AWS Public Sector Blog

Social emotional learning: Using cloud technology to support student learning


On Dec 19, 2019, The Champagnat College Year 7 students presented their personal printed books to their families generating tears, cheers and accolades.

Research shows that social emotional learning (SEL) increases student engagement at school, increases academic achievement, and helps students to be more successful in all aspects of life. FamilyBookForm, an AWS EdStart Member, aims to encourage SEL through their online book creation tool that allows K12 students to interview members of their family or community to collect spoken stories, in any language. The tool uses speech-to-text voice recognition technology and is powered by the AWS Cloud.

Writing a paper can be a challenge for some students and the idea of authoring their own book is often unimaginable. Students use FamilyBookForm to facilitate storytelling interviews, which are developed into books based on those personal stories. The advanced deep learning functionalities of automatic speech recognition for converting speech to text and natural language understanding to recognize the intent of the text, enables students to easily create books.

Using speech-to-text, students follow prompts to speak or type stories and upload photos. Once they are finished, the tool automates the collation of the project and rolls it into a digital book with a front cover, contents, and chapters. This simplifies the logistics of pulling together the final project and making it easier for students to focus on what’s important: the story.

While FamilyBookForm encourages emotional connection and engagement between students, parents, grandparents, and community members, teachers see improvement in literacy, range of writing, and the ability to organize topics and use presentation skills, while simultaneously increasing engagement. “We set the unit up as an accessible piece of work next year…I am sure the boys enjoyed this method of literacy intervention and I can see that they now want to write better in the future,” said Melissa Carson, director of teaching and learning and Champagnat College.

When it comes to storing both student and family information, all student book content is private until it is shared with others either online with a subscription or downloaded to a PDF to print or share. FamilyBookForm easily provisions, manages, and deploys private student data securely over SSL and stores all student data on the AWS Cloud using Amazon Simple Storage (Amazon S3) to store content within each region.

As a small bootstrapped startup, “AWS’s affordable and secure cloud services allow us to comply with the privacy and storage requirements for school customers,” said Cary Furze, founder of FamilyBookForm. “Using AWS allows us to easily geo-locate customers and keep their data on servers in their region.”

AWS offers security best practices and capabilities for compliance, allowing FamilyBookForm to scale faster and focus more on the student experience, as well as benefit from stronger security practices than on premises.

FamilyBookForm uses AWS CloudFormation to provision staging and production environments within isolated virtual private clouds (VPCs). They use AWS Lambda and API Gateway to run a serverless architecture backed by Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for their database, and Amazon S3 to store their content within each region. As a part of their speech-to-text pipeline, they use Amazon Elastic Transcoder for audio processing, while using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) for compute and Amazon Route 53 to host their website.

AWS EdStart, the AWS educational technology (EdTech) startup accelerator, is designed to help entrepreneurs build the next generation of online learning, analytics, and campus management solutions in the AWS Cloud. The program is designed to enable EdTech startups to move faster with specially tailored benefits.

Learn more about AWS EdStart, cloud computing for education, and AWS for K12 education.