How Cloud Software and Service Providers Addressed an Education Crisis to Enable Remote Learning at Scale

BrandPost By Lisa Lee
Aug 13, 2020
Cloud Computing

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Credit: iStock

One immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic this past spring was the temporary shutdown of schools all over the world, leaving over 1 billion students without classrooms. Schools were forced to quickly launch and scale up virtual learning curricula. The speed, scale, and breadth of the virtual learning services that followed simply would not have been possible without world-class cloud infrastructure and learning platforms. 

The rapid shift to cloud-based virtual learning across the globe is already having a transformative effect on education, and is likely to provide more flexibility in the way schools deliver education services in the future. The power and agility of public cloud infrastructure enabled many educational technology companies across Europe to scale existing services and quickly launch new solutions to help teachers and students adjust to a new way of learning, ensuring continuity of education.

Scalability proved to be an urgent challenge for existing software and service providers as school districts shifted en masse to remote learning models.

For example, Oblivion Cloud Control, a Netherlands-based specialist in cloud computing, helped Squla, an online learning platform for young students, deal with a sudden 20x increase in traffic when students were sent home and schools transitioned to remote learning. After its IT systems (particularly the database students use to look up answers) nearly collapsed under the stress, Squla worked with Oblivion and others to improve database performance so Squla could continue to deliver education services, and even added virtual gym classes. In the early weeks of the pandemic, 80% of primary schools were using Squla, serving 400,000 users.

In Italy, WeSchool, a classroom collaboration platform that lets students and teachers share materials, saw a 10x increase in web traffic for its online education services when schools were shut down. But with Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its foundation, WeSchool withstood the stress test and delivered its services to thousands more Italian K-12 students. Nearly 30% of Italy’s secondary school teachers used WeSchool to continue their classes online and connect with students virtually. WeSchool helps students to connect, collaborate and learn via video, chat, and lessons curated by teachers and other experts. 

In the UK, Wonde was already well established in the education sector. The school data sync company is used by over 17,000 schools across multiple territories to collect and synchronize student, parent, and teacher data. When COVID hit, the number of third-party software providers requesting access to this data skyrocketed. With its infrastructure built on AWS, Wonde was easily able to support the surge in new school connections – as many as 300 per day during the peak – despite its entire workforce having to work from home.

New apps to fill gaps

Solution providers also leveraged the cloud to quickly build and deploy new apps to provide additional services for home-bound students and teachers. bSmart Labs, which provides digital textbooks and other educational services to schools in Italy, saw a need to add a videoconferencing option to its bSmart Classroom remote learning app. Using the Amazon Chime SDK, bSmart developers built a prototype in less than two days and launched the solution as part of its platform in just eight days. The app has already been made available to approximately 2 million K-12 students across the country, with 300,000 teachers representing over 60% of Italian secondary school educators.

Wonde also developed a new solution to distribute supermarket vouchers to families of students who were no longer able to receive free school meals. Using AWS infrastructure, Wonde developed the app in record time, signing up 4,000 schools in the first week and distributing vouchers to more than 300,000 families in the first month after launch. 

“Schools have always trended several years behind the commercial sector when it comes to technology,” said Wonde CCO Jon Coleman. “This three-month window has moved schools’ adoption plans by about five years so that schools are well prepared going into an uncertain future.”

Providers of learning services for the workplace also stepped up during the crisis. Learnerbly is a workplace learning platform hosted on AWS. In June, in response to the UK government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the UK-based company adapted its platform to give furloughed workers an opportunity to continue to develop even though they were not “at work.” 

Learnerbly’s service, for companies with 20 or more employees on furlough, gives employees access to free and pay-as-you-go content through the platform in topic areas like coding, AI, finance, leadership, UX design, and product management. Learnerbly also offers employees access to content and tools from providers such as Calm and Headspace to support their well-being, which employers are seeing as critical throughout uncertain times. Learnerbly secured additional free and exclusive content for furloughed users so that they could develop without further financial stress. 

These examples demonstrate how Amazon Partner Network (APN) partners have enabled cloud-based delivery of education services to keep educational institutions and businesses productive and secure for learners of all levels and types. Learn more.