If the current COVID-19 health pandemic has shown us anything it is that those education institutions that are nimble, agile, and that have already embraced digital solutions are at the forefront of meeting the changing demands of learners. Setting a global example is the independent school group, Curro Holdings, whose foresight in its technology decisions not only helped gear it to jump to on-line learning but is now enabling it to offer its students and educators a platform to support and deliver hybrid learning. At home and in the classroom.
The journey started when Curro Schools partnered with First Technology in the Western Cape and VMware, requesting assistance with a solution that would help it to transform its technology infrastructure, so that it could truly deliver a digital education experience across geographies, endpoints, learners, parents and educators.
It was a bold move, but it was one that has been quintessential to supporting its desire to provide reliable education from anywhere and offer learners working remotely access to the same platforms they have at school bridging the gap between traditional schooling and various forms of remote schooling.
According to Riaan Vlok, Head of IT at Curro Holdings, the real test on educators is using technology to bring the curriculum to life in a digitally centred world. Curro pioneered the use of digital textbooks or “ink behind glass” in South Africa early on and today it offers a media and content-rich educational experience that teachers, learners and parents are used to in other areas of digital life.
“In Africa, many are battling with the transition from traditional learning methods to a digital learning experience due to limited digital exposure. At Curro, we deliver education centred around the learner, and our systems must support this insight-driven educational experience enabling learners to absorb learning better wherever they are. Today we are creating the most comprehensive educational technology platform available today. It serves school administrators, teachers, parents and learners through an innovative digitally integrated experience,” he adds
Partnering with First Technology Western Cape, a VMware reseller and systems integrator, the company has deployed a virtual data centre using VMware VSAN, VMware vSphere, and all the sub-services within VSAN. This allows for sharing, movement and collaboration between schools of teachers, learners and learning resources and leverages its existing hardware environment while supporting its hybrid cloud.
With VSAN, the company is less hardware-dependant and turned its traditional, often idle infrastructure, into a high availability data centre able to perform disaster recovery more effectively. Vlok says he is now able to significantly improve the management of the demand-driven technology requirement by “bursting and shrinking” cloud capacity from his cloud service providers.
“We have seen a massive increase in our ability to scale and prioritise workloads, right down to a code and development level. We are planning to introduce artificial intelligence (AI) with our VMware solution to help us dynamically allocate infrastructure and resources. Looking ahead we want to use behavioural AI to help prioritise IT services as well as map our responses to events,” he says.