#Datafree to bridge the education divide

Johannesburg, 29 Jun 2021

The search by enterprises for innovative ways to do more with less, particularly in developing countries where access to digital resources is costly and constrained by quality coverage, has become relentless fuelled by a global pandemic. TouchToLearn bridges this gap to connect brands with both consumers and workforce via a unique #datafree mobile app. It’s a cost-effective solution for digital content delivery in developing markets where data is expensive and coverage is poor, while providing valuable insights on users’ understanding and experience with the brand. 

Testimony to the extraordinary effectiveness of TouchToLearn is borne by the international award-winning BPO specialist group CallForce with its fully white-labelled version called Engage. Candice Roberts, founder and group CEO, says: “This platform has enabled us to quickly engage remote staff on a variety of topics, to keep them informed, motivated and equip them with the knowledge necessary to be the best they can be without the dependence on costly data.

“While numerous use cases abound during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as employee well-being, maintaining compliance with lockdown regulations and even knowledge sharing of tips about managing personal finances more efficiently, we also offer this as a fully managed service for our clients to enhance consumer experience too.

“I have an incredible team who are constantly finding news ways to improve performance with Engage and collectively foster a passion to use this innovative technology of TouchToLearn to positively impact millions of lives at a time when the world is reeling from the disruption of COVID-19,” says Candice.

CallForce spearheaded projects in the South African community to drive digital upskilling of SA’s youth to combat unemployment and recently won the award for Outstanding Delivery by a Service Provider at the ISG Paragon Awards Asia Pacific. The company is also responsible for hiring +300 new staff since March 2020, more than 75% of which are black South African women.

What became ever more apparent during South Africa’s first lockdown, and subsequent home schooling, is that there is a massive digital divide between different sectors of the population. Some scholars had access to data and were able to stream their lessons at home, while the majority of others were left behind: 4IR seemed to pass them by.

TouchToLearn is a technology platform that connects brands and content with people, whether a company’s stakeholders, ie, workforce and consumers or even scholars and students. It achieves this via its #datafree mobile app. This is a critical technology for those with limited access to data.

Founder Edwin Roberts explains: “We provide a cost-effective solution for digital content delivery in developing markets, where data is expensive and coverage is poor. The opportunities are endless. If an infant can learn from video then adults can too, so we developed a technology platform that can deliver proprietary video content to the end-user without them incurring data costs. We effectively put a brand ambassador, teacher, nurse or financial advisor in your pocket. A scholar or student can now literally have a tutor in their pocket for studying, or an SME in the township can have access to a business mentor at no cost to the end-user and no hidden data cost because data is expensive and quality of coverage for streaming is limited.”

Prior to migrating to the cloud, the company faced a number of technological challenges. These included scaling, data security as well as not having a virtual machine service, and a low-cost storage system. The company also required an easy to manage and low-cost operating system which could lay the foundation for its data analytics and e-commerce capabilities.

“We required cloud products that catered for our specific requirements as a start-up, but which would give us the ability to scale considerably in serving a Fortune 500 company,” Jordan Nelson, CTO at TouchToLearn, points out.

The latest version incorporates world-class security measures.

As a start-up readying to scale, the AWS Activate programme provided training along with hands-on labs. This allowed us to evaluate the features and functionality of AWS services with no installation required. We also had access to global expertise through its networking service and ecosystem. As a result of AWS Support, which provides a mix of tools and technology, people and programmes designed to proactively help us optimise performance, lower costs and innovate faster, we have not incurred any additional costs to our own technology stack. The AWS promotional credit is also great in assisting companies set up their applications in the cloud.

TouchToLearn currently uses AWS’s Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). This web service provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud and is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers. Amazon EC2’s simple web service interface allows companies to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction and provides them with complete control of their computing resources.

The company is also looking into how it can benefit from the Elastic Beanstalk applications with CloudFront. This will enable it to deploy and scale web applications and services. CloudFront is a web service that speeds up distribution of your static and dynamic web content. After creating and deploying your Elastic Beanstalk application, you can sign up for CloudFront and start using it to distribute your content.

Edwin states: “Our services were deployed within five weeks on AWS and since then we have been able to increase our online infrastructure at a low cost, plus access multiple availability zones (these enable companies to place resources closer to end-users), which has provided ease of scalability plus unparalleled security. It has also meant a quick and seamless interaction within our environments with a 100% uptime.

“We have also improved our online speed and agility, which are important factors for us in being able to quickly develop and roll out new applications and product features.”

AWS, in partnership with ITWeb, will host a webinar on cloud technologies facilitating online learning on Thursday, 22 July. Buti Manamela, deputy minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, will deliver the keynote address.

Click here to register.