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The Comprehensive Data Nerds

Rethinking Traditional Teaching


Education Elements partners with districts to design and implement personalized learning through our consulting services and highlight our personalized learning platform. We support four Race to the Top winners, 25 percent of the League of Innovative Schools and pioneering districts across the country. Our work helps districts to articulate their vision, build their capacity, design and implement new instructional models and, most importantly, impact student outcomes.

Arthur Svider

CTO, Education Elements, Inc.

San Carlos, California

"We’ve experienced 100% uptime over the last 12 months with the help from New Relic"

Technology & Education

For a long time our primary challenge as engineers was understanding exactly what kind of automated systems teachers and district leaders need for their teaching efforts. As a company, our goal is to increase student achievement and engagement in every school across the country. We do this by helping school districts change their approach to teaching and learning by creating personalized learning environments through our consulting services and our online platform. This is a big undertaking for districts because they need robust, easy-to-use technology to support this transformation. Our personalized learning platform makes it easier for teachers, leaders and students to incorporate our mission as part of their own.

Another challenge we face as a company operating in the complex edtech market is being able to adapt to the lack of ubiquitous data exchange standard. We overcome this by having a diverse mix of old and new technologies in our stack. For example, we use informatica for ETL tasks, Java/Pig/Hadoop for server-side functionality and data aggregation, and a combination of Node/Angular for frontend development. By combining these technologies, we are able to be flexible in virtually every task- from data provisioning and acquisition to delivering highly customized data insights to our clients through a beautiful, feature-rich UI.

Turning to Software Analytics

Schools rely on us for access to content providers’ apps and resources so if our system is down or doesn’t perform within acceptable standards, it prevents teachers from doing their job. In fact, it can feel like school is closed for the day when students and teachers cannot get online. Essentially, we are the “old-school” copper wire between two people chatting over the phone. We needed software analytics to make sure system is up, fast, scalable, and running without a hitch and that’s why we turned to New Relic.

Now, most of my days start with a glance over our New Relic APM console to see the stats collected over the last 24 hours. For me, the essential stats are changes in traffic patterns, timing of the key transactions, database load and potential slow queries. Since we employ continuous deployment and push releases into production on an almost daily basis, I found the “Deployments” tab particularly suitable for my needs because it helps me to quickly identify performance deltas from one release to another. Using it as a baseline, my fellow engineers and I can quickly identify and resolve the potential code problems, as well as lay out the plans for general system upgrade needs such as allocating larger EC2 instances, partitioning and cleaning up data and identifying needs for architectural changes.

What cool things are you doing with New Relic today?

New Relic was instrumental in solving one of the most persistent and nagging issues we had in our system: databases connection pool configuration. The level of visualization and insight into the inner works of this subsystem provided by New Relic was a lot easier to use and understand than what we used to monitor with.

Some of my favorite New Relic features include:

  • Transaction Traces: transaction traces help us identify specific segments of the workflow where slowness or erroneous behavior occurs. They help us to make informed decisions about bottleneck causes and save a lot of time which otherwise would have been spent doing research and measurements. It is a great feature to quickly distinguish code mishaps from issues stemming from bad configuration or insufficient capacity of system components.
  • Apdex Alerts: My first thought when I saw the Apdex alerting feature was integrating it into PagerDuty. I think this is a really good way to keep on-top of anything could potentially go wrong. As of right now we enjoy 0.99 Apdex on the server-side (200ms threshold) and 0.89 Apdex on the front-end (3 seconds threshold).

The Future of Education Elements

We have some really exciting new initiatives on the horizon as we continue to expand. Chief among them include moving a larger portion of our UI functionality into Node and building mobile interfaces for our product. We plan to use New Relic to continue to monitor on both of these projects.

We are also looking into more of the New Relic product suite by checking out Insights, Synthetics, and Browser. Overall, we really believe that life without New Relic would be a lot harder and our basic tasks would take a lot more time. New Relic helps us make things easier for teachers and students which is our end goal.

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