Education in Indonesia has always been an interesting subject as I believe that progress in education allows advances within Indonesia’s socioeconomic factor. Having worked in Education sector for more than 2 years in AWS Indonesia, I want to share my knowledge and experience about Indonesia’s education landscape & technology.
Indonesia is a home to more than 270 millions people spread across 17,000 islands making it 4th most populous country. As per 2022 IMF data, Indonesia is still in 5th rank for GDP per capita with poverty rate still in 10% in 2022. That rate is average for Southeast Asia countries but in day to day situation, we can see poverty is still so rampant. These statistics show big socioeconomic gap and income equality issues in such populous country. Education is an important tool to equalize this socioeconomic situation.
Cloud technology is expected to opens up wider access to education for all layers of citizen. In Indonesia AWS Cloud is widely adopted in various education sectors. In this blog you will see how Indonesian education sectors adopt AWS Cloud technology to support digital transformation in education thus enabling access to more students. There are several sectors of Education in Indonesia covered by AWS Cloud including Education ministry and offices, Higher education & K12 institutions, and also Education Technology (Edtech) startups.
Technology has been an integral part for government to provide public services to the citizens. Regional education offices annually organize PPDB (Penerimaan Peserta Didik Baru) or freshman registration for public high schools and vocational schools. PPDB used to be organized offline but it is now digitalized into online web application. This online format serves to sort out school registration systemically and objectively thus increasing the quality of education service and equality in competitiveness. In highly populated regions, PPDB needs to handle a burst of up to hundreds thousands students accessing the system at the same time. These students are racing to secure a place in their favorite high schools. If the PPDB system goes down during this time, it will spark mass outcry from students and parents. Hosting PPDB application in AWS has helped regional education office to smoothly handle concurrent access of thousands of students. One example of regional education office which uses AWS to host online PPDB is West Java Education Office (Dinas Pendidikan Jawa Barat). West Java Education Office handles more than 1.8 millions students in 2022 and 2023.
AWS Cloud’s high capacity of servers combined with containerization technology such as Amazon EKS (Managed Kubernetes Service) tackle concurrent access with no sweat. Students also often upload static content such as education certificate and identity photos. These static content uploads are handled well using Amazon Cloudfront as the Content Delivery Network and stored securely and efficiently in the cost-optimized object storage such as Amazon S3. Finally, security is important since this app is public-facing and accessed by millions of people. There is AWS WAF (Web Application Firewall) that helps to secure this application from potential DDoS L7 attack.
Higher Education directorate in Ministry of Education Indonesia uses AWS Cloud to host nation-wide learning management system (LMS) app. This LMS is an online learning hub for educational content which are open to learners across all Indonesia. The idea was first born in pandemic times. AWS Cloud’s autoscaling feature and high instance capacity helps to scale this application.
AWS Cloud is used not only to support public services but also used to deploy internal learning management system (LMS). Usually this internal LMS is used by training & development center within the ministries to support online learning programs for civil servants. One example of this is BPPTIK (Balai Pelatihan dan Pengembangan Teknologi Informasi dan Komunikasi) Kominfo who migrated its Moodle-based LMS on AWS Cloud to gain reliability and flexibility thus creating a seamless learning experience for its civil servants. We will discuss more about how AWS handle Moodle-based LMS in the next section.
Adoption of digital transformation in Higher Education is stronger in average compared to K12 institutions. There are several challenges in technology adoption for Indonesia’s K12.
- 1) Student: Online learning is not effective to be conducted in Primary school since young learners still need closer learning supervision from guardians and usually parents are not always prepared for this close supervision, so offline learning in school is still prepared.
- 2) Educator: Educators in Junior, Senior high schools, and vocational schools are specialized in their subject and strong in guiding students in their study. However, digital literacy is still a challenge especially literacy in Cloud.
- 3) Finance: Majority of K12 & vocational schools have relatively limited budget compared to university. This makes procuring sufficient Cloud technologies for learning purpose to be difficult.
With all these challenges, K12 & vocational institutions prefer to get support from Edtech such as Simak.online or Sekolah.mu to support their digital learning initiative. Given such landscape, there is still a number of K12 schools adopting AWS for their school websites. Amazon Lightsail is perfect for such cases. Lightsail is a Virtual Private Server with predictable monthly pricing package. They are easily adoptable, user-friendly, and still flexible. User can find a package suited for their needs and once they are ready, they can upgrade to small-size Amazon EC2 to gain better performance while still maintaining efficient cost. If static content (images, videos) delivery performance is needed, Amazon Cloudfront’s free tier which provides up to 1TB complimentary egress bandwidth.
Higher Education institutions have more rooms in adopting technology and Cloud. They have higher financial budgets and people readiness. University students are mature enough to be independent in their learning, educators are knowledgeable to adopt Cloud, and there are IT division to support IT infrastructure needs within universities. Among the different needs of digital applications within universities, LMS is still the most popular one especially during Covid19 pandemic. The need for LMS during pandemic spiked up drastically in such a short time. Unfortunately this sudden need could not be met in time by procuring hardware as such procurement requires capacity planning, tender process, and lead time for hardware arrival + setup. This made universities turned into Cloud technologies for support. The most popular open-source LMS platform used in Indonesian universities is Moodle.
One reason for Moodle’s popularity is that it is based on LAMP stack with PHP as the main language used. PHP itself is common to use in Indonesia especially in Higher Education institutions. AWS Infrastructure fully supports Moodle deployment. Moodle can be easily deployed within few clicks from application package publishers such as Bitnami available in AWS Marketplace or it can also be deployed in fully-scalable mode. In scalable version, Moodle can adopt a number of AWS services to support availability & scalability. AWS Auto-scaling feature helps to easily scale against load spikes, Amazon Aurora helps scale database against thousands of concurrent connections, Amazon EFS and Elasticache help to scale shared storage & caching, and finally Cloudfront can be used to deliver static content with low latency. To speed up deployment of this scalable mode, AWS also provides readily-deployable infrastructure found in this github repository.
More samples including Moodle with container adoption can be found in AWS Samples Repository. It is common to see other other operational applications in university such as Academic System Information (Siakad), Digital Library, Tax & Financing, etc. These applications are usually deployed as web application which is fitting to be hosted in AWS using either scalable web app deployment method or single-server monolithic method.
Disaster Recovery (DR)/Backup/Archival System is another popular use case among Indonesia universities. Power and electricity in Indonesia is often unstable in areas outside of Java. Universities hosting their workloads on-premise want to anticipate this outage and ensure stability of their application thus they are looking at AWS Cloud for DR and Backup System. AWS Cloud has redundant power and data center zones, making it fault-resistant in nature. Backup applications in Cloud can also be set at smaller scale to minimize DR cost. More often than not, these universities end up migrating their applications fully on Cloud once they are ready to upgrade. Archival System is favorable for universities who want to keep their student certificates so that they are ready to be re-issued if students ever lose them. AWS offer S3 Glacier for archival storage system with ridiculously low cost of $0.002/GB or Rp 30.00/GB.
Lastly, universities commonly conduct research on the latest technology such as AI/ML, Big Data, High Performance Computing, or Quantum Computing. These technologies usually require the latest modern hardware which is expensive to purchase for exploratory purposes. AWS provides the infrastructure for these technologies ready for universities to implement and explore for research & development. In fact, IMERI (Indonesian Medical Education & Research Institute) hosts their Big Data Computing Platform on AWS, ready for big data researchers to perform big data calculation.
Edtech startup is a startup which provides technology-integrated services to improve education experience for both learners & educators. Edtech in Indonesia have been growing steadily in the past 8 years. According to World Bank report, Internet penetration rates for online learning grew from 15% to 40% from 2014 to 2018. This online learning growth was boosted even further during pandemic (source). Zenius, an edtech startup offering MooC and online classes, experienced YoY increase in user base up to twelve-fold in Q2 2022.
LMS, MooC, and Student Academic Information System are top 3 most common products in Indonesian Edtech. Some Edtech startups like Sekolah.mu and Simak.online focus their products more on K12 and some other like Sevima focus on university. These products are usually web application developed independently using PHP or NodeJS. AWS scalability & management allow these Edtech to scale application to millions of user base with minimum operational management. This is perfect for startup whose team size is still small.
Sekolah.mu is a perfect example of this as they handled 2.5 millions user base with only 6 team members in 2020. They leverage various AWS managed services such as Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS), AWS Fargate, RDS, and Amazon Elasticache to minimize effort for infrastructure management. Sekolah.mu takes this up even further in 2023 by scaling up to 11 millions user base and secure their infrastructure with AWS security services such as GuardDuty for threat detection, WAF for L7 DDoS protection, and SecurityHub for security evaluation. Security gets extremely important as you scale out your public-facing application since the number of cybersecurity threats also grows along with it.
Sevima is another Indonesian Edtech but it focuses more on university-centric applications such as SiakadCloud for Academic Information System, Edlink for Learning Management System, SevimaPay for payment aggregator, and Karirlink for career hub.
With AWS, Sevima handled 10x surge of users during pandemic and achieved near-zero downtime with 700 universities they are working with. To handle large user database and storage, Sevima uses Amazon RDS and S3. Sevima also saved 30% in total cost of ownership. To optimize cost and computing capacity, Sevima looks into integrating Kubernetes with Amazon EKS. Sevima’s tight integration of its services with AWS Cloud has also earned them “AWS ISV Qualified” status.
Educational contents are often offered by Edtech startups in video format to facilitate an immersive learning experience. Hosting video streaming content has its own challenges such as transcoding video, delivering smooth streaming, and securing exclusive premium content. AWS has a family of media processing services called Elemental. AWS user can transcode videos into different bitrate to cater for a variety of internet speed that end-user has. This technology is called Adaptive Bit Rate. To stream video, Cloudfront offers RTMP (Real Time Messaging Protocol) feature for smooth stream delivery. AWS also works with DRM providers who provide DRM licenses to protect premium video content from illegally downloaded.
Edtech startups like AWS serverless services since they can lessen the burden of managing servers. Serverless services pricing are usually measured by number of usage eg. per requests, per API calls, per image scan, per document scan, etc. making them cost efficient for small to medium usage. This is perfect for budding Edtech startups who are still discovering their market and handling relatively low usage with occasional burst of request spike. When the startup grows larger and they need a more customized application, they can start adopting server-based infrastructure. Popular AWS serverless services for Edtech startups are:
- Amazon Cognito allows customer to create end-user database and authentication function.
- Amazon SQS is a queue service which allows customer to create decoupled microservices.
- Amazon SNS is a managed messaging service to send alerts or notifications to user in form or SMS, email, or HTTPS endpoint
- AWS Lambda is a function-as-a-service where developers can deploy code in their favorite language without managing servers.
- AWS Amplify is a set of tools to accelerate development of full-stack framework. With AWS Amplify, customers can develop React, Angular, or Next.js application and quickly deploy it using AWS serverless services with minimal cost.
We can see above how AWS Cloud helps various education sectors. Unique selections of AWS services integrate well with diverse education products & needs. AWS scalability, reliability, and cost-efficiency help to democratize access to education by providing affordable education platform to all layers of learners & educators in Indonesia. If you have questions or concerns about how AWS Cloud can help your institution, you can post a response or reach out to me. If you like this post, do give a clap 😉.