How Compose is Helping Educational Organizations Innovate

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Hundreds of educational and learning services organizations like schools, universities, e-learning providers and training institutes have been using Compose to build innovative apps and productivity tools to help students and teachers succeed.

We talked with three of our customers who are working in this industry on different yet compelling causes. One of them is on a mission to make pre-schooling accessible to a larger demographic with their enablement platform. Another company is turning the classroom into a gaming adventure while yet another is helping students find deals online.

While each of their start-up stories is fascinating, their approaches to solving technological hurdle with Compose are quite intriguing too. For example, while Wonderschool relied on PostgreSQL and Redis to build their entire platform, Campus Discounts decided to use a total of six databases and IBM Watson AI to create their solution. On the other hand, Classcraft went through several interesting iterations and update cycles with their databases and front-end before settling down on solid ground with Compose.

Let's check out their stories:

Wonderschool | San Francisco, California

Chris and Arrel started Wonderschool (originally know as One Preschool) to solve some tantalizing problems with pre-schooling: the schools are hard to find and even harder to establish.

Wonderschool’s platform makes it easy to start and run a preschool for educators who want to start their own business. The platform comes with three distinct components. With the first module, parents can search a school, book a tour and get enrolled. The second component, a dashboard allows the teachers to manage class activities and expenses. The third component provides setup and mentoring support.

Powering the platform is Phoenix/Elixir on the server side and React.js on the front end. For their data layer, Wonderschool selected Compose PostgreSQL for persistent data and Compose Redis as their message queue. Arrel, the co-founder and the architect behind the platform chose PostgreSQL because he had experience with it before and found it provides faster development and easy scalability. Plus he loves the fast and features rich text search capabilities that PostgreSQL has. He uses Redis because of its low-maintainability and blazingly fast performance.

When asked why Wonderschool chose Compose, Arrel said, “As a software engineer, the most important features are the ones that let me stay focused on the software and forget about the infrastructure. It’s also about reliability. After sticking with Compose for several years, I've learned that when things go wrong, you guys got my back.”

With already over sixty schools in San Francisco and Los Angeles alone, Wonderschool is growing relentlessly on Compose platform and well on its way towards fulfilling its goal of spreading easy pre-schooling on a global scale.

Read the full case study.

Classcraft | Sherbrooke, QC, Canada

Classcraft gamifies a monotonous classroom experience into an immersive and fun adventure. The entire platform is based on a role-playing game strategy. Teachers can assign different activates and reward students with ‘experience points’ for completing a task. Students get more points for working in groups to solve a problem. This encourages communication and teamwork while improving student motivation.

Initially, the app was written in PHP and later converted to Node.js and Meteor.js to handle scaling and real-time needs of the game. MongoDB powered the back-end. The entire monolithic single server app was hosted on Amazon Web Services and maintained by Shawn, the co-founder and original programmer of the game. But as the app started to gain popularity, soon he began to face scaling and administration challenges. Shawn found himself spending more and more time managing the databases and performing sysadmin tasks than focus on what’s important to his business – developing the app. This was one of the main reasons Classcraft decided to move to Compose.

Compose takes away all the pain of database administration by providing Shawn with a fully managed DBaaS platform where scaling, performance, backup, support and everything else associated with a data layer would be taken care of. Now, Shawn has more time to focus on his core business and even expand the game with Compose's help. For example, recently he added Compose hosted Elasticsearch to provide locationtional and fuzzy-logic based search capabilities in the app.

“I am very happy that we moved to Compose,” Shawn said. “Basically, Compose took the hassle of database management off of our hands so we could focus on what’s most important to us - our product. And I didn’t have to do anything. It’s pretty great!”

Since its first release on Compose, Classcraft turned into a popular app among students and teachers. In only a few years it’s now being used by 20,000+ school in North America.

Read the full case study.

Campus Discounts | Nairobi, Kenya

Don Omondi came up with the idea for Campus Discounts to solve a problem he was facing as a student - how to easily find bargains near his campus. He submitted the project to IBM’s SmartCamp program where it became a finalist. Inspired by the recognition, he launched the company in 2015.

Campus Discounts is a social network where students find and recommend discounted products and services posted by vendors near their campuses. It also has a built-in buddy system where students can share bargains and communicate with their friends.

Architected and built by Don himself, Campus Discounts’ platform isn’t a typical one. A total of six databases are powering its data stack – all but one hosted on Compose. He’s using MySQL for ‘primary data' like users and discounts information; Redis for caching and redundancy; MongoDB for storing social interaction data; Elasticsearch for complex search; RabbitMQ for message routing and synchronization and finally JanusGraph for correlating relationships among users and their interactions.

Running on top of the databases is PHP Symfony for the back-end and Ember.js plus Node.js on the front-end. Don is also using IBM Watson’s powerful APIs to add cognitive features like chat bot, voice and pattern recognition, etc. to the app.

So, why Compose? “First and foremost, as CTO of a growing startup, I have a lot on my plate right now. Compose really comes in and takes the weight off my shoulders.”

With hard work and Compose’s help, Campus Discounts has seen rapid growth in a short time with 36,500 campuses worldwide using its platform at the moment.

Read the full case study.


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