, comparing monthly users to daily users to determine those who are most engaged with a given app, website, or digital brand. Since learning and self-improvement are incremental processes – generally requiring small measures of progress to achieve and overall goal – stickiness is an especially valuable measure of not only user engagement, but effectiveness. Regular (even daily) use of an app or website is indicative of an engaged and motivated user – and effective and engaging learning content. Our analysis of the stickiest education brands points again to the popularity of gamified learning: at 36% stickiness, Lumosity is the stickiest education brand in our Index. But Lumosity’s metrics are something of an anomaly: the next two brands trail significantly, at 19% stickiness: Duolingo makes another appearance, but its stickiness is matched by Blackboard, which follows a more conventional online learning format.
Practice Makes Perfect: Repeated Use and Session Numbers
In addition to stickiness, the amount of time that users spend with a given education brand per month is also a useful indicator of user engagement as well as the effectiveness of the content, or learning material, that each brand uses. Our data shows the continued dominance of Lumosity and (to a lesser extent) Duolingo; in fact, the average Lumosity user spends nearly three and a half hours per month with the brand, racking up 15 sessions per month (or one session every other day). In comparison, the average Blackboard users racks up less than two hours of time spent per month and eleven monthly sessions. Duolingo, which markets itself as a language-learning app that requires just a few minutes of investment per day, averages nearly 1.25 hours of user time per month spread across twelve sessions.
LinkedIn Learning, Lumosity, and the Longest Session Durations
When it comes to longest session duration – or the amount of time that users spend with an education brand in one sitting – LinkedIn Learning is the leader, racking up an average session duration of nearly 17 minutes. Perhaps not coincidentally, the vast majority of LinkedIn Learning’s 3.4 million monthly users access the platform using a PC; only 5% of all users rely exclusively on mobile devices. In comparison, the average Lumosity user spends an average of about thirteen minutes per session, but half (51%) of its entire user base is mobile-only. However, LinkedIn Learning users only use the brand an average of three times per month, whereas Lumosity users use the brand 15 times per month. Does a mobile-friendly format encourage consistent, repeated use?