Cengage Learning - Digital Learning Platform

Cengage Learning - Digital Learning Platform

Quoin provided engineering leadership and multiple project teams for the MindTap digital learning platform. Our long-term collaboration delivered specialized applications and facilitated the adoption of agile development at Cengage Learning.

Cengage Learning - Digital Learning Platform

Quoin provided engineering leadership and multiple project teams for the MindTap digital learning platform. Our long-term collaboration delivered specialized applications and facilitated the adoption of agile development at Cengage Learning.

Cengage Learning is a leading global education technology provider for the higher education, K-12, workforce and library markets. As an innovator in digital learning, the company created the MindTap platform for delivering multimedia, interactive, and customizable online courses. The system offers educators and students access to the breadth of Cengage educational content, adaptive learning paths, and practical tools for authoring and learning.

MindTap Projects

Quoin partnered with Cengage to provide technical leadership and effective application development teams over a three-year engagement. Specific efforts in support of these initiatives included the following.

  • Initial Platform Architecture – Quoin supported the initial development of the MindTap platform. Our principal consultant was integral to defining the platform architecture and implementing the initial release. Quoin therefore contributed to conception of the fundamental architecture, services, integration, and content conversion for this strategic initiative. We also supported product development teams with coaching in test-driven and agile development practices.
  • Architecture Standards & Practices – After the initial commercial release of MindTap, we provided a principal consultant to guide Quoin and client-led project teams. Our consulting focused on the design and implementation of critical integration points in the maturing platform architecture, and was instrumental in maintaining code quality and consistency of the system architecture.
  • Speech Outlining Tool – A Quoin project team built an app to help students create outlines, note cards, visual references, and other matierals to give a speech. This 'MindApp' was the first to use a new technology stack that included AngularJS and Node. Our project team delivered on time and on budget after an intensive three-month development effort.
  • Composition Outlining Tool – We continued the effort above to deliver a similar app for composition. Our team demonstrated the flexibility of the design and implementation practices from the earlier project. Both efforts were recognized by Cengage management for our agile development practices, and were used as examples for process improvement at Cengage.
  • World Languages – Quoin developed a replacement for a third-party application to provide improved language learning capabilities and integration with the MindTap platform.
  • Instructor Resource Center – We built an app that enables an author to easily add content as reading material, interactive exercise, or graded assignment to a course. This project required conversion of the app to ReactJS to address performance issues, integration with a new plugin architecture, and support for MindTap platform services.
  • 4LTR – We defined the application architecture and led the implementation of a new multimedia content and assignments editor. This speicalized application integrated with MindTap service and a component of the overall system.
  • Product Builder – A Quoin project team developed a suite of course authoring tools that supported the assembly of multimedia content for interactive courses.

For each application, Quoin was responsible for application architecture, design, code quality, implementation, platform integration, testing, and delivery. Our project team collaborated with Cengage architecture and product management stakeholders to ensure timely delivery of the application for key product release milestones.

Platform Architecture

The figure below depicts the architecture for MindTap. The architecture is designed to support rapid development of fast, scalable network applications for the JavaScript delivery stack. The system is based on a collection of MindApps that implement end-user capabilities supported by a service layer and underlying content management layer. This tiered architecture is implemented primarily in JavaScript, Java, and supporting technologies. More than three dozen applications comprise the entire system used by content authors, instructors, students, and administrators.

MindTap Architecture

  • MindApps – Applications for creating, building, or accessing content. MindApps are implemented in JavaScript using AngularJS, ReactJS, and Redux frameworks. An application will generally depend on MindTap services, but for specific requirements can also interact directly with content management services or specific databases.
  • Specialized Applications – Applications that integrate with MindTap and Content Management services outside of the plug-in architecture for MindApps. These applications are implemented in a broad range of technologies, but most are built in JavaScript.
  • MindTap Services – Common services for creating, finding, accessing, or storing content; and, for learning management. The services are implemented in Java for both plug-in and standard applications.
  • Content Management – Persistent storage for rich content and platform-specific data, including students, grades, and courses. This layer was implemented using both No-SQL and relational technologies including Node, MongoDB, ElasticSearch, Cassandra, and others.