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65. Scaling Tech for Teachers
Apr 13, 2020
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Sandy Lai is a customer solutions architect at Heroku, and she is interviewing two employees at Panorama Education: Ben Small, a software engineer, and Mitch Peabody, an engineering manager. Panorama is a platform designed to help educators, teachers, and principals, understand their students and their community by offering feedback surveys. As different schools have different technical expertise in their districts, Panorama caters its product to meet those needs. Different schools have different systems in place--sometimes as many as two or three different platforms in the same district--and Panorama built technology to pull that disparate data into one location to provide holistic (and individual) views into the results.

The team at Panorama has found that schools largely rely on paper as they're extremely cautious about the data that is being shared on the kids in their classrooms. Security and privacy are top priorities for everyone at Panorama, from the CEO on down. They established a security working group to meet once a week and commit to making sure that security best practices are being taught and followed across the company. They also offer annual training for all employees on how to protect customer data.

Panorama's currently tackling challenges around scaling, both from its customers and as the business itself hires more employees. There is a certain seasonality to their work, where the Spring and Fall months tend to be the most active months on the platform. There's also the issue of timing, where hundreds of thousands of users log in at around the same time. To help offset this, Panorama rolls feature changes out across timezones. That is, when the schools on America's East Coast are finished around 3pm, new updates are deployed for that region, a process that continues westward. This way, they're able to ensure reliability without disruption to the future time zones for their end-of-day rush.

Links from this episode

  • Panorama Education helps educators use data to support each student’s needs, and helps leaders build great schools.
  • Panorama build their app using an event sourcing architecture
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