VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY DELIVERS ENGAGING AND SEAMLESS LANGUAGE LEARNING ON AWS CLOUD
The Faculty of English (FOE) is part of the University of Languages and International Studies (ULIS) under Vietnam National University (VNU), one of the top public research universities in Vietnam. The FOE conducts English language classes for up to 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students per year across VNU’s member institutions.
In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted face-to-face teaching and students shifted to online learning, the FOE experienced a user surge on its learning management system (LMS). Almost 5,000 students across 161 classes use the LMS at any given time, compared to almost 2,000 students before the pandemic.
To deliver high-quality online learning to thousands of English language students, the FOE worked with The Online Management Training Company (OMT), a Vietnamese educational technology provider, to migrate its LMS workloads to the AWS Cloud.
“With the AWS Cloud, we successfully met students’ learning needs throughout the pandemic and even improved student satisfaction with 94 percent positive student ratings compared to 70 percent before the migration. Recent feedback from students indicates that the online test interface was accessible, convenient, and effective in sustaining learning during lockdown. We also maintained consistent academic performance for our students and earned the full support of VNU-ULIS leadership.” – Dr. Vu Thi Thanh Nha, Dean of the Faculty of English, University of Languages and International Studies
Enhancing Student Experience with Cloud-Based Learning
OMT has been the FOE’s IT partner since 2015, providing solutions such as a customized LMS set up in 2017 to deliver online language learning resources.
To equip the LMS with multimedia functions and minimize processing times, the FOE worked closely with OMT to migrate to the AWS Cloud in October 2019 and run its existing LMS services on Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC).
Using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) for secure, resizable cloud compute capacity, OMT migrated LMS workloads to the AWS Cloud within 4 months with minimal disruption to student learning. The FOE can now offer students a mix of face-to-face and online learning with new audio and video assignment features, and scale up to 100 percent online learning when required.
Dr. Vu Thi Thanh Nha, dean of the FOE, explains that the move enabled the FOE to provide continuous and high-quality learning service delivery.
“With the AWS Cloud, we successfully met students’ learning needs throughout the pandemic and even improved student satisfaction with 94 percent positive student ratings compared to 70 percent before the migration. Recent feedback from students indicates that the online test interface was accessible, convenient, and effective in sustaining learning during lockdown. We also maintained consistent academic performance for our students and earned the full support of VNU-ULIS leadership,” says Dr. Nha.
Scalable Learning Solutions to Meet Changing Needs
Before the pandemic, on-premises servers supported the LMS for up to 20 percent online learning for each FOE course. However, this proved inadequate for increased loads especially during exam periods, with students experiencing intermittent connections dropouts and data loss while attempting to upload content to the LMS.
To improve students’ learning experience and exam performance, Dau Thuy Ha, chief executive officer of OMT, explains that it equipped the LMS to automatically scale up to meet changing user volumes and ensure high availability during peak traffic periods.
“Optimal platform performance is especially crucial during exams, when there are hundreds of students concurrently completing time-critical assessments and the LMS portal has to handle up to 70,000 requests per minute. The highly stable cloud-based platform currently experiences 99.9 percent uptime with over 95 percent less data loss when students upload their content,” says Dau.
With Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to provide scalable, secure, and high-performance data storage, OMT modified the LMS to allow students and teachers to upload large media files up to 60MB in size. This added new audio and video assignment features that were previously not available due to compute and storage constraints.
OMT also uses AWS Serverless Application Repository to manage and deploy serverless applications, and Amazon CloudFront for fast and highly secure content delivery. From 2019 to 2021, OMT developed these LMS enhancements with the FOE and provided training to equip faculty members with the skills and support to ensure successful implementation.
Accelerating Remote Learning
Dr. Nha explains that the FOE is proud to be among the first public institutions in Vietnam to offer students round-the-clock, cloud-based learning solutions.
“With the pandemic accelerating shifts to online learning and examinations across Vietnam, these technologies are becoming more mainstream and our LMS system can be easily customized to benefit students across other faculties and universities,” she added.
To further improve service delivery and continuity, the FOE hopes to expand its online assessment capabilities with a new virtual proctoring identity verification application and offer embedded video conferencing features on its LMS.