Edtech leaders from both established companies and startups share the tech stacks that help their product excel in a growing industry.
•about 2 months ago
Tech stack decisions are unique to each edtech solution, and it is up to product managers and developers to understand their specific requirements. Leveraging technology providers to support app development and user growth is key to building a scalable, reliable, and cost-effective tool for school systems, teachers, parents, and students.
Recent edtech industry growth motivated some companies to outsource key features for rapid implementation instead of building them in-house. Stream virtually sat down with several top edtech solutions to learn about the tech providers that make their product shine.
Dynamic In-App Messaging
The centralized learning platform Kiddom, which is a hybrid between a learning management system and a virtual classroom, sought to expand their product’s communication features by buying Stream’s Chat API to meet their users’ needs. This saved Kiddom time, money, and resources to avoid taking focus away from their product’s core competencies.
“We’ve been going at lightspeed to build more communication functionality into Kiddom,” says Head of Product Nick Chen. “We knew we didn’t want to build a chat solution in-house.” Stream’s Chat API integration enabled the company to add chat reliably and at scale in just one month, and allowed teachers to virtually “call” on students to emulate a classroom discussion.
“We don’t need to be experts in video or chat presence … we didn’t need to reinvent the wheel,” says Chen.
Scalable App Architecture
Bill Mastin, founder of the May 2020-launched edtech app Learnie, provider of educator-curated learning videos and coursework, believes scalability is key to his product’s success. Mastin employed Google’s Firebase to build Learnie’s backend and easy-to-add functions such as authentication, file storage, and more. Mastin also values rapid app prototyping. Google's Flutter SDK enabled him to quickly build an attractive app that supported architecture for iOS, Android, and the web. “Scalability was the number one focus on our decision, followed by reliability and the ability to develop rapidly,” says Mastin.
So far, such tech is a good decision for Learnie even with spiked growth: Mastin hasn’t had to uninstall any tech stacks since the company launched.
Scalability was a key factor that led Alison, a global e-learning platform with millions of users, to choose AWS hosting over other like services. "The most important factor for us to consider is the variety of services to achieve high performance, scalability, failover, and security," says Roman Pavlov, Alison's head of development. "The next factor we took into consideration is the internal expertise and quality of support services and documentation."
Alison's choice to use AWS is what allowed the company to support a rapid increase in users following the global pandemic.
Factoring in Price
For the bootstrapped Rubin Education, price is a top consideration when choosing technology providers to add next-level functionality. “When I evaluated learning management systems [to host my content], I went with Moodle because it’s a free, open-source program,” explains founder Danny Rubin, who adds that he slightly customized the platform to suit his unique needs, such as interoperability within other learning management systems. Moodle’s 1,700+ plugins offer customization features ranging from attendance-taking to gamification.
Price is also a driving factor for the startup Village Square, which connects educators with global student groups. An affordable monthly subscription fee and reliable customer service is what led Village Square to use FastComet for their web hosting and cloud storage.
As student privacy is a growing concern among schools, universities, and legislators, some edtech companies including Blackboard, ClassDojo, and Clever have pursued verification that their practices align with education laws such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Achieving verification from third-party certifiers like iKeepSafe is one way edtech companies inspire customer confidence that their practices comply with federal legislation.
Key Takeaways for Growth
Whether it be a reliable backend solution to set your app up for success, affordable cloud storage, or an SDK that can power market-leading functions such as unparalleled data analytics, reliable in-app messaging, or personalized notifications, smart edtech companies are carefully choosing their tech stacks to best suit their unique needs, and prepare for future growth.
To recap, when choosing technology providers, edtech companies most value:
- Scalable APIs that support more users as the company grows.
- Reliable technology that doesn't require excessive hands-on maintenance.
- Price-appropriate options accessible for startups.
- Helpful customer service.
Interested in learning how top edtech companies are evolving to serve the diverse needs of all education stakeholders? Download Stream's free ebook, Edtech Today: 8 Startups on Managing Exponential Growth.