Examining the Role of the User in the Phenomenon of Success in the Digital Platform Arena: A Study of the Consumption Values Associated with the Digital Language Learning Platform Duolingo

Henrik Thorsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This paper takes it offset in the current development of digital platforms, as the platform model is the basis of some of the new and more dominant digital companies emerging in various industries. The study closes in on the field of education, as an industry meeting the criteria for a possible influence by digital platforms, and revolves around the existing digital education platforms. The study is concentrated around a case company that possibly possesses power to have a significant impact on the industry, namely the digital language learning platform Duolingo, and it aims at examining the user’s role in the success of this company. From a digital platform perspective, the user is seen as a crucial component in this respect, and the success is seen in a consumption perspective. The Information System Success Model by DeLone and McLean creates the basis for examining the components involved in the company’s success as a digital education platform, and the Theory of Consumption Values (TCV) by Sheth et al. creates the basis for measuring the individual consumer’s perceived value of using Duolingo. Ultimately this study attempts at answering the question of why users are using the Duolingo platform. Taking its offset in a case company, the strategy for this study is the case study method. The methodological approach is mainly deductive and the data collection method is survey, more specifically a web-based questionnaire. The data-collection is done in a short period of time, and gives a cross-sectional view of the data. The users are asked to rate opinions on a scale at a number of statements based on TCV, in order to test a series of hypothesis about the consumption values associated with the use of Duolingo. The results show that the primary consumption values attached to the use of Duolingo, are functional values, emotional values and epistemic values. Social and conditional values are less represented when it comes to Duolingo. Furthermore, the results show that there is no apparent difference between the consumption values associated with the use of Duolingo for active users and passive users of Duolingo, respectively, in this study. Finally, when trying to answer the overarching question about why users are using the platform, the answer is multi faceted. It seems that Duolingo is succeeding in their focus on the functional and emotional values. The respondents in this study has associated the use of Duolingo with values as the platform being free, accessible and mobile, and when using it they have a fun adventure, with progress and a feeling of success. In conclusion Duolingo also seem to succeed in emphasizing that the platform provides a new, easy and effective way in learning a language. Keywords: digital platforms, education, user, success, consumption, consumption values, online learning, language learning.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Information Systems, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages130
SupervisorsJonas Hedman