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Lessonbee Reinvents Health Education with AWS EdStart

2020

Lessonbee Inc. is dedicated to reinventing the K–12 health class experience. The company developed a cloud-based adaptive digital curriculum for health education self-directed learning. “Every day, millions of children struggle to feel healthy and perform at their best, yet teachers and parents lack resources to connect with students and address their increasingly complex health challenges,” says Reva McPollom, founder and chief executive officer at Lessonbee. “Research shows healthy students behave better and perform better academically. I created Lessonbee to give teachers and parents the tools to provide culturally responsive health education so students can learn to manage and nourish their own health, and subsequently show up in and out of school as their best selves.”

The Lessonbee platform helps students make responsible health choices through a self-paced learning experience rooted in brain science and culturally responsive practices. Lessonbee uses adaptive design and conversational learning to create interactive lessons to challenge a learner’s existing health-related misconceptions. The lessons feature diverse characters and stories anchored in simulated social media and texting experiences. These stories aim to help learners practice decision-making and develop their intellective capacity. Using Lessonbee, teachers can access up-to-date content, track and manage student assignments, and engage students through regular reflection.

While developing Lessonbee’s ground-breaking health curriculum was challenging, McPollom’s biggest obstacle was technological. “When we went to market initially, we quickly realized we didn't have an infrastructure that could scale to meet our customer demand. On top of that, I didn’t have an in-house technical lead, so I had significant technical debt to resolve before I could further evolve the product,” she says.

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AWS EdStart was the bridge we needed to connect with peers we could collaborate with.”

Reva McPollom
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Lessonbee

Improving Scalability and Security with AWS

Although Lessonbee was born on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud, the company initially used only basic AWS services. To address her technology challenges, McPollom hired Ankur Kumar as Lessonbee’s director of engineering, who immediately began to leverage additional AWS tools to improve Lessonbee’s scalability and security. For example, the company was using third party SSL certificates on servers that were not properly updated and integrated, and Kumar knew migrating to AWS Certificate Manager could solve those issues.

“Using AWS tools also allowed us to develop our application and cloud infrastructure in a modular and scalable manner,” says Kumar. “We have since added several other AWS tools, so we are now leveraging a complete suite of AWS modules.” Among these tools were Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) Multi-AZ Deployments to improve data privacy and security; Elastic Load Balancing, AWS Auto Scaling, and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) to improve scalability; and AWS Lambda for asynchronous reporting and analytics.

With a solid and scalable infrastructure in place, Lessonbee turned to the AWS EdStart program for support and guidance. AWS EdStart helps entrepreneurs quickly build the next generation of online learning, analytics, and campus management on the AWS Cloud.

McPollom’s first exposure to AWS EdStart was a pitch competition. “The pitch competition was a really good introduction to AWS EdStart. It was great to see the investment AWS was putting into supporting education startup founders, and it was exciting to see that there's a real community there. It was also great to connect with other people in educational technology (EdTech) trying to solve similar problems. AWS EdStart was the bridge we needed to connect with peers we could collaborate with.”

AWS EdStart and Lessonbee teams now connect on a regular basis to examine the company’s infrastructure and brainstorm how the company might leverage technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to extend the Lessonbee platform into new areas. “We want to look at the possibilities beyond EdTech, potentially into healthcare technology (HealthTech), and maybe even more broadly into wellness. I'm excited to continue to see what's possible,” says McPollom.

Beyond technical assistance, AWS EdStart has also recently connected Lessonbee with a company that can assist with Lessonbee’s sales and go-to-market strategy. “Having that direct sales force that has decades of experience in selling to schools and districts will be the difference between our success and failure as a startup EdTech company,” says McPollom.

Reinventing Health Education

“When I started Lessonbee, I remember thinking there’s so much innovation going into math, science, and other areas, so how is it that health class has not changed in 50 years?” says McPollom. Lessonbee is working to change that. Earlier in the year, the company’s curriculum was approved by the Chicago Public Schools Office of Student Health and Wellness and the New York City Office of School Wellness Programs, which means schools in both districts can adopt Lessonbee with confidence knowing that the curriculum meets local and national health education guidelines. Lessonbee has since been implemented with thousands of students in Illinois, New York, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

According to McPollom, the guidance of AWS EdStart and the use of AWS tools have been instrumental in helping Lessonbee achieve these goals. “Had these things not fallen into place, we might not be here today. It takes time to get a solution implemented across a district, and when you do, the stakes are high to deliver an exceptional customer experience. To mitigate the risk, we’ve worked with AWS and AWS EdStart to ensure that our infrastructure is scalable, secure, and compliant, so that our customers have the best experience with our product possible,” says McPollom.

“We just got a new batch of about 2,000 students, and the platform was able to handle the traffic without a problem because we had Elastic Load Balancing in place,” adds Kumar.

Going forward, McPollom and Kumar plan to examine how Lessonbee might leverage AWS AI and ML solutions for its recommendation and certification engines, among other things. “To quote Charles Payne, there has been ‘so much reform and so little change,’” says McPollom. “Our goal is to reinvent health education, promote lifelong learning, continuously evolve and adapt as a business, and to encourage other EdTech startups to think outside the box and create solutions that support the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students.”

To learn more, visit aws.amazon.com/education/edstart.


Lessonbee Inc.

Lessonbee is an online learning platform that enables members to find their path to health and share their passion for health with others. At Lessonbee, members can access and create online courses and classes to develop knowledge, skills, and values for healthy living. 

Benefits of AWS

  • Ensures infrastructure is scalable, secure, and compliant 
  • Delivers a cloud-based learning system focused on culturally responsive health education

AWS Services Used

Amazon EC2

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.

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AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume.

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Amazon RDS

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.

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AWS EdStart

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 on the AWS Cloud.

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