Building an open-source-based web application to help Education NGOs
Team: Suraj Patel, Chintan Gandhi, Jay Mohta
Mentors: Sandeep Konam, Arjun Narang, Haimanti Paulsarker
Many NGOs in India are working towards helping out the underprivileged kids with education. Most of these organizations seek help from outside volunteers, in addition to devoting their internal resources. These organizations need to manage the volunteers’ schedules as well as keep track of the academic performance of the students. Since these volunteers take time out of their daily jobs and serve as per their convenience, the school administration finds it challenging to manage to schedule and allocate resources efficiently. Moreover, the management also faces the problem of establishing the continuity of teaching for a particular course. KONAM Foundation aims to offer reliable solutions to both the volunteers and non-profit organizations, and help them on their quest to improve access, quality, and outcomes in the education sector.
Exploration and Approach
After engaging in multiple conversations with mentors from KONAM Foundation and Ishva Foundation (an NGO focused on creating learning centers in lesser-privileged urban communities), we narrowed down the scope to building a web application that can allow:
- Volunteers to indicate their availability, the schedule for classes, mark attendance from the classroom, cater to minor schedule changes, etc.
- Volunteers/mentors/teachers to know the classroom student’s abilities well and let them submit the progress of the students mentored/taught on an ongoing basis.
- Volunteers/mentors/teachers to upload, view, and share educational content, share their ideas.
We looked around and explored off-the-shelf software available for developing the application as per the above requirements. We came across Moodle and OpenEducat ERP (based on the Odoo management software). Having to choose between Odoo and Moodle, we picked Moodle due to the following reasons:
- Odoo is a proprietary, general-purpose ERP system, whereas Moodle is a full-fledged, open-source Learning Management System and is primarily used in the education sector.
- Moodle is open-source and widely used; hence, it has an active and functional community where both technical and non-technical aspects of Moodle are discussed. This kind of massive support is not available for Odoo and OpenEduCat.
Since Moodle is used mainly in the education sector, it already had some built-in features, but it required tweaking according to the requirements. So, we tried to customize the Moodle platform keeping in mind the organizational structures of NGOs. The plugins addressing the different features like attendance, reports, etc. had to be integrated appropriately with Moodle. The Moodle site was hosted on an Amazon server for testing, ubiquitous availability, and accessibility using web/mobile interfaces.
The tools mentioned would make the operations of NGO-operated learning centers efficient, measurable, and scalable. Students’ performances will be traceable and quantifiable, leading to correct intervention at the right time, in turn leading to better progress for each child, which is the end goal.