E-education and course planning tool for universities across Japan

Project TypeWeb
ServerUbuntu, Nginx
DatabaseMySql
BackendRuby, Rails
FrontendJavascript, AngularJS
TemplatesHAML
AppIonic, Cordova
Version ControlGit, Gitlab
OtherAmazon AWS S3 storage, AWS Simple Notification Service (SNS)

Brief project overview

A large university cooperative was having trouble using and getting students to engage in the previous systems they had for their E-learning and student interaction services. They were using a previously built course and lesson planning service, Facebook groups for handling their overseas study groupings and communication, and computer email for the delivery of lesson materials. The problem was a lack of student engagement in the provided services for various reasons and the task set to me by them was to create a new system to improve student engagement and improve the lesson efficiency and time use by reducing the amount of time the teacher needs to spend checking if students bothered to check all three information sources and reduce the time spent repeating information, which was one of the number one causes of bad reviews of their courses.

Skills and Input

From the beginning of this project I was given a lead role in talking to and understanding the customer needs, and through an agile development process with the prototyping, regularly meeting with the clients to propose solutions, and iron out the details and problems, we eventually came out with a successful product the clients were more than happy with. The end product was a web-based solution, an all-in-one system that did everything they need from one source.

The final accepted solution put forward by myself and the team was a Web / Cloud based solution with a mobile app to support that amalgamated their three main use-cases into a single system, that is simpler and more engaging for the students in terms of both accessibility and usability. The three main problems solved by the system were:
1. Students not willing to engage in the with the Facebook pages because of not wanting to share personal information / accounts.
2. Course resources and materials not reaching students due to no real base of storage, and relying on student email addresses to send attachments, which some students did not have, and others who did, did not check.
3. No real modern engagement tools to target the students and keep them engaged.

My technical input, and how is solved a problem:

  • Despite it being a slight case of reinventing the wheel, the creation of an SNS platform for the universities course groups and overseas study groups. It solved the personal account / information problem by needing zero information from the students, and all students being automatically assigned an account. It was based on modern day social networking platforms with all the features many are used to using from 'updates', 'comments', 'likes' to picture uploads and direct messaging.
  • An automatic grouping feature using a self thought algorithm loosely based on the perfect match algorithm, that took into account the students top three choices, and the universities desire for gender diversity within groups, to build the best possible match, alleviating what was a time consuming task providing staff and teachers more time on lesson planning.
  • A complete course administration system which teachers can use to plan and design all lessons and courses, as well as keep track of attendance, progress, and levels of understanding by the students through various statistical analysis features and graphs. This allowed teachers to easily keep track of what support groups and individual students required in real time and engage more with them at the time of need, instead of the end of the course. This in turn improved student engagement with teachers and staff, and the trend seen after the release of the system was that this in turn improved the students ability to engage with and communicate with the teachers and staff from themselves, not always needing the teachers to initially contact.
  • Using AWS S3 storage and having the system interact with the API to create and handle a shared folder system where teachers can create their course / lesson directories and upload materials for students to easily access and download. This provided a much easier way to provide and deliver materials, as well as unpublishing / removing, and keeping track of which student accounts have accessed / downloaded materials prior to a lesson, so the teachers can send out reminders to those who haven't yet done so.
  • A single point of access student namespace for which they can access materials, see lesson plans and schedules, directly message and interact with the teachers and staff, as well as directly interact with the social network platform, and take tests online. Keeping things simple to a single access point for everything meant the students learning curve, and account handling became a lot more simple, fun and easy to engage with, which saw the numbers of students engaging and using the system rise from the previous platforms. The end of course reviews also improved, as well as containing more meaningful content on where was good and what needed improvement.
  • An online testing platform for previous lessons, in which the teachers create and publish online tests to be taken within a specified date span. These tests were very light gamification to make them more fun, engaging, and provide real-time feedback to their input and answers. This again improved student participation, as well as providing teachers with real-time feedback on group and individual understanding and learning.
  • A Hybrid mobile application and system API for students to easily message teachers / staff, engage with the SNS platform, and receive Push Notifications on any updates on information involving the course they are on. This provided a great way to easily get contact students, where previously email had failed, many students did not have an email account they use, but all very regularly used a smart phone. This therefore proved to be a massive hit with students and teachers alike, using Push Notifications to notify students on lesson schedules, new materials uploads, test start and end times, posts / comments etc. on the SNS platforms and many more relevant topics.

Profile picture

SNS

Contact Me

  • john.hayes.reed@gmail.com

Recent Activity

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