// case study 006

Top quality primary and high school online education.

Services Provided

  • Product Design

  • Web Development

Technology

A world-class platform for hosting online learning content, serving some of the most well-known online learning providers in the world, including Vodacom e-school, CambriLearn, and Lapin International.

The Challenge

In October 2015, online learner provider Top Dog approached Platform45 to assist with making changes to the front-end of an online learning platform for Vodacom.

Top Dog was under serious pressure to go live with Vodacom e-School, which was part of the telecom giant’s key corporate social responsibility projects. The go-live date was set for 4 January 2016, and the user interface just wasn’t working.

Education is as much of a ‘what you learn’ as a ‘how you learn’, so it was critical the platform deliver the kind of educational experience that would make a real impact for learners.

The Solution

Our first priority was to assist our client in getting the Vodacom e-School up and running by their deadline. While that was happening, we began building the Top Dog platform. It was a complete rethink and rebuild and shared some of the original features.

MyTopDog is built on Ruby on Rails and hosts learning support based on the South African state school curriculum (called CAPS) for grades 4 to 12. It has effectively gamified the learning process, showing students their progress, achievements and badges on a fun dashboard. It’s a custom, adaptive learning experience that delivers and recommends online lessons, interactive assessments and mock exams. Working in a linear flow, Top Dog supplies explanations for correct and incorrect answers in assessments, done in pop quiz style, for each subject and module.

"Top Dog summarises a lot of concepts in simple form. I understand more when using this website, hence I was able to master some topics because of it."

Zinhle

Student

The Vodacom e-School, which runs on the Top Dog platform, went on to win the Social Impact Award in the 2017 AppsAfrica.com Innovation Awards competition. It is officially partnered with the Department of Basic Education, has also recently introduced content for Grd R to 3 learners. It is zero-rated for all Vodacom customers.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most popular subject on both the Vodacom e-School and the MyTopDog platform is Grd 12 Maths.

"When the last period bell rings, my son no longer waits to play at school - he rushes home fast, eats, does homework, and then goes onto Top Dog. He says it’s educational and useful."

Marvelous

Parent

Top Dog has since white-labelled its platform and has several tenants, including CambriLearn (content based on the British school syllabus), Just Learning (CAPS syllabus), and the Lapin Online Leadership Academy (corporate soft skills).

Cambrilearn

When we customised the Top Dog platform for CambriLearn, several additional features were added, including video chat group sessions, a calendar booking system for the group sessions, and discussion forums for all subjects. CambriLearn also has a feature that allows for the submission of handwritten assignments.

Community Outreach

That’s not where the customisation ended. Top Dog recently partnered with the Sizwe IT Group, who sponsored shipping containers fitted out with laptops that have access to MyTopDog.co.za, that seat up to 27 students a time. These shipping containers are placed in rural areas, where disadvantaged students can have free access to the online learning programme. These containers are fitted with a server, and Top Dog-hosted content is delivered from these terminals as an offline solution.

What's Next

Platform45 has worked closely with Top Dog on a massive UX overhaul that was implemented in increments. In the user research phase, we had students come in, test the new interface and share their feedback, incorporating their suggestions. Vodacom e-School went live first with the UX overhaul, and the rest of the tenants updated to the new interface in October 2017. Since, there has been a steady increase in page views for all tenants, indicating that the Top Dog platform is being used more and more.

Benefits to client

  • White-labelling and commercialisation of the product

  • Ability to host multiple tenants

  • Detailed, automated reporting in multiple formats

  • Regular customisation, for instance, the recent offline solution

  • A platform for Top Dog Education to run their entire business on

UP NEXT

// case study 001

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