We started this series on digital education with some of the core capabilities of today’s educators, students, and school administrators really need in an integrated EdTech platform. Then, based on our experience in building digital education solutions, we pointed out some of the EdTechs we think are “crushing it” when it comes to providing these capabilities.
We also noted that even leading EdTechs don’t always have all the pieces in place, seamlessly integrated to provide a cohesive, engaging experience for their users. Some have come from another industry and lack the expertise and capabilities they need to compete. Others face the task of filling the gaps by integrating third-party components with wildly different data models and user experiences. Some need to first modernize their overall platform architecture and software development methodology and technologies, so that they can leverage the flexibility and scalability of the internet and the cloud.
Such was the case with Flourish (not its real name), a digital education program built and offered by one of the world’s largest non-profit EdTech companies in the world. Flourish is a Math and English Language Arts instructional curriculum designed to prepare students from middle school through twelfth grade for college and careers. School districts purchase access to Flourish to its suite of online educational tools and materials to their teachers and students. However, the existing software solution was incapable of changing and growing with Flourish’s needs. That’s when partnering with a custom software solution provider with experience in digital education made all the difference.
In 2012, the EdTech decided to bring Flourish’s print-first experience to the web. This would allow it to both expand its content offering and make that content more accessible. However, it faced issues with system stability due to an overly complex hosting and application architecture. The platform was difficult to use, and its complexity created a slow, tedious, and increasingly fragile deployment pipeline. Manual processes wasted time introduced errors and made testing and quality control difficult. The resulting software solution did not follow best practices nor comply with industry security and accessibility standards.
In the Spring of 2017, the EdTech engaged with JBS, a technology partner that could reduce its technical debt and execute on its vision of having a cohesive, integrated application with the best possible experience for all customers.
How JBS Helped
- JBS implemented a new agile development process for Flourish and updated its software development technologies. This included replacing the Java-based solution architecture with one based on the Python/Django web developer platform. The new process enabled rapid development and deployment while fostering shorter feedback loops.
- JBS also modernized Flourish’s application infrastructure by using a “cloud-native first” mentality. It selected AWS as the cloud provider and architected AWS Lambda and other AWS services into the delivered solution. This allowed Flourish to leverage container-based hosting which reduced complexity as well as benefiting from the scaling, performance, fault-tolerance and cost benefits of the cloud.
- After stabilizing Flourish’s infrastructure, JBS updated the application to meet industry best practices and security standards while allowing for more rapid development, simplified integration, and improved testing and quality.
- Read more about the changes JBS implemented for Flourish here.
By utilizing AWS’s cloud platform and services, Flourish’s new cloud-first application architecture is more stable, scalable, and automated—not to mention providing significant savings in operating expenditures. The agile methodology has shortened the development cycle, and its feedback loops allow for more iterative evaluation and adjustment. Further, with Continuous Integration; Continuous Deployment pipelines in place, the automated maintenance processes allow Flourish engineers to focus more of their time on feature development.
Perhaps the biggest winners are the students and teachers that use Flourish. AWS services and Django allowed JBS to deliver a cohesive and responsive end-user experience user interface for end-users and system administrators. The resulting system not only meets the current needs of Flourish, but it also provides a platform that is easily extensible to meet the future needs of their consumers.
With the right partner, EdTechs can fill the gaps in their digital education platform faster
Today’s learning management systems (LMS)—digital education platforms—are complex software beasts. Whether you’re a commercial or non-profit EdTech provider, providing a flexible, scalable LMS that’s comprehensive, well-integrated, and delivers a seamless user experience is a tall order. Re-architecting your platform to take advantage of new technologies like the cloud and microservices can be daunting. In addition, there are always new (or old) systems your customers need you to connect to—your platform must be open, flexible, and extensible.
From kindergartens, all the way to universities, today’s schools are demanding more than just the “table stakes” when they select an EdTech and its platform. They want a solution that will serve their needs now and for decades to come.
An experienced software provider like JBS Custom Software Solutions can provide the functionality that’s missing in an EdTech’s platform and ensure it seamlessly integrates with a school's existing systems. It can help an EdTech refactor and rearchitect a complex legacy platform to a modern cloud-based architecture. It can also provide engaging user experiences for both educators and students—which means your EdTech platform can stand out from the pack.
JBS Custom Software Solutions has years of experience helping EdTechs provide efficient, full-featured, scalable digital education solutions that meet the needs of even the largest and most demanding school system. Contact us for a free half-day assessment to find out how we can help deliver on your business goals while greatly reducing your time to market.
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