SOCIAL NETWORKING PORTAL FOR STEM EDUCATION STARTUP

  • Custom social network to meet needs of different types of schools and various kinds of curriculum.
  • Modules to create a library of courses, reading material, assignments and assessments.
  • Automation to facilitate automatic task assignment and student grading.
  • TECH STACK:
    Node.js GetStream.io Automation Anywhere
  • EXPERTISE:
    eLearningSocial Network DevelopmentBusiness Process Automation
  • VERTICAL:
    Education
  • ENGAGEMENT MODEL:
    Fixed Cost Fixed Scope

BACKGROUND

The client, a highly respected educationist with extensive experience in Academia spanning 20 years, worked closely with school administration teams to improve teacher confidence and student achievement in U.S schools. She wanted to create a customized and interactive web based platform that would deliver excellent STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning experience for high school students.

The client had a clear vision of the revolutionary education portal that school administrators, teachers and students could use to easily connect and engage with each other - a system that would greatly enhance STEM teaching experience and improve student performance.

Thanks to our successful collaboration many years ago, the client decided to hire Asahi Tech for this project. We did a short discovery session to capture the founder’s vision and translate it into software requirement specifications.

Requirements
  • Multi-user access - Role based access to accommodate its various users accessing the system - super admins, school administrators, teachers and students.
  • Process automation - Automate task upload and assignment, and automatic student grading once task is completed.
  • Learning module customization - Features to facilitate customization of modules to meet the needs of all levels of instruction, different types of schools and various kinds of curriculum.
  • Enhance classroom learning - Features to administer tests online, facilitate assignment completion, and remind students of pending assignments through notifications

SOLUTION

To develop this closed-loop, web-based social learning network, our team went with Node.js based GetStream.io. Automation Anywhere was used for automation of task assignments and student grading. As this had to be a lightweight application and the timeline for a beta product was short, the choice of off-the-shelf open source social network turned out to be a great decision. It enabled us to deliver an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) in under 8 weeks, while keeping total cost of ownership (TCO) to a minimum. After developing the MVP, which helped the client demo a preliminary version of the product to interested schools to gauge interest, our team continued to develop the complete product.

Here are the key features we implemented in the application.

On-premise installation

Once WhyScience enters into an agreement with a school, a team member from WhyScience installs the social network on a server within school premises. It was architected this way based on client's request to meet security and administrative control needs of the schools.

Comprehensive user administration

Once the installation is completed, a WhyScience team member creates the super administrator for that school installation. The super admin can then administer the site, and create the required instructor and student logins.

Trial user access

Additionally, in order to allow new users to get a feel for the application’s features before committing to a license, we added capabilities to the application for the creation of trial users with three-day access.

Course library creation

We developed capabilities in the application to allow instructors to create a library of courses, associated reading material, assignments, and assessments to facilitate learning. The architecture we put in place allows for course modules to be customized and configured at any time by school administrators based on school and subject requirements.

Archiving capability

We developed archiving capability for course modules, assignments and assessments. This helps teachers create course materials for multiple school terms at once, but activate only the relevant course material for the term that they are in. Archived modules can be re-activated when need arises.

Share and Clone capability

We created features to allow instructors to share course material with their peers so that they can then clone them and make modifications to the modules to suit their teaching needs.

With the increasing popularity and widespread adoption of the learning system in schools in Connecticut and New York, the client needed extensive support, periodic maintenance and product updates. We provided this through a separate annual service agreement, which was renewed more than 3 times.

Several features were implemented as part of the annual service agreement.
  • 1.
    Custom features such as intuitive problem solving through virtual guides and tooltips.
  • 2.
    Secure access method to allow authorized users of individual schools to access the application from outside the premises.
  • 3.
    Discussion forums to allow teachers and students to easily interact and collaborate with their fellow teachers and students respectively regarding assignments and course material.
  • 4.
    Upload scripts to import information about teachers, students, and courses from a simple spreadsheet, and configure them for immediate access of a newly setup school.

RESULTS

The software solution we developed helped the client provide an ingenious way for schools to deliver excellent STEM learning to students.

Why Science was awarded the CT Next Entrepreneur Innovation Award and the software is widely regarded as an easy and effective social learning system in the state of Connecticut.

BENEFITS

The educational social network we developed provides the following benefits.

  • It helps the teaching community effectively engage with its students and greatly enhance their learning experience and performance in STEM subjects.
  • It provides the convenience of task assignment automation.
  • It provides continuous metrics-based monitoring of student progress thereby allowing teachers the time to focus on teaching quality, and their own professional development.
  • Reduction in manual tasks lead to less paperwork and minimal errors simplifying the entire school administration process.

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