Art of the possible. Solving online education challenges with Syncplicity

Art of the possible. Solving online education challenges with Syncplicity
Art of the possible. Solving online education challenges with Syncplicity

By Ravee Chintha & Andrea Oddo

John Sculley, ex-CEO of Apple once said, “You can build great product, but you have to convince that you are selling something greater.” Similarly, I have grown fond of Syncplicity by Axway because of the challenges it can solve in the real world. Before joining Axway as an API solutions architect, I spent nine years in the online education industry building, deploying and supporting student, staff and faculty related services by exposing campus applications and data via secured APIs.

Online education challenges

One of the most common challenges we often hear from students is the online submission of assignments. To outline a few:

  1. Students cannot email the assignment as attachments because of the size limitations.
  2. Faculty complains about not receiving assignment in time because of unknown delays (network, virus scans, firewall etc.).
  3. Cases where faculty received email attachments which had virus traces.
  4. Students lost their assignments because of a system crash and cannot recover the data.

These situations illustrate that the online education experience between students and faculty can be challenging. So how can we make the entire experience around assignment submission seamless? How can we get students and faculty to collaborate better in terms of sharing content? The simple answer is “Syncplicity.” Syncplicity is a file sharing and content collaboration tool provided by Axway. The service lets users store and synchronize files between computers while utilizing encrypted centralized storage (either in the cloud, on-premises or a combination). It supports Microsoft Windows and macOS, the two most common OS used by students across the globe. Additionally, Syncplicity is a Gold Partner of Microsoft which enables some cool integration with Office 365.

How Syncplicity helps students submit online

Now let’s see how Syncplicity can help in creating a content collaboration better experience in few simple steps.

  1. Student enrolls into a specific course via the University’s website
  2. As part of course enrollment, a specific folder gets created automatically in Syncplicity by calling one of the APIs available in Syncplicity. Student has permissions to upload, download and delete content. Faculty will only have read-only access to the content within the folder.
Art of the possible. Solving online education challenges with Syncplicity
Figure 1 Student Folder with University Parent
Art of the possible. Solving online education challenges with Syncplicity
Figure 2 Student Joseph Blow has Editor permissions to his own folder
Art of the possible. Solving online education challenges with Syncplicity
Figure 3 Professor X has been added with Reader permission
  1. Student can either upload the assignment to the folder via web UI. Or student can save the assignment in the course folder on the personal work station. The contents within the folder is automatically synchronized by Syncplicity software agent on the work station.
Art of the possible. Solving online education challenges with Syncplicity
Figure 4 All content is securely stored within the Syncplicity application

Backing up that homework

The approach outlined above has several advantages. Seamless experience around sharing and collaborating content is an obvious one. The not so obvious one is the automated versioning and backup. Every time a student modifies the content, a backup version of the current document will be created. Should a file be accidentally deleted, the student can always retrieve the content. Remember ransomware attack? Yup! Students are not spared of such attacks. Our existing customers were barely affected by ransomware attack because they are able to access the backed up version on Syncplicity. Through a single action all content before the ransomware attack can be restored! Additionally – if students have to change their laptop (due to hardware failure or leaving it in a bar J ) all they need to do is log into their Syncplicity account and all their data will be downloaded effortlessly again (or always accessible on the web or in our mobile client).

The above example is confined to assignment submissions. Undoubtedly, it applies to other scenarios across students’ journeys with an education institutional. That includes their medical records, payment confirmations, course reading materials, signed enrollment forms, grades information, events schedule etc.

In my next blog, I will explain in detail the importance of Syncplicity APIs and their key role in automating content collaboration aspects. Stay tuned!

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