Freestone Powers Immersive, Interactive E-Learning App With PubNub

abila_pnmPeach New Media is an online learning technology and services company focused on helping organizations change society and improve lives through knowledge sharing and continuous learning. Each year, Peach New Media delivers thousands of realtime broadcasts to learners and educators across the world through their online education and live event platform Freestone™.

Freestone is a realtime proprietary learning platform that enables users to stream live webcasts and webinars, as well as chat, on desktop as well as mobile devices. Freestone also offers on-demand programs and continuing education certifications to their constituents.

A Reliable, Scalable Messaging Layer

When creating Freestone, it was Peach New Media’s philosophy to create a rich, accessible, and complete learning experience for its users. In order accomplish this, they knew that realtime functionality would have to be at the core of the platform.

Though Peach New Media’s dev team had the experience to build their own communication servers, they realized early in the development timeline the high costs and difficulties of doing so. To ensure global reliability and guaranteed scalability for their growing user base, the engineering team went with the PubNub Data Stream Network.

“We have been doing webcast for almost ten years and using PubNub for almost two. It was when we wanted to add realtime presentation capabilities that we decided to launch with PubNub. After that, we slowly started adding stuff onto PubNub to offload it from our servers to deal with scale and also reap the realtime benefits.” -Cameron Aubuchon, CTO at Peach New Media.

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Realtime Speed and Reliability to Mimic Real Life Interaction

Utilizing PubNub Pub/Sub Messaging, the Freestone learning platform enables presenters and audience members to send and receive slides in 1/4 second speed. Each slide change, polling question, is sent out via PubNub. This communication speed helps create the timely, realistic learning experience that Peach New Media desires for the Freestone learning platform.

“The reason we looked for a realtime solution was because the way we were doing it before was inefficient. Everyone on the event was on a loop. They would hit our server every thirty seconds, check in, and ask for information. This posed a couple of challenges for us. Scaling was difficult. If every single person on the webcast is hitting the server every 30 seconds, we would need more server resources than if we were just serving up the page and passing the information through another channel. The second challenge was that our platform was not realtime at all. A 30 second loop works fine for attendance checks – 30 seconds does not make much of a difference. But when a presenter is giving a presentation, 30 seconds off on a slide is a deal-breaker.“

Pub/Sub Messaging also allows presenters and attendees to chat with one another in realtime. This creates a more rich and engaging experience for both parties. Additionally, Freestone has a public chat that can be enabled that lets attendees chat with each other, creating a true classroom environment.

To further emulate this classroom environment, Freestone is able to give presenters a realtime view of what attendees are online and offline. Attendance checks lets presenters know who is active, for continuing purposes they have to verify they are actually watching.

“PubNubs presence functionality is great, it allows us to know exactly who is watching at all times without having to constantly pass messages back and forth between the attendee and our server”

Why PubNub?

“I realized pretty quickly that I did not want to maintain that server. I have never had to deal with a PubNub outage like I have with other vendors.”

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