Educational content providers, e-learning platforms and the largest private school chains in Brazil have over the last few years leaned in the direction of mobile learning as a way to future proof their businesses, and, considering the current status of mobile device sales in the country, the move was a safe bet.
To put the user base in numbers, there are over 280 million mobile phone accounts in Brazil and, according to IDC, sales of tablets increased 13% in 2014, with 9,5 million devices sold during that year. With all these devices currently in the hands of the country’s audience, Brazilians are turning into heavy consumers of mobile-formatted content, and mobile learning is expected to become a big part of what is consumed on these screens.
Brazil has a growing market for e-learning, with current offerings ranging from classes that teach highly specific skills to full college courses and MBA’s. There is also a huge demand for English courses, since a great number of positions in the Brazilian job market are only open to candidates proficient in the language.
A recent report from market intelligence provider Ambient Insight foresees the revenue for the mobile learning market in the country to represent USD 1,06 billion in 2019, driven mostly by educational apps, platforms and government projects.
Mobile Apps and Learning Platforms
Some of the most downloaded apps in Brazil are related to learning and educational games. This is the case of Duolingo, an app that provides language learning through a gamification process that rewards users for the correct spelling and word usage in phrases.
There are also a large number of apps dedicated to preparation for some of the most important exams in Brazil. The most popular of these exams is the ENEM test, which is applied to students after high school and is, in some instances, used as a parameter for the enrollment in somes of the best public universities in the country.
Aside from publicly available apps, a number of companies have invested in the offering of mobile learning through the launch of platforms designed specifically for these devices. Elementary to high education schools have been one of the main targets for the development of mobile learning solutions. The Brazilian school system allows for both private and public institutions to choose a learning system that best fits their needs, which allows for learning platform providers to expand in both sectors.
One of the major examples of these platforms is the UNO International system, developed by Spanish-Brazilian company Santillana. Designed as a mobile learning platform for tablets, the system has a growing client base of schools in Latin American markets and found success in Brazil following partnership with a large number of educational institutions.
Mobile Learning in Value Added Services Offerings
The segment of Value Added Services is growing in Brazil, as a large number of consumers subscribe to content and services delivered straight to their mobile phones, and this is another landscape where education content providers have found room to expand.
In 2014, Wizard, the largest chain of language schools in Brazil, partnered with carrier TIM for the offering of VAS that includes SMS messages, voice portal and an application where users can find educational games. A similar partnership was established by carrier Oi and online education company Busuu in 2015 for the launch of a mobile app where users get access to courses in 11 languages for a fixed monthly fee.
Another initiative by Abril Educacional, one of the largest publishers of education content in Brazil, was the launch of a mobile platform called Edumobi in 2012, that allows clients of carrier Vivo to purchase courses delivered through a voice portal.
In 2015, Vivo also partnered with e-learning solutions provider Kantoo to launch a language learning platform with classes delivered through SMS messages.
Government-Funded Initiatives and Customized E-learning Platforms
The Brazilian government recently announced that textbooks for public elementary schools will also be purchased in digital format, and this content will most likely be distributed to students through the millions of tablets purchased each year by education institution administrators in the country.
Over the next few years, the government’s strategy to broaden the presence of tablets in public schools should prove beneficial to the companies that provide e-learning platforms for these devices, as some partnerships for this segment have already been established. In 2014, the State Department of Education in São Paulo announced a partnership with Google for the distribution of the Google Apps for Education Suite across the 300,000 public schools in the state.
Brazilian schools will not be the only target for the acquisition of mobile learning solutions in the future. In 2014, the government of Rio de Janeiro chose Swedish-funded company EF Education First as the official provider for language teaching solutions for the thousands of government officers who will work during the 2016 Olympic Games. According to the company, the language teaching operation will be one of the largest in history, and should take place in live classrooms and online classes distributed through their mobile app.