AWS Public Sector Blog

Study Edge and ASU use AWS to offer accessible and equitable education video experiences to students

During the pandemic, virtual learning relied heavily on video interactions like real-time video collaboration between students and teachers, streaming of large events such as orientations or large course lectures, and on-demand video content. In research commissioned by AWS in December of 2020 set to be released in an upcoming report, Hanover Research found that over 85 percent of higher education decision makers surveyed have already invested or plan to invest further in video streaming and conferencing solutions. But most leading video solutions are not purpose built for education, do not have features that best replicate an in-person learning experience, and do not provide the data and feedback necessary to support individual students. With Amazon Web Services (AWS), education technology (EdTech) companies and universities like Study Edge and Arizona State University (ASU) are transforming the video learning experience for students and families.

EdTechs use AWS to provide equitable access to remote tutoring   

Since its inception in 2011, the mission of EdTech Study Edge is to make high-quality tutoring more equitable and accessible for every kind of student. One of their educational products, GoBoard, virtually replicates the quality of in-person tutoring, including the ‘whiteboard’ experience of marking up student assignments and tests, and sharing feedback.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Study Edge saw the need for online tutoring dramatically increase—and so did the cost of the third-party video service they used to connect students and tutors through video. Their engineering team quickly realized that the architecture needed to be re-thought, particularly to continue to deliver GoBoard as an inexpensive platform while meeting the increasing demand for remote education. Already using the AWS Cloud, the Study Edge engineering team investigated using Amazon Chime SDK to re-architect GoBoard. In less than six weeks, Study Edge prototyped and launched the Amazon Chime SDK service as the new engine for the GoBoard product. With AWS, Study Edge reduced costs by more than 50 percent. More importantly, they gained the control and flexibility to build new functionality into future enhancements of its products, such as larger group sessions and advanced meeting controls.

“For Study Edge, access is an integral part of our mission to support student success. By working with AWS, we were able to lower our costs and continue to focus on providing the best remote tutoring and learning experiences possible,” said Study Edge founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Ethan Fieldman.

Universities tap into the power of the cloud to welcome students

Already extensive users of AWS technology, as well as an AWS Cloud Innovation Center, Arizona State University (ASU) has been leveraging AWS to enhance student life across campuses and in the greater Phoenix area for several years. Like most schools, ASU offers a video component for almost all lectures to better accommodate distance learning. Ahead of the fall 2020 semester, ASU looked for a more scalable and robust solution than traditional videoconferencing tools to stream the ASU president’s annual welcome address for remote students. “We weren’t sure how many students would log into the stream, but we needed to be prepared to support up to 15,000 concurrent users,” explained John Rome, ASU deputy chief information officer (CIO).

Using Amazon Interactive Video Service (Amazon IVS), ASU mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) developer Krista Sefiddashti quickly created an interactive livestream channel on the main ASU website that could be accessed via a web browser, Android, and iOS platforms. During the address, viewers could react to the presentation using a menu of emoji reactions displayed across the bottom of the stream. “I had less than a week to get everything set up and learn Amazon IVS from scratch. The solution is new, but thankfully the documentation is great and I was able to do it all mostly myself,” noted Sefiddashti. “We didn’t have a lot of time for testing so watching the stream go off without a hitch proved a huge relief.”

While the president’s address streamed pre-recorded video, ASU is now delivering live content with Amazon IVS via its Sync Showcase initiative. Through it, select courses are available for public consumption. Upon logging in, viewers experience the lecture live, as if in an ASU virtual classroom, with Amazon IVS powering the stream.

“Being a leading innovative university, we’re constantly testing limits and aren’t scared to try anything. We’re always keen to jump ahead with each new AWS release and think about how we can leverage those technologies in our mission to engage our students and help the community,” Rome said.

How to use AWS for high-quality educational video streaming solutions

Looking for ways to increase engagement in educational video and remote learning environments? AWS provides a set of scalable and cost-effective services that lay the groundwork for you to reduce cost, innovate on top of your existing video capabilities, or meet demand with net new products. Watch this on-demand webinar to learn how to leverage the tools AWS can offer organizations to meet the rising demand of video streaming, live video interactions, and high-quality online learning.

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