With the belief that games can be used as a learning tool, Singapore-based Skoolbo recently launched a game-based education platform on Microsoft Azure.
Known as Skoolbo Core Skills platform, the online-multi-player game features 3D worlds, individualised avatars and a rewards system. It aims to improve learning experiences, particularly in English and Mathematics, among children aged four to 10. It also provides parents and teachers comprehensive reports on students' strengths and weaknesses.
Tay Kok Chin, director for partnerships of Skoolbo, believes that the platform will appeal to children today as they are digital natives. "Kids are already playing games and interacting with apps on smartphones and tablets. We realised that if we could offer educational games that are fun to play, children would learn whilst also enjoying the platform. Even spending just 30 minutes a day on educational games can lead to results, in terms of improving literacy and mathematics skills."
Reasons for choosing Azure
Skoolbo runs its educational applications on open source software. WordPress, PHP and MySQL are used for its website's front-end; Node.js is used to run its core applications; and its application database is running on MongoDB. This is run on top of Linux Ubuntu Server 12.04, which is provisioned by Azure.
According to Shane Hill, CEO of Skoolbo, Azure's compatibility with open source software helped ensure a smooth path to deployment. He added that the complete migration took less than two months.
Azure was also chosen as it enabled Skoolbo to scale as needed and be cost-efficient. "Whenever we launch school promotional campaigns, traffic and resource usage increases nearly tenfold. With Azure, we can easily provision extra resources to handle these spikes. After which, we can scale back down to keep costs low," said Hill.
Microsoft BizSpark aids growth
Since Skoolbo is under Microsoft BizSpark Plus Programme, the company receives US$5,000 in free monthly credits towards the use of Azure, 40 percent discount on pay-as-you-go rates, and free usage of Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) software.
Besides that, the programme provides Skoolbo access to a global community of advisors, investors and a growing global network of over 2,400 partners. The company is also given access to Microsoft software and services including Office 365, SQL Server, Microsoft Azure and Visual Studio, as well as business and technical support.
Currently, more than five million students in 22,000 schools globally are subscribing to Skoolbo's services. The company aims to grow its user base to 100 million users over the next 5 years, and believes that Azure will enable it to expand its user base without worrying about its IT resources.
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