Mobile technology is changing the education industry as touch devices quickly replace calculators. A ‘mobile first’ collaborative platform is the next big trend as ever increasing content, both paid for and free becomes easily available on the internet. The challenge for institutions is to adopt a differentiated pedagogy that integrates custom learning paths for students. Edvelop, a ‘mobile first’ collaborative learning environment by AgreeYa Mobility delivers innovative and flexible learning options to students and educators. It uses Microsoft technologies on the Windows Azure platform to deliver content and collaboration between students and teachers. This allows AgreeYa Mobility to deliver learning opportunities anytime, anywhere, and virtually on any device that amplifies and optimizes the learning.
AgreeYa Mobility, an industry leader in the mobile ecosystem, focuses on developing solutions that deliver value to organizations and end users. The company also provides system integration and engineering support for mobile and other connected devices. AgreeYa Mobility has over 400 employees and an elite clientele that includes Fortune 500 companies. It has operations in the United States of America, Canada, India, China, Korea and Poland.
AgreeYa Mobility looked at the education segment and realized that an education platform with a mobile client and a powerful cloud solution could be a game changer. “Technology allows us to view education from different perspectives. Mobile devices have virtually replaced calculators and collaborative learning. They are the next big trend in education,” explains Krish Kupathil, Chief Executive Officer, AgreeYa Mobility. “We believe that a potential technology-laced pedagogy can be made available to each school and university that adopts Edvelop.”
Students use social tools and video platforms to connect instantaneously with anyone, anywhere, and with any type of information. Calls on Skype and content from Facebook are the most common examples. AgreeYa Mobility decided to deliver this flexibility of choice to students, learners and educators as well.
The company evaluated several internal solutions and IaaS providers. It also tried a Java based collaboration platform and certain open-source platforms. “These didn’t work for us as they were neither scalable nor maintainable,” says Krish. “We were not able to manage scalability at the pace we wanted. Also, there was a higher total cost of ownership linked to these solutions.”
Choosing the right cloud service provider was essential. To accommodate its scalability, availability and performance requirements, AgreeYa Mobility needed a cost-effective and reliable cloud-based solution. It needed a flexible education platform that would allow students to achieve their highest potential. “We not only wanted to move training to the cloud but we wanted to give education a whole new meaning,” says Krish.
AgreeYa Mobility has a strong partnership with Microsoft. It has used a whole bouquet of Microsoft technologies in its solutions. For its education platform, the company chose Windows Azure as it realized that this would better meet its specific needs. “When we considered our requirements, the cost, scalability and reliability of Windows Azure made the choice easy,” says Krish. “Most importantly, Content Delivery Network (CDN) is packaged with Windows Azure. Overall, the combination of technology and the infrastructure strength of Microsoft, along with the capabilities of Windows Azure was the right decision for us.”
In early 2014, the company launched Edvelop, a collaborative platform for students, teachers and universities for classroom and virtual learning. Edvelop aims at providing collaboration and communication, tests and assignments, learning paths, grades and integration with the content store and question bank. The teachers are provided with facilities like test creator, assignment creator and virtual classroom for mobile device-based learning.
Targeted towards the education vertical, Edvelop provides schools and colleges with a stable, robust and scalable cloud-based learning platform. “Today’s modern learning platform should manage formal courses, all forms of digital content, social features, competency-based learning, assessment, and also integrate with talent management,” says Krish. “Edvelop was created keeping all this in mind. It is a content storehouse that provides access and flexible choices to students and teachers.” Today, within the same university, a professor can teach any content available from any content provider. It is as simple as subscribing to it and then using it.
For all communication and collaboration requirements, the IT team chose to deploy Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 and Microsoft Lync Server 2013 along with Microsoft SQL Server 2013 and Windows Server 2012. Krish explains, “We have overcome geographical barriers with our solution. For example, if any university wants to get global external faculty once a week or more often, they can do so without any obstacles. It is easy to set up a video class using Edvelop. Institutions can organize a multi-user classroom similar to a bridge, whereby students can interact with the professor and ask questions in a classroom mode.”
Apart from being a content store, Edvelop integrates communication technologies. Universities can use it to put up announcements, set up calendar requests, schedule classes, etc. These features easily integrate into a student’s homepage itself, making it the only place that the student needs to visit to get all the information.
Windows Azure makes it easy to provision the hardware needed. Virtual Machines are used for deploying Microsoft SharePoint Server, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Lync Server on Windows Azure. Windows Azure sites are used as SaaS (Web Server). The company uses Microsoft SQL Server for all its database storage needs. In the near future, AgreeYa Mobility wants to host Microsoft Lync on Windows Azure, along with SkyDrive and Skype integration.
AgreeYa Mobility will offer Edvelop to private universities, schools and colleges who have deployed some technology in the classroom. “We are trying to explore private universities, schools and colleges who want to enable their tools with a Windows 8 mobile and tablet,” says Krish. “We want them to access any kind of content based on their requirement.” Edvelop also gives AgreeYa Mobility customers a better user experience because of the performance of Windows Azure CDN services.
The scalability of the platform allows AgreeYa Mobility to offer the solution to more and more customers. The company can now leverage Azure services, integrate with other platforms and Azure APIs. Windows Azure Cloud AD authentication can be used for Single Sign-on.
“Mobile devices are bringing a profound change in pedagogy. Edvelop makes mobile devices the study tool, and, teachers post class schedule, tests, assignments, grades, lesson plans and homework from anywhere,” explains Krish.
Accelerates Time-to-Market with Cloud Deployment
AgreeYa Mobility accelerated implementation with a cloud deployment. Ankush Tiwari, Senior Vice President – Engineering, AgreeYa Mobility says, “The whole development infrastructure is well integrated with Team Foundation Server, Visual Studio and Windows Azure, which helps to streamline the development process. It was very easy for the development team to test and deploy the code in the cloud without having to set up servers. Test cycles helped reduce the time-to-market.”
Flexibility to Personalize and Optimize Learning
The way students learn is fundamentally changing. A flexible, blended, virtual classroom model is replacing the traditional way of learning through classrooms. Edvelop gives teachers the flexibility of using digital technologies to engage students with more personalized learning experiences.
“Every student has different needs,” says Krish. “With Edvelop they can use the course content of their choice. The platform does not limit them. Students and teachers decide on the content methodology and structure. More importantly, Edvelop on Windows Azure allows students access to content on their preferred device. So it addresses multiple learning styles and it’s available around the clock.”
Students can collaborate across geographical boundaries and consume innovative education-related content.
Scales to Support Demand
With Windows Azure, AgreeYa Mobility has the flexibility it needs to adapt faster to changing requirements. It is able to scale up theplatform to cater to a large audience. Krish explains, “Rapid and constant change in technology has resulted in ever increasing demands of schools and universities.
“ By delivering Edvelop through Windows Azure, we are able to provide these institutions with a ‘pay as you go’ model, which can be scaled up, both in terms of infrastructure and budget, depending on demand and success. This type of on-demand scalability is a huge benefit.”
Cuts Storage Costs by 70 Percent
Cloud capabilities are important to AgreeYa Mobility because of the enormous amounts of data involved. The company expects lower costs and better service from Windows Azure. “Our archival storage was growing and using Windows Azure for storage helped alleviate those worries,” says Ankush Tiwari, SVP Engineering, AgreeYa Mobility. “We no longer provision additional space and no new RAID servers are required. The procurement and license costs have also reduced. On an average with a compression ratio of 20 percent, the cost has reduced drastically, by around 70 percent.”
With Windows Azure you can quickly build, deploy, and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers. You can build applications using any operating system, language, or tool.
For more information, please visit www.windowsazure.com.
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For more information about AgreeYa Mobility products and services, call +91 9096741110 or visit the website at:www.agreeyamobility.net
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