Gyanberry provides education consulting services to high-school students from India and the Gulf who wish to pursue higher education abroad. Etymology of the brand name hints at the company’s mission using a vivid multilingual imagery: combining gyan, which stands for ‘knowledge’ in Sanskrit, with the English word berry. For almost a decade, the agency has been sharing the ‘fruit of knowledge’ in the form of personalised support and guidance during course selection and university enrollment as well as assistance with pre-departure and student visa services. Gyanberry is also a strategic partner for universities, helping them market their educational offer and recruit international students.
The SchoolDoor platform combines functions enabling mutual search, networking, interactive messaging and event scheduling. The first version of this new EdTech application focuses on two types of users: high school counselors and university representatives. Their respective roles in the students’ admission journey require intensive collaboration and strategic communication, which can now be streamlined and coordinated via SchoolDoor.
Having completed the sign up process, verified users gain access to the dashboard – the heart and soul of the platform – with scheduling tools, statistics, a complete history of activity, and notifications. Representatives of both types of institutions can also search and browse other profiles using relevant filters. Making meaningful connections and a more comprehensive approach to available forms of engagement (visits to school campuses, webinars, Q&A sessions) give users a much-needed boost in their everyday efforts.
Gyanberry’s long-standing operations have been an invaluable source of insight into the main pain points affecting each participant of the admissions process. While the company’s offline business model enjoyed a number of benefits, including the trust factor due to the availability of local offices and teams, it had its limitations – most notably scalability issues and lack of data intelligence. What’s more, research into similar platforms suggested that the main focus is usually put on the search & browse functions, with little or none knowledge transfer and options of direct communication between applicants and institutions. With this in mind, SchoolDoor would offer a convenient alternative to the existing EdTech solutions.
MVP development: creating an EdTech experience
Having in mind a limited scope of the 1st MVP, we were looking to discover the compelling factor that could boost engagement of both target groups. Establishing effective and interactive communication channels was given top priority as a way to achieve greater involvement of partner institutions. Our client’s authority in international student mobility is undisputed. However, lack of experience in software development meant that Code & Pepper had to step up its game and provide more guidance in clarifying the final vision of the product. Having defined main goals and core functionalities in the course of intensive product-discovery sessions, a dedicated team of developers was mobilized to implement them at a breakneck speed.
Little did we know that the project would soon have to take a sudden turn… Social distancing and general lockdown brought by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic forced the client to rethink the long-term product strategy and make profound changes in the scope. New circumstances called for a focus shift in developing main features. Taking into account travel restrictions, all scheduling and event management tools had to work mainly in favour of online events, such as webinars. Giving up at this stage was not an option and the team at Code & Pepper demonstrated exceptional agility and determination. Not only did we swiftly adapt to the changing scope, but also managed to accommodate for last minute requests. An extra landing page was designed and developed in record time as an ultra lite compliment to the core platform.
Solutions for SchoolDoor
The product development team supplied by Code & Pepper included a dedicated Product Owner, a Web Designer/QA, three developers and a consulting Software Architect. When selecting technologies and frameworks, we were aiming for achieving optimal performance without compromising delivery plans or slowing down development pace. Efficient database management and built-in security features pointed to cloud hosting as a perfect choice for a budding EdTech with ambitions for international expansion. Thanks to CI/CD, automating deployment on every change in the code, the team could quickly review development results and provide early feedback.
The SchoolDoor platform offers various notifications for each type of users: from updates on connection requests and scheduled events to notifications for platform administrators about new signups. In order to achieve quality UI / UX and optimal cost-efficiency, we’ve proposed combining off-site email notifications (useful for sign up confirmations or in reset password flows) with on-site real-time notifications and near-instant messaging.
The application is hosted by Google Cloud Platform, ensuring all data storage is in compliance with GDPR. More tools offered by Firebase (e.g. Firebase Authentication, Firebase RealTime Database, Firebase Hosting) guarantee fully encrypted data both on server and in transit, thus complying with several ISO and SEC standards. Other selected encryption techniques and security solutions:
- Data transit between front-end and back-end is fully encrypted with HTTPS protocol and TLS certification.
- Data access policy is based on the least privilege principle.
- Hosting providers manage both front-end and back-end servers, running comprehensive security audits.
- The app is constantly monitored for compliance with rigorous boundaries of Lighthouse audits in terms of best practices, accessibility, and performance.
- All authentication processes use the latest industry standards, such as OpenID Connect, OAuth 2.0, and JSON Web Tokens.
From the first handshake at GITEX Technology Week in Dubai, we’ve been immediately captivated by the client’s vision of education as a universally accessible experience. Budget and time restrictions aside, we were invested in making sure this innovative EdTech MVP could be easily scaled in the future. Custom approach to developing real-time features enables adding new types of notifications, long after the whole system is up and running. The platform’s infrastructure is ready for scaling, enhancements and including new target groups, while the application architecture is built to withstand high volumes of traffic. This way, SchoolDoor will never disappoint its users and the motto – “Connect to grow” – can continue to materialize on all levels.
Code & Pepper is a great team to work with for anyone who has an idea and wants to bring it to life! It’s like having a pool of experts sitting right next to you. Their attention to detail, transparency and ability to meet deadlines is impressive.
Tejas Labhshetwar CEO at Gyanberry
Technology stack for SchoolDoor
Code & Pepper services for SchoolDoor
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