15 March 2021Comments are off for this post.

AI and Big Data in Logistics and Warehousing

Businesses are growing along with the advancement in technologies, especially AI and Big data; Logistics and Warehouses are one of the aspects of the more significant section of the businesses that are increasingly using these technologies to improve management and development. 

Automating the process has always been one of the highest priorities of businesses but gone are those days of old machines that did not involve such hi-tech support from the software point of view. 

In this post, we will be discussing two of the most exciting and hooked concepts, 

  1. AI and Big Data Playing a Major Role in Logistics
  2. Smart Warehouse - AI in Management 

Artificial Intelligence is often misrepresented or thought of when it comes to emerging technologies; When the term AI pops, people think it is the Tesla or the robotics, but AI is much more than the hardware. The ultimate goal of AI is to improve the outdated technology, cut-off the additional efforts, automate the processes, and make machines capable of doing the job. The best part is people accept such technology in business and test new ways to improve the management and development of the business models, production methods, and whatnot. 

However, does AI have a good hand in logistics? It is a brain-teasing question; it has a significant role to play and let me break down the uses and put the correct information. 

AI and Big Data Playing a Major Role in Logistics

What is logistics? Logistics is the flow of management from the origin till the consumer receives the goods. Managing such a flow is a tedious task, and outdated systems need an upgrade to improve this. 

Big Data in Management

In logistics, businesses have to keep even the smallest data from the head to the toes, and this is done for every product businesses manufacture. 

The R&D department uses this data to analyze how they can improve and bring more profits to the company and the consumer, but handling such huge data is complex, and many businesses still use the manual mode to analyze such huge data, also called the big data. 

A well-designed software allows such data to be handled and analyzed quickly without any upfront cost. Logistics is a careful task, and you do not want to mess the process, or there you are making losses in millions. 

Artificial Intelligence for Product Analysis

When you are a huge business that manufactures several products, how do you analyze which product is well-accepted and consumed by the users that are willing to pay? The traditional method involves the R&D team analyzing the market position and the number of sales that, in the end, leave an approximate estimation.

However, what if there was a software that did the complete analysis with numbers and graphs without having to spend any more money on the product analysis. The machine learning algorithms such as KNN can help the businesses to pick the correct numbers from a chart and number analysis and work on products that are not bringing profits to the company. This algorithmic approach helps the businesses remove the products that no longer interest the user but the units are still manufacturing. We create solutions that can help you analyze the products and predict if they still hold the value that customers are looking for in the current market. They can also collect information from multiple channels and predict the product value before you start the next manufacturing process. 

Managing Inventory using AI and Big Data

The head task in a manufacturing business is controlling the Inventory. If the products are produced more than what is required, it will ultimately be a loss if that product is no longer working, and on the other hand, if the number of products is less, the company would not be able to fulfill the user needs. 

Managing Inventory using the traditional method is outdated and time-consuming. The best way to reduce the time and improve efficiency is by using a dedicated inventory management software that analyses the product manufacturing quantity by using the previous data. Suppose you have the data for the past five years in numbers; AI can use these numbers and predict the manufacturing quantity for the current period. 

Besides, handling such data in a computer database is not an easy job, and the physical servers are a no good option as they consume a lot of resources and need heavy maintenance. Using the techniques of Big data and utilizing cloud storage can help you minimize the efforts you add in handling the inventory data. 

AI helping substitute the workforce in Logistics

Robotics are a great option to replace the maximum efforts humans put in handling the manufacturing processes. They can improve the efficiency and the speed in sorting the products, moving them from one environment to another, track the Inventory and other manufacturing. 

Besides, it minimizes the risk of life that workers face while the robots can do the same job much faster and safer. 

Most of the companies in the world, from the manufacturing of mobile phones to the assembling of cars, use AI in their units, and they are working great on the speed and efficiency metrics. 

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Big Data managing various types of data

Companies track every data that the manufacturing units produce in the whole process. This data is not the same at each development stage and analyzing such different data is a task.

The data collected is both structured and unstructured; consider it as a data lake. To separate this data and then take out a piece of meaningful information requires advanced technologies such as Big data. The first step in this process is to collect all the data and then separate them according to their type. Doing this process traditionally is time-consuming and is prone to errors on a larger scale. 

However, Big data has proved to help with the process by using Apache Hadoop's software medium. Such software is scaling for improvement, and Big data management is now becoming more effective and efficient in logistics and warehousing. 

AI and Big Data in improving Customer Experience

When a customer orders through an online service, they expect a few things such as 

  • On-time delivery 
  • Quality
  • Ease in returning the products or canceling them

AI and Big Data can help in this process by extracting the particular user data from the data lake and then using it to perform the following operations. Now, we already know the data is unstructured, and in this scenario, only AI can boost the process of locating the user information and then track the order to address the customer needs. 

Big data also helps in segregating the order type based on different metrics such as location, product ID, stock, and more. AI and Big Data can boost this process to bring more valuable customer experiences by taking customer feedback and then analyzing the performance more visually using the charts and the numbers. The best part about the Big data is, it eases the data handling and operating process. Our customized AI software helps in managing and providing a great customer experience that users are looking for. 

AI in logistics reduce the error

Humans are prone to errors, we make mistakes quite often, but sometimes, it may directly or indirectly affect the manufacturing industry or lead to a risk. Artificial intelligence takes the correct measurements and performs the right job as it is programmed to do so. Besides, Machine learning algorithms that are a part of AI help predict the performance of the tools, units, and the manual force used in the whole manufacturing process. We can create AI software that can help you manage the logistics process and predict the improvements for minimal errors. 

Best Examples

Let’s take a look at few examples of companies successfully using AI in warehousing and logistics:

Amazon, the world's most valuable brand, uses AI technology and robots in its warehouses to increase efficiency, create platforms for the warehouse and online store and anticipate and prevent issues in the customer journey.

Lineage Logistics, a company focusing on keeping food cold for stores and restaurants, uses AI to analyze the path of its orders. The AI algorithms can anticipate when orders will arrive and leave a warehouse, so that employees can put the pallets in the right position. Items that will stay at the warehouse longer are put further in the back, and items that move more quickly and won’t stay in the warehouse as long as placed towards the front. Since implementing smart placement through AI, Lineage has increased its efficiency by 20%.

Online retailer Zappos, which specializes in clothes and shoes, uses KIVA Systems in its center in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, to create a fully automated warehouse that helps them maintain free shipping, a 365-day return policy, and a full-time call center.

British online supermarket Ocado uses highly automated warehouses with robots that unpack inventory, plan and stack shelves, and move goods around the warehouses.

Smart Warehouses 

When we speak about smart, how can we miss the automation processes and interconnected technologies? Smart warehouses are the Zenith of automation that improves warehouse and inventory management. The interconnected technologies work together to reduce the error, increase productivity and efficiency, and minimize the human effort. 

Nevertheless, how does AI and Big Data fuel Smart Warehouses?

Smart Warehouses create an automated environment where goods are received, identified, sorted, organized, and pulled for shipment automatically with minimal human efforts. The result? Cost is saved, the risk of human life is reduced, productivity and efficiency at a peak, and the whole process is automatic. 

Smart Warehouses have three significant characteristics:

  • Agility
  • Scalability
  • Data Visibility

Agility

If you are a manufacturing company, you must be knowing how complex it is to manage an inventory and the interconnected systems. Smart warehouses help in creating a more efficient environment. Besides, there are a few solutions that help connect and automate different systems and improve the efficiency of the work. Your Smarthouse system should be able to understand the human needs and minimize them as the automation improves. 

Scalability

Humans can do limited operations on a per-day basis that restricts the speed of the whole process. AI components such as Robotics and Automation machines can improve the speed and work more efficiently, fastening the whole process and upbringing the business. 

Data Visibility

Warehouse data are not structured; when you analyze the data, you can find anomalies and confusion. This is because the data is not correctly collected and stored; the whole process is unprogrammed that can mess the whole process. However, using Big data, you can extract the need of the hour data without having to run through several files manually and then plotting a graph. Hadoop systems are extensively being used in manufacturing industries to facilitate the big data process and make the data visible when required. 

Smart Warehouse Elements 

Smart warehouses have many interconnected technologies that work along to complete the task. Let me break down a few for you. 

AI Robots

Robots are efficient in most of the warehouse working. They can help to relocate the products to other positions, and they can sort the products based on weight, category, and locations. Besides, the best usage is fastpacking of products that saves time and is an efficient method to improve productivity. 

Security and IoT

Warehouses have a lot of expensive items that can be stolen or tampered with. Traditional guards can be bribed to breach the security, but the modern-day RFID security systems that are made of IoT can solve this problem. You can use RFID cards to only allow an authorized person to enter the warehouse or use RFID to allow only authorized personnel to use certain machines and features of the Smart Warehouse. 

The IoT systems can also be used to improve smaller neglected conditions of work. They can be used to measure the machines' temperature or the working environment or used to show relevant information about the products received from the WMS. 

Warehouse Management System

When you have a smart warehouse, you also need to have efficient software that works along. The Warehouse Management System (WMS) allows you to keep track of how efficient your warehouse's day-to-day operations are and if you can improve on anything specific.

Our digital solutions help create such customizable software for smart warehouses and use the AI algorithms to improve the workflow of these processes. The AI algorithms will help you predict the areas where you can improve the automation or human processes. Additionally, the AI programs are self-learnable, and you can rely on them to analyze the stocks, returned items, and check for productivity on its own. 

Final Words

AI and Big data have a huge space in the Logistics and Smart Warehouses that improve productivity and efficiency in managing the whole process. The right time to invest in such technologies is right now, and we can create the customized software for you based on your needs. AI can help you predict the improvement sections and also do the right product analysis while the Big data tackles the data lake issue and gives you a more uniform and structured data that is meaningful. 


6 June 2019Comments are off for this post.

At Setapp we bring more to work than we think

Setapp is all about including everyone’s voice and talents. We are a diverse team, and we cherish our differences by creating an inclusive workplace. As we are proud of our team members, we would like to share their passions with you!

Meet Rafał – one of our software developers. At Setapp, Rafał does the front-end, back-end and infrastructure of the apps. Apart from that, he also gets involved with regular activities linked to our projects, which are always done as a team. For example, estimating the resources, analysing the requirements and conducting research to ensure that we find the most suitable solution for our clients' needs.

Before we start to talk about your passion – climbing – tell us why you decided to become a software developer?

Mainly because it gives me great satisfaction as I solve real problems. And the problems in this industry are never-ending, and often need to be solved with creative thinking. That’s why every day at this job is unique and absolutely fascinating!

Your hobby – climbing – is also very unique! How did you get into it? Did someone inspire you?

I was convinced by my girlfriend to go on my first climbing session. She is a more experienced climber, and she also has a climbing blog. I thought it was quite interesting – that’s why I decided to give it a go. I tried it, I liked it, and I wanted more!

When did that happen?

About a year ago.

Tell us a little bit more about your first climbing experience!

My first professional climbing experience was at a climbing course in Spain. Ironically, it turned out that I have a slight fear of heights, so the first climb up to around 30 meters was a real mental challenge for me!

rafał_1

In the beginning, our instructor took care of us. The path was quite simple, but climbing that high was a new, extreme experience. The following climbs were also quite stressful, yet the views of Spanish coast after successfully getting to the top of the rock, and the feeling of achieving the goal were the reasons I wanted more and more!

What do you consider your biggest success in your climbing adventure so far?

Definitely going beyond my own limits.

And the biggest failure?

When it comes to climbing, I try to not look at anything as a failure.

What do you like most about climbing?

The Adrenalin boost, overcoming my own limits and, obviously, climbing awesome rocks!

Is this the kind of sport you do by yourself, or you do it with other people?

It depends on the type of climbing. To climb some smaller rocks (bouldering), you don’t need anyone to help you. You can do it by yourself, especially on an artificial climbing wall. To climb with a rope, you need at least two people – a climber and a belayer (a person that safeguards the climber).

rafał_2

Usually, people go climbing in a group so that the time at the rockface is much more fun. Personally, I usually go with 2-3 people. As for the artificial climbing wall, I like to climb by myself from time to time.

How does your passion look on a daily basis?

I try to climb 3-4 times a week. Once a week I go for climbing training. At the moment, I am spending a lot of time in the Czech Republic as there are quite a lot of good rocks there. We go there with my girlfriend when we have some free time and the weather is good. We also go for longer climbing trips – so far I’ve done that twice in Spain.

How do you stay in shape?

By training! Before that, I was regularly hitting the gym. Recently, I have been trying to move towards a specific climbing training plan. I climb on an artificial climbing wall a lot. I’m also doing yoga, mainly to stretch the muscles and regenerate quicker.

Is climbing something that you have to do regularly or you can take some longer breaks from it?

I don’t have so much experience, but I think climbing requires quite a complex set of skills and it takes a lot of practice to do it properly. But if you treat it as a fun recreational activity, it doesn’t require huge engagement. I have friends that go to a climbing wall recreationally and they also have a lot of fun!

How about equipment? What do you need to start your climbing journey?

It depends on the type of climbing. As a bare minimum, you need climbing shoes and a bag for chalk. For sports climbing, you need a harness, your personal kit and someone else at the ground with the rest of the team’s equipment. If you want the full equipment, you also need rope and quickdraws. Dynamic rope is the most significant cost of them all.

And to sum it all up – do you have any tips for someone who wants to start climbing?

I think it’s best to go for a free taster course for beginners at a climbing wall to check if it’s something that works for you. If you want to start climbing on rocks, it’s good to sign up to a climbing course. In this way, you can make sure that you do everything correctly with someone experienced as your coach.

Do you want to climb the career ladder with us?
Join Setapp and accomplish your career goals!

25 March 2019Comments are off for this post.

How can AR help your e-commerce website to stand out from the crowd?

Global e-commerce sales are about to hit almost $5.0 trillion by 2021. The whole market shows a tremendous growth, as just 5 years ago it was estimated at just $1.3 trillion. That gives us a huge growth of 265%.

What contributed greatly to the growth of e-commerce sales is the enormous growth of mobile e-commerce. In 2015, not even half of the e-commerce was happening through mobile devices. In just three years, this number has risen to 73% and it’s not stopping yet.

But this amazing growth comes with downsides too. As of the second quarter of 2018, only 2.86% of e-commerce website visits finished with purchases. Converting visitors into customers is getting harder and harder because of the intense competition on the e-commerce market.

Because of such fierce competition, websites are mostly competing against each other by lowering the prices of their products. Comparison shopping websites make it incredibly easy to compare hundreds of offers in the blink of an eye. While it’s a great feature for customers, it forces the e-commerce companies to focus completely on lowering their prices, leaving companies with a different approach behind.

What are the pain points of the e-commerce industry?

As I already mentioned, the price war in e-commerce is one of the industry’s biggest trends. But what about the companies that focus on quality than those offering the lowest possible price? If they decide to not compete by having the lowest price, then what can they do to differentiate themselves from the competition?

  • One of the strongest trends in e-commerce is a significant growth of purchases done through mobile channels. A mobile e-shop can be much more than just a scaled-down version of the desktop website. Emerging technologies can make the impossible of yesterday, happen now.
  • This leads us to another pain point of the e-commerce market. People want to see their product in a real-life environment. Several studies show that the most hated thing about online shopping is the prospect of return process. 80% of customers are deterred by the inconvenience of online shopping returns.

That’s where in-store retail still has the upper hand. The customer can see a product from all sides, measure it and imagine how it would look like in their home. E-commerce can’t provide this level of engagement and reality of the purchasing process. But can it at least tighten the gap and provide a realistic substitute for physical contact with a product?

The answer is: yes! Thanks to the amazing Augmented Reality experience.

How can emerging technologies like Augmented Reality help?

As mentioned before, e-commerce can’t compete with in-store retail on certain fronts. But the growth of mobile e-commerce and amazing advances in emerging technologies give us brand new opportunities. Things that were not possible from your PC desktop, are now easily available because of the mobile devices we all have.

One of these amazing new technologies is Augmented Reality. If you’re not really sure what Augmented Reality is – check our article on the basics of AR and VR. While you might associate AR with extremely popular entertainment/gaming apps like Snapchat and PokemonGO, it has a lot to offer when it comes to business opportunities. That’s how we came up with an idea to help e-commerce companies stand out from the crowd!

Our idea to Augment the e-commerce

Knowing the pain points of the e-commerce industry, we wanted to use Augmented Reality to help companies overcome their most common challenges. And how else could we do that than by making a working prototype of an app that would help companies to truly stand out and bring a lot of value to their customers? 

Check the video below to see how our AR refrigerator prototype works! In the latter part of this article I will explain what was the process of making the prototype in just 5 days.

Our idea evolved around white goods because we know how tough this market has become. But keep in mind that the same approach can be used to help other companies that sell online too!

We wanted to deliver a prototype of the app that would allow a white goods company to stand out from the crowd and beat the competition. Not by getting into the price war but by giving its customers a lot of value and making the buying process a quality experience.

Our main goal was to reduce the clients’ doubts, fears and hesitations of buying white goods online. To achieve this goal, we knew we would have to add something to the buying process that will make the potential customer much more confident with their choice.

Roles

First of all, it’s important to show how we worked in terms of the roles in our development process of the prototype. Our Business Development expert played the part of a client that needs a working prototype of an app that improves the sales process of white goods. He was a source of information of the needs and expectations of his customers. He fed our teams with all the necessary data to start the project.

When it comes to building a working prototype of an app, the design team’s efforts are crucial to the success of the whole project. Their work decides if the app succeeds or fails. We all know that excellent UX can truly boost a project’s results.

Creating user journey is part of a Discovery Stage

 

What great design can also do is make software developers’ work much easier. With clear UX sketches, storyboards and maps, developers know exactly what they need to deliver. That was definitely the case for our EcoBlue project.

Last but definitely not least, every project needs a Product Owner. This is someone who coordinates the efforts of all the teams and is the link between the app developers and the client.

How the Design Process looked like?

As I have already mentioned, Design is absolutely crucial when it comes to building a great working prototype. A prototype is not about great quality code – it’s all about letting the client know how the app might look, what it can do and what kind of crucial pain points it can solve.

The design process of the EcoBlue project was divided into three stages. The first was the Discovery Stage, then we moved to a Rapid Prototyping stage and we finished the process by creating a high-fidelity prototype. Let me walk you through these stages:

The discovery stage starts the Design process. This is when our design team learns about the idea in details from the stakeholder. The first result of this stage is a UX one pager – the document that explains the problems that need to be solved by the app and how we want to approach them.

Good design can make software developer's work much easier

 

Apart from this, the design team produces low-fidelity screen mockups, which can give you a first glimpse of what the app will look like. The design Team also creates user journeys, which are a graphic representation of how the users might behave while using the app. The last thing that’s created during the Discovery stage is a Storyboard. A storyboard is a description of the key aspects of the solution and the context in which it will function.

The second stage - Rapid Prototyping - is all about prototyping the elements discussed, described and designed in the first phase. It lasts 2 consecutive days. That’s also when the software developers create code, which is based on the results of the Discovery Stage.

The third phase is the final touch - delivering a high-fidelity working prototype, supporting its implementation and controlling the quality of UX & UI.

User journey is a crucial part of creating a great UX/UI

This kind of comprehensive design process makes it much easier for the developers to build an actual working prototype of the app. For many people design means only the visual part of the project and its graphical elements. But design is much more than this. It’s all about discovering the needs of the app’s customers, anticipating their behavior and trying to solve their problems.

If you’re interested in our design process and how we bring a lot of value to our clients through Design Sprints – check our article on how to save money & reduce risks with Design Sprints.

EcoBlue App

So what exactly did we build to solve the problems of the e-commerce industry? Paper sketches? Blueprints? No! We produced a functioning high-fidelity prototype of an app called EcoBlue.

EcoBlue is the app that allows the potential customers of a white goods company to browse through the catalogue of available products and literally put a chosen item wherever they want through the amazing Augmented Reality experience.

How does it work? It’s very simple! First you measure the space where you would like to put the item (the app gives you the precision of 0.5 cm!), then you can choose from the appliances that can fit in the measured space and the last thing you need to do is to click the AR button.

Thanks to the amazing AR technology, an extremely realistic model of the chosen appliance will appear in front of you. Now you can play with it, see it from different angles, check how it looks inside and change its available color schemes. If you’re happy with the way the appliance looks in your kitchen – just add the item to the cart and finish your order. It’s that simple!

With traditional desktop e-commerce this kind of engagement with a potential purchase would never have been possible. That’s why it is so important to take advantage of the opportunities presented by mobile devices and emerging technologies.

Results

After identifying some of the pain points of e-commerce, we came up with a working prototype of the app that can potentially increase the sales of white goods and help a company attract a lot of attention on an already highly competitive market. We have proved that implementing emerging technologies to sales and marketing efforts, can be a great way to beat your competition.

We have also demonstrated that in only 5 days we are able to deliver a high-fidelity working prototype. The kind of prototype that gives you a real feel of how the app would look, work and impact the sales process. Creating the high-fidelity prototype, instead of developing the entire app right away, is a much safer process with reduced risks. It can be used for so many objectives - to kickoff the project, valide your ideas, get funding or check the most crucial part of your project!

 

Do you want to build a high-fidelity prototype in just 5 days?

20 March 2019Comments are off for this post.

What are MOOCs and why they are the perfect example of a hype cycle in the world of emerging technologies

Have you ever heard about MOOCs? Do you know what this acronym even stands for? MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses. They are one of the biggest EdTech innovations of the last decade.

They took the world by storm at the beginning of the 2010s, presented as an idea that would revolutionize education. Almost ten years later, our expectations for MOOCs are much more realistic. The process of disappointment and frustration and a perceived lack of success with certain emerging technologies is best described by a thing called a hype cycle.

If you deal with new technologies, it's very important to understand the concept of hype cycles. Gartner, a global research and advisory firm, came up with a graphic presentation of how almost all new technologies go through a similar path of adoption and application. Amara’s law comes directly from the idea of the hype cycle:

We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

The Hype Cycle created by Gartner

 

The same thing has happened to MOOCs. Their modern version was first introduced in 2006 and quickly became the next big thing. In 2012 the mass media was talking about it being ‘The Year of the MOOC’ as the concept was at its peak of expectations. As you can see on the hype cycle graph above, after the peak of inflated expectations, the period of disillusionment quickly follows. Many called MOOCs dead, a failure and a waste of resources. It’s a classic example of the hype cycle. And as with every hype cycle MOOCs are now climbing the slope and proving that they’re absolutely still alive.

 

A little bit of history

Even though I have mentioned that modern version of MOOCs was introduced around 2006, the precursors of distance learning, such as correspondence courses, started in the middle of the 19th century. They were followed by radio courses in the 1920s and TV courses in the second half of the 20th century. As you can see - the idea of distance learning is definitely not new.

The modern version of MOOCs however, was introduced in 2006, even though the name MOOC was coined two years later by Dave Cormier of the University of Prince Edward Island. It quickly became the hottest trend in the EdTech world, getting a lot of attention from media and politicians all over the world.

 

Massive Open Online Course - what does it mean?

As mentioned before, the acronym MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. But you might ask yourself - what does it actually mean? Here is our short explanation of what the letters in MOOC actually mean:

 

M for Massive.

The idea behind MOOCs was to reach a number of students that would be physically impossible to reach with a traditional course. The most popular MOOCs were enrolling hundreds of thousands of participants, while the average attracted dozens of thousands of students. But the massiveness of MOOC is not only in the sheer number of participants. The most important factor is the scalability of the whole project.

With a MOOC, there is technically no limits to the number of participants. The marginal cost of adding another student is so small that it can be ignored. This possibility of educating a limitless number of people attracted a lot of attention from governments and the education world. It can be a way of reaching a huge number of people with relatively no additional costs.

 

O for Open.

This one is almost self-explanatory. The participation in MOOCs is usually open to anyone with an internet access. The initial idea behind MOOCs was to offer the courses for free but now it’s not a standard anymore. Some of MOOC platforms charge for some of their features, e.g. certification.

Openness of MOOCs is also about the use of resources but it varies between different types of MOOCs. cMOOCs (explained below) tend to be open when it comes to giving permission to build courses on its platforms, while more traditional xMOOCs are often more exclusive and reserve a right to decide which institutions can build the courses.

 

O for Online.

In the beginning, MOOCs were designed as fully online products. However, new types of MOOCs are used together with on-site learning activities. Some MOOC platforms also hold in-person testing and certification events, thus breaking the full online factor of MOOCs.

 

C for Courses.

This component distinguishes MOOCs from a lot of different online, open source educational platforms. Learning materials in MOOCs are formed as full courses, not separate, individual lectures. The natural consequence of such a design is that most of the time MOOCs are offering badges and certificates after the completion of the course.

 

cMOOCs & xMOOCs

Over the years, several concepts of MOOC have emerged. The most prominent ones are cMOOCs and xMOOCs. But what exactly are they and what’s the main difference between them?

xMOOCs stands for extended MOOCs. It is a more traditional approach. The structure is pretty similar to the regular university course, with one instructor and plenty of students. Extended MOOCs are sometimes criticized for the lack of cooperation between participants and a rather archaic method of teaching dressed up as something modern.

MOOCs and open-education timeline, http://bit.ly/2Fd6mXq

 

On the other hand, cMOOC stands for connectivist MOOC. They are based on the principles of connectivist pedagogy. What this means in practice is that in cMOOCs all participants are considered learners AND teachers. There’s not a single person who’s considered an instructor. In cMOOCs participants are expected to learn together in a group. This way of learning boosts cooperation between participants.

 

MOOCs in numbers

There are several big companies running MOOC platforms. The biggest one is Coursera, with an estimated revenue for 2018 of 140 million dollars. It provides over 3100 active courses.

Here's the TOP 5 of MOOC providers as of 2019:

1. Coursera – 37 million
2. edX – 18 million
3. XuetangX – 14 million
4. Udacity – 10 million
5. FutureLearn – 8.7 million

As a whole, the market of MOOCs has reached over 100 million students. The map below shows that almost half of Coursera enrollees come from English-speaking countries. This is one of the issues facing the industry - while content in English is reaching record numbers, it's still rather small in smaller national languages. In this way the premise of openness of MOOCs is very limited.

Geographical distribution of Coursera enrollees

 

MOOC platforms are run by (or together with) more than 900 Universities across the globe. These numbers wouldn’t have been achievable without a huge and diverse catalogue of courses. Right now the number of offered courses reaches almost 12 000 and what’s more important - more courses are coming every year. We are at the moment when there are 2000 new courses getting added every year. This shows that the rumors about MOOCs being dead are clearly premature.

As for the course distribution by subject goes - technology and business are clearly the most common types of courses available, with 21% and 18% of all courses offered. But with time, the offering has become much more diverse, with a strong offering from all fields of education.

Most popular fields of education in MOOCs

Recap

Massive Open Online Courses are one of the biggest tools right now on the EdTech market. They are a great representation of what every emerging technology goes through - the hype cycle. It’s extremely important to keep the hype cycle in mind when developing your digital product. The different stages of the hype cycle of the technology you're investing in imposes different strategies for how to deal with your project. You can't deal with a technology at the peak of inflated expectations the same way as with a tool that is already on the plateau of productivity.

Last but not least, MOOCs provide enormous possibilities for education. They show how technology can disrupt and revolutionize learning and teaching processes. And even though MOOCs face their fair share of challenges, they’re still providing great business opportunities.

Are you planning to build your own MOOC platform?
Design Sprints are a great way to kick-off your project!

18 March 2019Comments are off for this post.

How bad UX can kill your educational app. What you can do to avoid it?

UX, UX and UX. If you’re in the business of creating digital products then you probably stumble upon this term at least once a day. Yes, it’s a staple when building high-quality user-centric products (not just digital). We all know that.

  • But what could go wrong if you screw up UX whilst developing an educational product?
  • What can you do to improve the User Experience of your Edtech app?
  • And how important is the User Experience in Edtech?

What could go wrong if you screw up UX?

Let me be upfront with you. It may well kill your app. You see, unlike in Fintech and other industries, in Edtech $$$ isn’t the most critical metric for success. It won’t win you over investors by itself, and for sure it won’t bring any value to your users.

The key to success in Edtech is the ‘pedagogy’ of your product. How engaging it is and whether kids and teachers are still using it one year down the line?

Basically, before you even implement ‘tech’ in education you need to ask yourself one simple question.

Will it bring any additional value to your users?

If your users can solve a problem with pen & paper then is it really necessary to build an app for it? Will it give something additional to the users?

Btw, with Design Sprint you can create an interactive, hi-fidelity prototype of a product tested on real users.

Real cases of failed UX

Saila Juuti, head of UX at Kokoa Standard has vast experience working on UX projects with clients from around the world. Kokoa provides world-renowned certification for Edtech companies around the world. Get yours here

Kokoa Standard

Kokoa Standard's Marika Kukkasniemi testing Ovobots robot for certification

 

Over the years she has come across many examples of lacklustre UX. Let’s look at some of them:

1. The system doesn’t save the teacher’s time - lack of automation

One Edtech trend is open platforms, where the teacher can create assignments for their students - such as open-ended tasks, multiple choice tests and so on. The purpose of these tests is to automate some of the teacher’s work.

A common error in these kinds of systems is the lack of feedback for students. The teacher may be able to set which of the three answer options is correct, and the software can easily create grades based on that, but there are no fields for explaining why one answer is correct and another is not. In the worst case, the system doesn’t even say which of the answers was correct.

A system which only provides points still requires the teacher to go through the questions with all the students - a time which they could use to give more personal support to those students, who actually need it more.

2. The system doesn’t scale to all of its target users

Edtech products often try to cater to a large target group. What works for a 10-year-old doesn’t necessarily work for 14-year-olds. The graphical representation, language used, complexity and so on should be optimized for the most reasonable target group. It’s quite rare that the same system will work for 6-12-year-old kids.

3. Failing is not fun - feedback is key

In systems which provide challenges or problems to solve, failing a challenge should be a point of learning. When a student fails, the system should provide helps to move forward and create positive excitement for trying again. This requires that the challenge level is optimal for the student and the feedback is helpful. In case it’s not, the previously mentioned scaling problem may exist as well.

What can you do to improve the User Experience of your Edtech app?

I asked again Saila from Kokoa and Paulina Tervo from Lyfta about some practical tips on streamlining UX in Edtech.

First up Saila. Below she shares her three tips for good UX in Edtech:

1. Tell your user clearly, which problem they are solving

The best motivation to use an app for learning is if you know what you are gaining from using it. For Edtech creators, this means keeping the learning goals clear. The teachers may want to know, how the content of your solution is linking different curriculum goals, but also the learners will be more motivated if they are provided clear descriptions of what they are about to learn.

2. Design for the classroom, not just for individuals

If your target group is schools, remember that the learning environment probably involves 20 kids all trying your solution at the same time. Make the launching process as quick and easy as possible, keep the navigation path simple and support searches and prompting of the content that the user has recently viewed. Designs relying heavily on sound may also be cumbersome in a classroom.

3. The details matter

Many school solutions fall into the category of “just good enough” UX. What sets the really good solutions apart from the rest is the amount of polish and effort put to finalizing the app. Consistent aesthetics, well written and informatic system messages, smooth transitions and non-intrusive help will make the user feel good about using your solutions. Game developers need to keep the users immersed in the world they have created, so take a look at how this final level of polish is done by them.

Over to Paulina now...

Paulina Tervo is the Co-CEO and Product Director at the award-winning company Lyfta. They help teachers tackle complex topics and measure attitude change in the classroom through stunning premium quality films, VR and AR technology and pedagogy based on Finland's new Phenomenon-based learning curriculum.

lyfta app

Storytelling is key to Lyfta's success.

 

Paulina told me the key to their success is down to three key factors:

  1. Storytelling - Lyfta’s founders have a background in filmmaking and that’s what helps them to connect emotionally with their customers. It also helps them to tell the story of their product better to their customers.
  2. Gamification & Exploration - Their app is playful and filled with real-life experiences at the same time. Children can explore and interact with different places around the world, interact with different objects, take a peek into people’s home, etc. The real-life content is presented in a playful and explorative way, which makes them quite unique in the Edtech world.
  3. Co-creation with teachers - Another important reason why Lyfta has nailed UX is by involving teachers in the product development process. This helps them understand what needs the teachers have, what technology they are currently using and whether they have any experience in using digital products. On top of that, every teacher is given onboarding on how to use their product.

And now to the final question.

How important is User Experience when creating Educational products?

You should already know that by now. UX plays a critical role when creating educational products. Learner's goal's and how easy the technology is for the teachers to implement are two critical factors for an Edtech product to succeed. Get those two right from the beginning and you'll have a product which is scalable and loveable. On the other hand, if you're off the track from the beginning, chances are your product will struggle with user engagement and retention in the long run.

Don't let UX screw up your app
Use Design Sprint to create a hi-fidelity prototype in 1 week - tested on real users!

6 March 2019Comments are off for this post.

Turn Your Feedback Loop Into A High Performing Machine

One of the most common issues that new digital projects face are insufficient or even nonexistent feedback channels. And we totally understand why it’s such an important issue. If your feedback loop (a structure where feedback is properly used to initiate a change of your product) is weak, it’ll be extremely hard to adjust to the needs of your customers. Investing in various feedback channels pays off - there are several crucial benefits of having an efficient feedback loop:

  • Quick bug spotting. No testing can highlight as many issues with your app as your users can, while casually using your product. Don’t get discouraged by this negative feedback - every digital product has some bugs. The point is to use the feedback you’re getting to make your product better.
  • Upgraded User Experience. Some of the feedback channels will give you enough information to assess the UX value of your product. A lot of great ideas were ruined by poor UX in the past - don’t let your app  be another one.
  • Improved product image. We all know how important a product’s rating is. A good feedback channel can build loyalty from your customers, which can lead to an increased rating of your app. And  you know what an increased rating usually leads to? More customers. That’s all we want, right?
  • Increased Retention Rate. The average 1-month Retention Rate of mobile apps ranges from 27% to 43%, but for higher performing apps, that range is 32% to 66%. An efficient feedback loop is considered one of the most important factors to increase the retention rate.
  • Get new customers. Several studies show that customers who receive a response to their feedback are much more likely to recommend the app to other people. We all know the power of whisper marketing. It’s time to use it to your advantage.

 

Feedback channels

Now that you now what are the most important benefits of a proper feedback loop, we can move on to some of the best feedback channels. Keep in mind they all have different purposes and not all of them fit every kind of project. They’re all worth considering though!

On-site activity

The best feedback you can get is when your customers don’t even know they’re giving you feedback. Tracking your users’ behavior can show you their real struggles.

The most common tool to monitor on-site activity is Google Analytics. It was launched over 13 years ago and it’s now the most widely used web analytics service . It gives you a lot of data about who your users are and how they behave on your website. With such  information, you can easily adjust your page to get better results.

 

google analytics

Google Analytics is a great example of an in-app feedback tool, source: analytics.google.com

 

Another great on-site activity monitoring tool is HotJar. It has a lot of great features. One of them is HeatMaps. Heatmaps let you check where exactly your customers are clicking on your pages. It’s  crucial knowledge that can remarkably improve your UX experience. Maybe they’re clicking on the thing that they’re not supposed to click on? Maybe the thing that’s your highest priority is completely overlooked by most of your users.

 

hotjar

Hotjar allows you to see where people are clicking on your website, source: hotjar.com


E-mail and customer contact forms

Direct contact with your customers is more of a traditional way of getting feedback. It doesn’t mean it’s not useful, but you need to be prepared for a lower response rate. You also need to remember that the time for long surveys with dozens of questions is over. Keep the whole thing short and sweet.

Even though the response rate might be low,  the advantage of direct contact is that the answers you get are highly detailed. And this form of gathering feedback gives you a lot of power. It’s up to you to ask the things that are most crucial to you.

Looking for a good survey tool? Check Typeform. It’s incredibly user-friendly - for both survey-makers and respondents!

Social Media

Your project’s social media accounts are great sources of feedback. Many people use Social Media almost constantly - it’s just much easier and natural for them to leave a comment or review your product on Facebook than to fill in a long external form.

Never lose the chance to get in touch with your customers on social media. Don’t leave their comments unanswered. Check what they’re saying about your product, in what context they are  tagging you. Social Media platforms like Facebook give your customers a chance to rate your product directly. Don’t forget about this valuable data.

In-App Chat

In-App chat is a fairly new tool to collect feedback from your users. Because it’s live, it usually gives a very high response rate. You have to be quite careful with a tool like this though - while it’s a great feedback channel, it can also be annoying to your users and undermine their experience with your product.

That’s why, when using In-App Chats, it’s so incredibly important to focus on the UX of your product. Even though you might think the little pop-up with a chat wouldn’t make any difference - it can actually be a make or break for the experience of your customers.

Customer Advisory Board

Customer Advisory Board (CAB) is a type of focus group, consisting of your current customers. This carefully selected group convenes regularly to discuss the strategic direction of your project, business trends and issues they (or you) see as priorities.

A crucial step to hold fruitful CAB meetings is to have a clear vision of what you want to get from these meetings. It cannot become a discussion group, with no coherent workframe. You need a list of issues, challenges and trends laid out before starting the CAB.

One of the best tips to hold a high quality Customer Advisory Board meeting is actually simple. Be honest about your projects struggles, bottlenecks and challenges! This approach will encourage board members to also feel free to express their opinions. And that’s exactly what you need from them.

Churn Surveys

Seeing your customers stop using your product obviously isn’t nice but you should at least try to get something useful from such a situation. A churn survey is an awesome tool to check why a customer has left you, and what you might possibly do to prevent further churn. And if you’re not familiar with churn rates - it’s the percentage of customers who have stopped using your service/product within a certain period of time.

 

churn survey

Churn surveys are a great way to collect data, source: survicate.com

 

As with almost any other feedback channel - be specific! People who are getting rid of the product are definitely not going to spend a lot of time on answering your questions. The most common type of churn survey is a simple “why are you leaving us?” question with a few options ready and a space for people who want to elaborate on their decision. This kind of survey gives you enough data to work with, while being short enough to get a good response rate.

Recap

As you can see, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to creating a successful feedback loop. The best option is to combine as many tools as possible - this way you can ensure that you’re getting feedback from many different types of users. Whether you’re looking for a very high response rate, detailed and personalized feedback or a trusted group of customers that can evaluate your moves over a longer period of time - there’s always a tool that can help you achieve that!

Interested how we help companies overcome their challenges?
Check our article about Setapp's Design Sprints!

26 February 2019Comments are off for this post.

How to save money & reduce risks with Design Sprint

Before we begin we need to clarify the naming issue. You can find many different names of the same thing circulating all over the internet - Design Sprint, Product Discovery Workshops, Service Design Workshops, Product Design Sprint, Innovative Workshops, Google Sprint etc.

We decided to stick to the original name - Design Sprint. If you’re more familiar with a different name - don’t worry, we’re talking about the same thing!

In 2010 Jake Knapp, a Design Partner at Google Ventures, created a time-constrained process that uses design thinking with the aim of reducing the risk when bringing a new product, service or a feature to the market. In those 9 quick years, Design Sprints have taken the world by storm.

At Setapp, we are always trying to use the latest innovations - be it the new technologies or up-to-date processes. We’re constantly looking for ways to be better at what we do. Conducting high-quality Design Sprints is no different. But it’s not a ‘copy & paste’ process for us - while we’re familiar with the original ideas of Jake Knapp, we have taken them and made them our own.

Our Design Sprints are based on Design Sprint 2.0 - a new and improved version of the original idea. Design Sprint 2.0 idea was developed by AJ&Smart to wrap the whole process up in 4 intensive days of creativity and cooperation.

What is a Design Sprint?

So what exactly is a Design Sprint? It’s essentially a 4-day intensive process to develop a working prototype, get feedback from users, build a plan for next steps and understand the full potential of a project.

The whole process is split into two parts. During the first half, we work with a client at our HQ. After that, our designers get back to their rooms to deliver a working prototype, tested on real users. Our clients can then relax and wait for the results of our work.

 

Design Sprint Peter

 
Who takes part in the Design Sprint?

You might ask yourself - who exactly takes part in a Design Sprint? From our side you can usually expect a UX Designer, Software Developer and Scrum Master. Keep in mind though that this composition is flexible. We adjust it to the specific needs of every single client.

From the client’s side, we expect at least three people. It’s up to the client to choose the people best fitted for their project. We recommend picking people most engaged in it, as they will be the source of information for our experts. Usually, CCOs (Chief customer officer), CTOs, Product Owners or Sales Managers are good picks.

It’s also very important to keep in mind that there’s no Setapp Team and Clients’ Team during the Design Sprint. We are one team and we work together towards the common goal. To help us all achieve that, there’s also one additional (yet extremely important) person in the team from our side - the facilitator. He guides everyone through the process, keeps everything in line and makes the whole thing smooth, effective and enjoyable.

 

Design Sprint Group

 
Who should be interested in Design Sprints?

You might be asking yourself - is a Design Sprint for me? Can it resolve my concerns and problems? Does it fit the needs of my project?

Design Sprints are not created to solve all kinds of problems. If your issues are relatively basic, there are other ways to validate them - Design Sprints might be excessive. The same goes with the risks involved with the project. If they’re low and your project is fairly safe to deliver - don’t bother with a Design Sprint.

In general - if you’re very confident that your proposed solutions will be successful and everything is set, then you can spend your time on something different than a Design Sprint. But we know that a lot of your problems are not low risk, simple issues and it’s increasingly harder to be confident in your solutions with no working, tested prototypes.

There are tons of reasons to run a Design Sprint on your project. It’s impossible to include them all here, but we can highlight the ones that are most common:

  • You need a prototype of a project to get funding.
    We are aware that getting funding is a major issue for a lot of startups. Design Sprints are a perfect tool to achieve that - there are not a lot of things that help to sell your project better than a working, tested prototype.
  • You don't want to waste months to start a project.
    As Shirley Temple once said: "Time is money. Wasted time means wasted money means trouble". Not a lot of entrepreneurs can wait for months to see the fruits of their labor. Design Sprints allow us to deliver results after just one week of hard work.
  • You get stuck with some kind of barrier and don't know what to do next.
    We’ve seen it many times when great projects were stopped by one issue because the team didn’t know how to overcome it. What’s even worse - we’ve seen teams ignoring the most burning issues because it was the easiest thing to do. Design Sprints can help you overcome even the hardest and most challenging issues you face.
  • You want to reduce risks by creating a working prototype.
    There are so many risks facing every project - financial, technical, external etc. Having a tested working prototype significantly lowers all kinds of risks and boosts your project efficiency.
  • You have a big project but want to check part of it before going full steam ahead.
    Huge projects are rarely delivered all at once. It’s way too risky, it makes no sense financially and it’s really complicated. That’s why it’s important to test and deliver the most important parts of the project separately. That’s when a Design Sprint comes in handy. It’s much easier to deliver the rest of your idea, when you know that the core of it is tested.
  • Your team seems to be out of creative solutions.
    We know that a traditional, lengthy development process is not the perfect environment for creativity. That’s why Design Sprints are so great - because of their condensed program, people involved in them don’t get tired and bored with a process. It’s rare to see so many great ideas in such a short span of time. That’s what we call a culture of innovation.

 

Design Sprint Wall

 
What is the outcome of a Design Sprint?

The outcome of our Design Sprint is an interactive prototype, verified by real users and with a coherent recommendation of what should be your next steps. A Design Sprint's outcome is definitely not some kind of paper prototype or blueprint. You get an interactive prototype that feels and looks like a real product.

You also get a clear vision of what your next steps can look like. It all depends on your project, but if you’re ready for development, you can easily move on from a Design Sprint into an Agile Sprint. That’s when we start coding, engineering and designing to build a final product (or MVP).

What is the most important outcome of the Design Sprint is a validation of your idea. Validation, combined with a tested, working prototype, can give you the confidence that your project is set for success.

 

Design Sprint Desk

 
Recap

A Design Sprint is a great way to kick off a project. It can truly change the client’s perspective, it boosts creativity in a way that normal development can’t and it significantly reduces risks. Obviously, it’s not a solution for everyone. But if your problems are complex, broad, difficult and they’re critical to the success of your project - we can’t recommend Design Sprints enough!

Also check our next article where we discuss in details the whole process of Design Sprints! You will learn how every single day of Design Sprint unfolds and what are the values of each stage.

Crystallise your product vision
With Design Sprint get an interactive prototype in one week

21 February 2019Comments are off for this post.

How Setapp Academy creates space for young developers’ growth

If we really care about the future we need to focus on the present.  That’s why at Setapp we’ve decided to establish the Internship Program to support young talents interested in the IT area during their professional beginnings.  It’s inspiring to be surrounded by bold people constantly curious about everything around them. We believe that both sides can gain by exchanging experiences, ideas and energy.

Setapp has always been attracting extraordinary minds, continuously hungry for self-development.  Therefore, we are looking for people determined and passionate about what they do. Meet our first Intern - Asenata. Asenata is a student at Stanisław Staszic High School in Nowy Tomyśl. She became our intern through Poznan's University of Technology (Politechnika Poznanska) program aiming young talents. Asenata shared her thoughts with us about her internship at Setapp.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Asenata, I am 18 years old and I have recently started my adventure with Setapp. I have been passionate about computer programming since always. When I came across web development I decided to make my best efforts to become the most efficient web developer I can be. My biggest motivator is being able to make my own contribution to changing the world through projects that matter.

Why Setapp?

When you are at the beginning of your journey you do not really know what to expect 'in real life' from development environment. You are quite unsure about how to bring your dreams into specific actions, so what you are looking for is a friendly community of open-minded, experienced people, passionate about what they do, able to show you the way to achieve your goals. That is what I found at Setapp. Not only I can receive an in-depth technical training, including best programming practices, but what is more I am surrounded by people willing to help me to find my own path through web development, making it more significant.

What did you learn?

During only first two weeks of Internship I have learnt many lessons in relation to working as a web developer. From used technologies to dealing with clients. My mentor pointed me specific technical issues, needed to create useful product from scratch. Working on my own project I could implement most of them. I could take a closer look at teamwork, understanding the main assumptions about scrum. While spending time with HR's crew I have been taught what qualities a perfect employee should have, how to deal with job interviews and how software industry works in general. However the most important lesson for me is about the positive attitude and constant growth mindshift regardless small or bigger obstacles.

Asenata

What makes a good mentor?

Obviously, a good mentor should be an embodiment of patience and be approachable to new ones. My mentor at Setapp, Maciej, has both.  He has spent time with me getting to know my possibilities, to assign me well thought out tasks which let me grow my coding skills. I have always felt free to ask him for help or further instructions. Thanks to his skills and experience as a developer, which is another vital quality a good mentor should have, I could gain a good understanding of used  technologies, getting to know what is 'under the hood'.

What was the most interesting part of your Internship?

The most interesting part of my Internship was participating at team meetings and following plenty of actions, made to create a perfect product. Seeing how everyone's effort turns into specific software features is really motivating.

Did the Internship meet your expectations?

Internship at Setapp exceeded my expectations so far and it does not refer only to coding training. I feel fully supported by experienced people, who care about my future career and share with me their experience.

Do you think the Internship was beneficial to your future career?

Dealing with actual web development issues and being around highly skilled developers gave me many opportunities to improve, preparing myself to entering the job market. Gaining such experiences so early will definitely have a positive influence on my future career.

If you were to name 5 reasons why this Internship will benefit you, these would be…

This Internship is a perfect way to learn about what I am passionate about and put it into practice, achieving my goals. Pointing out what I think is most beneficial for me at Setapp I would say:

  • In-depth programming training
  • Team experiences
  • Company of professionals
  • Support when it comes to planning my career path
  • Friendly environment of people passionate about solving problems through technology

Note: Asenata's answers are original and have not been changed in any aspect

 

Stay tuned for our next articles on Setapp Academy!

19 February 2019Comments are off for this post.

Unity vs Unreal: which one is better to build your non-game app?

Reading this title might be a little bit confusing to you. After all, aren’t both Unity and Unreal game engines? Well yes, they are - you are absolutely correct. They are both powerful game engines, but they are also successfully used to build non-game commercial apps. Present-day non-game apps are adding more & more features previously seen only in gaming products. That’s why these game engines are also a great choice to build a non-game app.

The question is - which one is better? Which one should I use to deliver my project? What are the main differences between them? Let me take you through the basics to hopefully clarify your choices.

What kind of project am I creating?

This is the first and decisive question you need to ask yourself. There’s not one simple answer to the question of which engine is better. They both have their advantages and weak sides. It all comes down to the scope of your project. Is it heavily based on state-of-the-art graphics? Are you focusing on a certain type of device? Is pricing your highest priority or maybe it is the size of the engine community? If you have all of these questions solved and you truly know what your project is about, you can check the rest of the article to find out which engine fits your needs better.

Community of Unity & Unreal Users

Community is an important factor that needs to be taken into consideration while choosing the right engine. An alive and energetic community is a huge help when your developers face obstacles (and they always do!). An active community means they’re just a few clicks from getting the support they need. A sizeable and dynamic community also has another benefit - it puts  pressure on constant improvements of the engine. Just the pure size of the community can have an impact on how quickly bugs are dealt with. The same goes with new features - the more people are interested in them, the quicker they get done.

So which one - Unity or Unreal - has the upper hand when it comes to the community? This one clearly goes to Unity. It has around 110k subreddit subscribers, compared to just around 45k on Unreal’s side. The community of Unity users is much larger, which makes it a lot easier to find answers to your questions. The relatively smaller size of the Unreal community might leave you in the woods with your problems. If you feel extremely confident in your abilities - that’s great, you can probably work it out by yourself. But there’s a significant convenience of having a big group of people willing to help you with your project, which Unity offers.

Asset Store

Both engines obviously have asset stores. Thanks to them, you can choose from thousands of convenient, ready-to-use characters, props, sounds and many other elements. It’s hard to imagine creating an app with no asset store.

unity asset store

Unity Asset Store, assetstore.unity.com

 

When it comes to asset stores, Unity has the  edge on this one too. Its asset store is significantly larger than Unreal’s . You can get everything you need from there. That makes the whole developing process much easier.

Power of Graphics

As we’ve mentioned before - Unity and Unreal are game engines. Today’s games can be indistinguishable from the real world - thanks to the amazing progress in graphic design. These state-of-the-art graphics can also be applied to the non-game apps, though it’s important to notice that most of the time it’s not necessary. You need to figure out if your projects needs to be extremely complex when it comes to the visuals.

Having said that - Unreal is a winner here. If your project requires amazing visual solutions, Unreal should be your choice. It will allow you to create any kind of 2D or 3D visuals you can imagine. It’s capable of creating scenes similar to what you can expect on next-generation game consoles. It’s not to say that Unity can’t get you great visuals - it definitely can. Especially with the latest versions of Unity, you can expect a tool that delivers on that field. But if incredible, game-changing graphics are you highest priority - go for Unreal, it’s unrivaled.

Platforms

This one is quite simple: the more supported platforms, the better. Let's take a look:

Unreal Engine: Linux, Mac OS X, Windows PC, iOS, Android, SteamOS, HTML5, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PS4.

Unity 3D:  Linux, Mac OS X, Windows PC, iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, Tizen, Android TV and Samsung SMART TV, Xbox One & 360, WebGL, SteamOS, PS4, Playstation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Wii U.

Shapes 3D Geometry Drawing

Shapes 3D Geometry Drawing - educational app built in Unity, shapes.learnteachexplore.com

 

As you can see, Unity has an edge here. But it all comes down to the individual needs - if you’re not planning to deliver your project on the devices that Unity supports, then this longer list gets irrelevant.

Programming Languages

To build your non-game app you will obviously need a little bit of coding.  Unreal uses C++ and Unity uses C#. There are people who prefer one over the other, but it all comes down to  personal preference. It’s just important to keep in mind which engine uses which coding language. Choose the one you (or your developers) feel most comfortable with.

Pricing

Last but not least, we need to talk about money. Both engines are partially free. But as you get more serious with your development, you will probably need to start paying. These two engines have slightly different business models:

Unity: if your business makes less than $100,000 yearly, then the engine is free (though in a limited version). If you go for the professional version, the full price is $1,500 or a subscription of $75 per month. There’s also a second option: Unity Plus. If your annual revenue or raised funds is less than $200k you can get a Unity subscription for $25 per month with 1 year prepaid or $35 paid monthly.

Unreal follows a different business model: if your app revenue is under $3000 per quarter, it’s free of charge. If your app makes more than that, Unreal charges 5% of your income above these $3000.

Recap

It’s impossible to say which engine is better. They’re both great in their own ways. Unreal has a clear edge if you’re working on a project that is extremely complex visually. It’s also a better choice if your app needs to work on consoles. On the other hand, Unity has a bigger community and asset store, it’s relatively easier to use and might be a better choice if you’re working on a mobile or virtual reality app. No matter which one you  choose though, either will be able to help you deliver the most amazing non-game app.

 

Shapes Apps
Learn about our projects
Shapes 3D Geometry Learning – the first and only complete geometry app

15 February 2019Comments are off for this post.

Gamification vs Game-based Learning: what’s the difference?

You’ve probably heard these two terms many times before. Gamification and Game-Based Learning have become the most popular buzzwords in the EdTech community over the last few years. They might look extremely similar on the surface, but if you look a little bit closer, you will find out they are actually quite different.

Gamification

The first term, which seems to be more popular, is Gamification. To put it simply, it’s the process of applying game-design elements and game principles into non-game contexts. There are a lot of different ways to do this, but the most common example is a reward system after accomplishing a desired goal. Even though getting stars or badges for doing the right thing might sound childish, it appeals to the most basic human instincts.

One of the best examples of gamification is the language-learning platform - Duolingo. Over 300 million registered users across the world spend hours and hours improving their language skills thanks to this app. Why do they do that? Because it feels like a challenge that is actually doable. You get small chunks of materials to complete, you achieve badges, and your progress level bar rises. It also rewards consistency - to keep your ‘streak’ you need to do your exercises every day which is crucial to foreign language learning. Duolingo also has a lot of other pros like accessibility, but it’s the gamification factor that makes it so successful.

duolingo

Duolingo - perfect example of gamification

 

The main advantage of Gamification over Game-Based Learning is the fact that it can be implemented over the existing training or teaching methods. That makes it a much faster and cheaper option. Take a look at Duolingo again - the learning material and methods are actually not that innovative. What makes it special is the gamification layer added on the already existing materials. It doesn’t cost as much and it’s relatively easy and quick to implement.

What are the strong and weak sides of Gamification ?

As Gamification doesn’t really change the content and form of learning, it’s not the most engaging technique. It’s best suited with content that is relatively simple and short. If it’s too complex or takes too much time to complete, the engagement factor of gamification fades away.

Because of that, Gamification is most successfully implemented in projects built around short, memory-based material. It easily goes outside of the boundaries of formal education. Gamification is often used in a professional environment for issues like on-boarding, Health & Safety or error elimination.

Unfortunately, Gamification has already gained a bad reputation. this is the immediate consequence of the rapid rise of its popularity. As with every new, popular phenomenon, the initial good idea became ruined by  poor implementation.

Many educators felt pressure to add some kind of “Gamification” element to their teaching methods. In many cases, these forced attempts were limited only to points or badges systems, with no coherent system or rational idea behind it.

That’s the concept of “chocolate covered broccoli”. You might cover broccoli in chocolate but it’s still broccoli. In the same way you can add a layer of gamification to  boring or incoherent material, but at the end of the day - gamification won’t save it. Having said that, it’s incredibly important to not throw out the champagne with the cork. Gamification can be an amazing tool, if applied properly. It should be treated as  part of a bigger idea of creating successful and engaging educational content.

Game-Based Learning

Game-Based Learning (GBL), even though often confused with Gamification, is a completely different concept. You might even call it the complete opposite of Gamification. While Gamification implements some elements of gaming into the learning process, Game-Based Learning completely incorporates learning into a game scenario. It’s not just about getting badges and stars. It’s about a fully functioning game with a clearly defined learning outcome.

If you are looking for a good example of Game-Based Learning - take a look at a game created by Siemens: Plantville. Plantville is the first business online game aimed at company’s employees and clients. Through learning and competition, players can build and manage a factory. The goal is to gain as much experience as possible and get the best score. How do they do that? As a fictional factory plant manager, you are responsible for maintaining the operation of a virtual plant while trying to improve key areas of manufacturing.

siemens plantville

Siemens: Plantville, great example of GBL

 

The game covers a lot of issues like workers safety, managing schedules, reacting to changing external conditions and improving process efficiency. The same material that used to be taught at boring company meetings with very little engagement from employees, became an exciting thing to learn thanks to GBL.

What are GBL’s pros and cons?

Game-based learning gives the unique opportunity to learn even the most complex issues in a fun and safe environment. The safety part is incredibly important. GBL is often used in fields that are prone to very high risks. Take medical education as an example - thanks to the use of technology and game-based learning, future doctors learn even the most complex medical procedures in a completely safe environment.

Game-based learning is also more efficient when it comes to very complex issues that require a lot of engagement from users.

It’s worth noting that game-based learning has a few vulnerabilities. The first is rather obvious - it’s expensive and time consuming. Especially with smaller projects, it just makes no sense to build a seperate game for it. Another drawback of GBL is its niche position in education. While gamification techniques are getting more and more popular in schools, game-based learning is still extremely rare. It’s not only due to high costs.

Another reason is the increasing importance of standardized testing. How many times have you seen an interactive game-like test? Probably never. That’s why teachers are not likely to implement GBL into their curriculum as their highest priority is to prepare their students for  exams. The form of exam will always put pressure on teachers to use similar educational tools that match the exam. Different kinds of exams require different kinds of skills. So far our schools are not up to date with the skills needed in 2019.

Main differences

To sum things up, I prepared a small infographic to highlight the main differences between Gamification and Game-based Learning. There are obviously many other differences between these two tools, but these are the most important ones that will make it clear for you, which one might be better suited to your needs:

Gamification infographics

Recap

Both Gamification and Game-based learning are getting increasingly popular. They can truly improve the quality of education by making it fun and engaging. It’s time to use the tools that technology gives us to transform education. As both Gamification & GBL are getting more popular, many people get confused with the difference between them and which one would fit their project better.

Gamification is a process of adding elements of gaming to the traditional course. It works great for smaller, memory-based material that needs a boost in engagement. It can be implemented quickly over the existing material, with relatively low cost. On the other hand, Game-based learning offers enormous possibilities. It’s extremely engaging and can be used with very complex and multidimensional projects. It has drawbacks though - to develop a good quality game-based learning app, it takes a lot of time and resources. It’s not a great solution for smaller projects.

The choice between Gamification and Game-based learning is not always simple - different projects require different approaches. Hopefully this article has made it clear, and has helped you to understand which tool fits your project better.

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+48 506 798 998
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ISR: 220 Hertzel Street, 7630003 Israel

COMPANY DATA

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VAT ID: PL7781465185
REGON: 301183743
KRS: 0000334616

PRIVACY POLICY

OUR OFFICE

Wojskowa 6, 60-792 Poznań, Poland
+48 506 798 998
office@setapp.pl

COMPANY DATA

Setapp Sp. z o.o.

VAT ID: PL7781465185
REGON: 301183743
KRS: 0000334616

PRIVACY POLICY

 COMPANY DATA

Setapp Sp. z o.o.
VAT ID: PL7781465185
REGON: 301183743
KRS: 0000334616

PRIVACY POLICY

OUR OFFICES

POL: Wojskowa 6, 60-792 Poznań, Poland
+48 506 798 998
office@setapp.pl

ISR: 220 Hertzel Street, 7630003 Israel

COMPANY DATA

Setapp Sp. z o.o.
VAT ID: PL7781465185
REGON: 301183743
KRS: 0000334616

PRIVACY POLICY

OUR OFFICES

PL: Wojskowa 6, 60-792 Poznań, Poland
+48 506 798 998
office@setapp.pl

ISR: 220 Hertzel Street, 7630003 Israel

COMPANY DATA

Setapp Sp. z o.o.

VAT ID: PL7781465185
REGON: 301183743
KRS: 0000334616

PRIVACY POLICY

OUR OFFICE

Wojskowa 6, 60-792 Poznań, Poland
+48 506 798 998
office@setapp.pl

COMPANY DATA

Setapp Sp. z o.o.

VAT ID: PL7781465185
REGON: 301183743
KRS: 0000334616

PRIVACY POLICY

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