AskOwls provide live virtual classrooms for teachers and students to meet. The idea behind their platform is to enhance online education by making the learning social and interactive. The co-founder of AskOwls, Morgan Snowden, told us more.
What does your app do, and what problems does it solve for your users?
We provide virtual classrooms where teachers and students can meet for online, webcam-based, classes. The AskOwls platform thus enables teachers to access a global student pool, and students to find a teacher in virtually anything, wherever they may live.
What functionality is powered by Pusher?
We use Pusher’s presence channels to determine which users are currently online in a given class. We also use Pusher to power the real-time chatroom that is available in every class.
How does this new functionality improve the user experience for your users?
We originally added chat to AskOwls to help users who may have trouble getting the live-video feed, as this requires Flash, a modern browser and security settings to be configured. The chat channel is “always there” and a good place for the teacher to help a student get online.
We quickly found that it became an integral part of the classroom experience. For example, students can type questions without interrupting the class, and the teacher can answer them when they reach a natural break in the presentation.
The presence channel helps the teacher identify when everybody is online, and can thus begin the class. Without this feature the overall experience would be greatly diminished. In fact we’re also considering using Pusher for additional live-experiences, like a real-time quiz, where the first student to hit the “reply” button gets to answer.