How Teachers Find and Buy Apps

As you might already know, Happi Papi runs a free App Evaluation Program for Schools with almost 3000 teachers from all over the world participating. Normally, we use the program to let educators test our own and our partners’ iPad apps for free and provide us with valuable feedback on how to improve the apps.

About a month ago we deviated a little from our normal format and took the opportunity to ask “our” teachers some questions about their app purchase process such as how they discover apps, what type of apps they prefer (free, freemium or paid) and how they pay for apps. When you read the below conclusions, please keep in mind that the teachers surveyed here are teachers who have signed up to receive iPad apps for free. In survey lingo this means there is a selection bias present.


General Conclusion

If you want to know how to get teachers to choose your app in one sentence it would sound something like this: Create a free app that work on iPad 2 and market it on Facebook. For most of us developers that wasn’t really newsworthy. It would most likely have been everybody’s educated guess.

However, when we look at the answer breakdown a little bit more closely we find that what to sell to teachers, where to market it and how to charge for it, is not as clear as it was stated above. Let me try to break it down for you:


Teachers and IAP’s

While most teachers (52%) have a negative or very negative opinion of In App Purchases (IAP’s) and even more teachers (80%) finds it not ok or questionable for developers to use IAP’s for content expansion in educational apps, they still buy these type of apps.

In fact, only free apps are more common (41%) in classrooms than apps with IAP’s (36%). Paid apps are a distant third at 23% and other business models, for example subscription based, are hardly even on the map.



The best way to sum it all up is to say that teachers don’t seem to know for sure how they prefer to purchase their apps. This is even more clear when the question is asked a little differently. While only 22% of teachers are positive to IAP’s, 68% still thought the freemium model to be a good way to test an app before committing.


Where To Market Your Apps

If there is no clear answer to how teachers prefer to buy their apps, it is a lot more clear where they go to find the apps they use in their classrooms. Forums and Social Networks (like Parents with Apps, FB and Pinterest) are the most common places for teacher app discovery (33%). In shared second place come review sites and browsing the App Store (23%). An interesting point here is that if you want to make it easy for teachers to find your apps you should not fall for any of the very frequent SEO offers you receive in your inbox. Only 2% of teachers say they find the apps they like through search engines.


Paying Their Own Way

Another interesting, but not very shocking, statistic is who pays for the apps teachers use in the classroom. 48% of all teachers say they have to pay for apps themselves as their school has no budget for this purpose. Related to this point is the fact that a third of all teachers are not allowed by their school to pay for app content through In App Purchases.


Teachers and Android Don’t Mix

Before looking at what conclusions to draw from all this, let us look at what type of hardware teachers are sporting. A whopping 74% of all teachers have iPad 2’s in their classroom compared to only 3% who have an Android tablet. Interesting to know is also that more classrooms have iPod Touches (25%) than iPad 1 (24%) and iPad 3 (22%).

What conclusions then can we draw from our little study?
The only clear answers we got were that there are almost no Android devices in classrooms and teachers don’t like In App Purchases. The latter piece of information is however somewhat negated by the fact that teachers seem to use a lot of apps with IAP’s even though they say that they don’t care for them.

There was another clear choice among teachers as well; forums and social networks are the places they go to most for advice on what apps to use. But even though this answer choice was the clear winner, only a third of teachers use FB, Pinterest etc as there favorite app discovery method. For us developers that unfortunately means that we still have to cover a lot of bases to make sure our apps are noticed – Just as our gut feeling has told us all along…

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  • Tim McKay

    Very interesting results! I find that IAP has it’s ups and downs. I am surprised that Android didn’t make the cut in this case. Anybody else surprised by that?

  • Sarah

    Thanks for posting! I found it interesting that within your sample group, 48% (nearly half the respondents) are actually indifferent or have a positive view of IAPs. It’s not a full swing one way or the other. I’ll be curious to see what the numbers are like a year from now. I was also surprised that 2/3 of the respondents are in fact allowed to purchase IAPs for school devices, though I’ve heard that there can be issues with teachers being reimbursed for them (in contrast to paid apps). I’m curious to know how many teachers responded to the survey, Patrick. And are the vast majority of them from the States?

  • Aaron

    I’m curious if your methodology is rigorous enough that we can use this as actual evidence of teacher behavior. For example, it wouldn’t be surprising to me that a company which makes only iOS apps would have a survey that came back wish a response indicating teachers don’t use other OS’s. Did you reach out to teachers/users who are not part of your current user base?

    I’m very skeptical of your number that says “74% of teachers” have Ipad 2’s in their classrooms, which seems to indicate to me that you might have a particular selection bias in your survey respondents. My experience is that a very small minority of teachers have access to tablet devices in your classroom. For us other developers who read your blog, is there any chance you could make more raw statistical data available from your survey?

    • happipapi

      There is definitely a selection bias in this survey as the teachers we are asking are teachers who have signed up for our free App Evaluation Program for iPad apps.

      We will update the post with this information. Thanks for pointing it out.
      /patrick, Happi Papi

  • Jeffrey Henning

    How many responses did you get to your survey? Thanks, this information on app discovery was very helpful.

    • happipapi

      We received a little more than 300 replies to our survey.

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