In light of the recent COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen staggering demand for online courses as students grapple with a reality in which education is now delivered over the internet. But traditional e-learning platforms like Khanacademy struggle to keep up with the pace of demand, while LMS platforms like Canvas, which requires teachers to sign up as part of large, wealthy organizations such as school districts, are difficult to use and lockout small independent teachers that just want to continue teaching. And on top of all that, all platforms rely solely on one medium of teaching, such as Udemy through videos, and Edmodo through text, without regard for user learning preferences.
What is Modulus?
Modulus is an online education platform, similar in concept to Canvas or Blackboard, both of which are used by schools and universities around the nation. But unlike existing platforms, Modulus directly integrates the VARK learning styles - a psychological framework for teaching - into an incredibly simple to use, modular course structure that anyone can use to teach anything. The result is a fairer, more accessible, and more equitable online education for everyone.
Modulus includes VARK profiles, which are charts that display the proportions of different learning styles for a course or a user. Across the entire user interface, the colors and learning styles used in the profiles are consistent, which means you can tailor your education to your learning preferences. Fast, responsive, and intuitive, with no bloatware, unlike other LMS solutions that disadvantage those with poor hardware, slow internet connections, and little tech-savviness. Peer-to-peer: our platform lets anyone create, upload, and share courses, with the idea that we can recreate the Montessori model of learning in a digital environment.
How is Modulus used?
Modulus is used to create a digital classroom online, where teachers can post courses, assignments, lectures, and tests to share with students anyplace, anytime. Our goal is to recreate the best parts of modern educational methods, from VARK learning models to Montessori peer-to-peer instruction, in an online environment, so that as a society progress can continue to be made in the field of education, even from home during quarantine.
How I built it
We used React to develop the front end for the web application, while integrating with the Google Firebase service for backend database operations. For the landing page, we used Bootstrap, and React for the web app educational platform itself.
Challenges I ran into
This was the first time that our team used Firebase Google Cloud services for user authentication and data storage, so it was difficult to integrate that into our web app, which is written in React, a web framework we had learned for our first hackathon only two weeks ago. We encountered lots of issues thus with merging these new technologies together and deploying them successfully on Heroku.
Accomplishments that we’re proud of
Despite having just learned Firebase, and only having two weeks of experience with React and Bootstrap, we managed to do the following: A fully functional web platform, with an intuitive and extremely fast design. Full integration with a cloud-hosted database backend that tracks course enrollment for our individual users Automated emailing for password recovery Integrated course creation into the platform Anti-bot services like Recaptcha
What's next for Modulus
Our team hosts a tutoring service for middle school and high school students who either want to catch up or get ahead during this difficult time, so we plan on using this platform ourselves to promote education for all.
Who we are
High School Juniors from Seven Lakes High School, in Houston, Texas Daniel Wei - danielwei15#3016 Ryan Ma - GoblinRum#8553 Haoli Yin - Nano#4890