Curriculet Creates Fully-featured E-Learning Platform Using PubNub

curriculetCurriculet is an eReading platform where students can read any text with an embedded layer of annotations, questions, and quizzes. These layers are called curriculets and provide instruction and in-context assessment. Curriculet allows teachers to track student mastery of literacy skills and Common Core standards in real time.

Custom Building Data Stream Infrastructure Became Way to Costly

Curriculet needed a publish/subscribe platform to communicate with users asynchronously. The Curriculet platform has long running processes to produce reports, analyze and prepare data for visualization, and distribute materials to a large number of users.

To inform users about the status and progress of these long running processes, they needed a way to communicate with users in realtime. Curriculet also needed to reduce the complexity of their backend-messaging infrastructure, while increasing capacity and reliability.

The Curriculet engineering team first elected to deploy and maintain an open source, messaging infrastructure.

For their publish/subscribe layer and asynchronous messaging, they used traditional HTTP rest requests, using the open source Faye. However, this infrastructure became increasingly expensive to orchestrate and maintain for Curriculet’s development team.

As we looked into the available real time messaging options we naturally focused on open source solutions but they are not easy to implement and the cost of operating and maintaining them is really high,” said Mauricio Alvarez, CTO and Cofounder of Curriculet.

“As soon as you start thinking about reliability, having to maintain your own reliable infrastructure in the different geographic zones we serve it gets expensive.”

maintain reliable infrastructure in different geographic zones

Embedded assessments

Picking PubNub

To replace their open source messaging infrastructure, Curriculet began looking at data stream network providers. It was ease of use, global scalability, and pricing that set PubNub apart from the competition.

“You see the [PubNub] code examples and it is hard not to be skeptical. You have this gigantic infrastructure that you can take advantage of with three lines of JavaScript.”

The fast and seamless integration was due in part to PubNub’s extensive documentation for integrating a publish/subscribe network.

“When we landed on PubNub, the time it took us to go from zero to deployed solution, and the ease of not having to operate anything, made it the right choice.”

Building a Realtime Messaging Layer

Interactive annotations

Building a Realtime Messaging Layer

Curriculet uses PubNub Data Streams in three key areas of their eReading platform: asynchronous user communication, tracking reading patterns, and tracking student ‘s performance.

  1. Asynchronous Communication: The Curriculet platform has some long running [processes, including distributing content, producing reports and analyzing data. With PubNub Data Streams, they are able to inform the customer in realtime about the progress of their operations and then use PubNub to feed data for visualization, display the appropriate reports, and dynamically update specific metrics all in realtime.
  2. Tracking user’s reading patterns: As students read through a text, Curriculet tracks and logs activity like page turns, quiz response time, and abandon patterns. These realtime analytics give the teacher insight into the effort a student is making to complete an assignment and how a student progresses through the text.
  3. Realtime View of Student Status: With PubNub Presence, Curriculet gives teachers realtime analytics on who is reading at a given time and view into the progress of each individual student.

Teachers Need Realtime

The PubNub Data Stream network has enabled realtime functionality on the Curriculet platform that would otherwise require heavy development time, costs, and maintenance. Instead, Curriculet could easily integrate PubNub Data Streams and Presence, and concentrate on building learining focused features that give teachers realtime actionable data at the point of instruction and  students a seamless and timely learning experience.

“What attracts teachers to Curriculet is ease of use and the reading insight we provide. The realtime reports and dynamic status panels that tell them how their students are performing is what they really like. PubNub is a fundamental piece of our reading Insight infrastructure because student activity is captured and results delivered via PubNub,” said Alvarez.

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