Introducing Escuela: An Open Platform for Academiescalendar_today Posted 2 months ago · 6 minute-read · Showcase
I’ve been working the past several weeks on a passion project that I intend to launch in the future.
“Escuela: an open platform for academies”
This project is one that I’ve been wanting to make a reality for a few reasons:
- To practice scalability from the get-go by using AWS cloud services (EC2, EBS, S3, RDS, ELB…) and in general to practice building apps on this stack, leveraging cloud computing.
- … and to make my tutors’ lives easier. I’ll elaborate more on this.
There are many teachers today that prefer running their own private tuition business instead of becoming part of a larger organization, as it is likely more profitable than working for the government as a teacher.
On the internet you can find hundreds of professionals putting up ads for private lessons about any branch of knowledge you can imagine, and students are more and more going to private tutors to strengthen their academic performance.
Here’s an interesting The Guardian article on how private tutoring is becoming a “booming industry”.
Escuela wants to considerably simplify this business. Tutors can use Escuela as a platform to manage their work: student management, course material, enrollments and payments, direct tutor-student communication, and more.
In my experience from having received private tutoring, these professionals did not have any software to manage their work. They got by with regular social media to contact students, and making course material out of paper and just handing it out.
Escuela works for tutors, students and parents:
Escuela for tutors
Tutors will find their business greatly simplified by using Escuela. Here are some of the main ways Escuela will help tutors:
- Business Exposure
Escuela strives to become a very busy e‑learning platform for tutoring entrepreneurs. Ideally, when Escuela gains traction and has thousands of members using the platform, tutors will be able to gain exposure and attract new students by just publishing their course on the platform.
- In-depth Course Management for In-Person and Remote Tutoring
Tutors are able to manage everything related to their course(s): time schedules, coursework, enrollments, students and grades, and communication. Escuela is effectively a one-stop-shop for tutoring entrepreneurs.
- A Secure Medium to Communicate with Students
Tutors might not want students to have their personal social media in order to communicate (or vice-versa). It would be much better to communicate through a platform dedicated to this for the sake of both parties involved.
Escuela forces every student under the age of 18 to register a parent/legal guardian along with their own account, with access to every content the child sees on the platform, including any messaging between the tutor and the student.
Escuela for students
Students will benefit from using Escuela as their learning platform in the following ways:
- A Catalog for In-Person and Online Courses
Escuela will serve anybody looking for something new to learn, and can decide to learn online or in-person (as long as the course supports it).
- A Free Course Management Platform
Escuela (the platform) is completely free of charge. Students only pay for the courses with prices set by the tutor. Escuela gives you your own private space to manage your courses, see your progress, schedule, homework and more.
- Direct Communication with Tutors
Need to ask something you didn’t understand during a lesson? Just send the tutor a message on the platform, no need for emails, social media, or anything else!
Escuela for parents and legal guardians
Escuela enables parents and legal guardians to use the platform to ensure the correct usage by students under the age of 18.
- Keep An Eye on Your Children
Escuela forces every user under the age of 18 to register a parent/legal guardian account along with them to oversee their activity on platform. Escuela has a system in place to allow parents to check in on their childrens’ course progress and activity such as messaging on the platform. Anything the child sees, the parent can also see and monitor.
- Easy and Secure Parent-Tutor Communication
Have fruitful conversations with tutors about your children and have tutors tell you about their progress directly through the platform without using any external ways of communication.
As you can see, Escuela is a complete and robust platform for everybody, connecting tutors, parents and students in a secure way.
Escuela’s main competitor
Moodle is a well-known PHP LMS (Learning Management System) that has been in the scene for about 18 years. The software itself is free and open-source, but they offer paid, managed hosting for their free software as their business model.
Escuela would have an advantage here, since tutors do not have to pay for hosting or publishing their courses. Escuela as a platform is free of cost.
Moodle is also very dated software, which has not kept up with the times in terms of how people use websites today. Escuela is inclined towards a more social platform with a dynamic and modern user interface, as you may find on current social networks such as Facebook or Instagram.
So… what am I building Escuela with? Here’s a list of all the technologies I’m using:
- React 16 for web-based client.
- React Native for the Android mobile client.
- Node.js 12 using Express, microservice architecture for scalability on AWS EC2 instances.
- MariaDB (RDS AWS Service) as the relational database engine.
- Mailgun for emails, Twilio for SMS, OneSignal for mobile push notifications.
- WebSockets over SSL/TLS.
- Stripe for payment processing.
This article was only to introduce Escuela and what it’s meant to achieve, stay tuned for a more technical article on the application’s architecture in detail.
Thanks for sticking around!