Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH), one of Indonesia’s first universities to teach their programs entirely in English, had a carefully prepared plan to digitally transform their institution. They would be using the open-source Learning Management System (LMS) Moodle to track courses & assignments, offer professional productivity applications for their students and faculty as well as provide enhanced security features for their network.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit Indonesia, prompting many educational institutions to begin study from home protocols.
“We suddenly had a one-year roadmap that had to be squeezed into a month and must be ready within a week,” said Firman Rusli, Chief Technology Officer, Universitas Pelita Harapan. “We needed a quick stop gap solution before we can get the main service online to support all stakeholders as well as help optimize costs.”
Located in multiple cities across the archipelago with tens of thousands of students, lecturers administrative personnel, UPH had to speed up their technology expansion with a centralized solution that offered one-stop-service applications that also prioritized security. It must also integrate to their existing email and productivity platforms as well as offer user and network authentication.
Already using Microsoft Office 365 for productivity and email services, UPH elected to add Microsoft solutions to its infrastructure, incorporating Microsoft Teams to offer online classes and video conferencing services, OneDrive service for cloud storage, Sharepoint for digital workspaces, as well as the Azure Active Directory for user authentication.
The system was implemented within a very quick timeframe and was ready to use without worrying about potential compatibility issues. In addition, the Azure Infrastructure hosted the university’s LMS solution that must be able to scale up to thousands of concurrent connections. With Azure, the university can easily manage server capacity on demand, expanding server capacity during peak season, and turning some off during lower usage periods.
“Choosing Microsoft was an easy decision as their solutions were scalable and affordable depending on necessity. We can invest in Azure and others as needed, helping us to balance costs. This is much better than hosting our own servers and hardware as cloud technology allows us a redundant offsite backup solution as well,” says Firman Rusli.
The university managed to get everyone on to the system and is continuing to invest in its development by using the data collected. By using the analytics built in the system, the UPH IT team can see what areas need improvement and what solutions needed to scale up. The team is also improving the overall system, automating a number of tasks that make it easier for its students and faculty members to use the tool for education. For example, once a student registers for a class, they are automatically put into specific Microsoft Teams chat rooms for that course.
The UPH IT team is also in charge for the digital transformation of Pelita Harapan’s other schools, namely the 13 Dian Harapan schools and 26 Lentera Harapan schools. Students there face the same challenges university students do, namely a diversity of computer devices and low internet quota. Thus, the IT team must ensure the system and network is accessible to a wide range of audience.
“Our job is by no means complete. We will continue to upgrade and maintain the systems to ensure our users get the best experience in this new normal. We have data that can help improve the virtual learning and will constantly enhance the productivity of our stakeholders,” said Firman Rusli.
“During this COVID-19 pandemic, many education institutions needed to quickly move online for their students, teachers and administrators. We are proud to be help UPH with our education solutions as it will allow them to not only deliver lessons online but also to share information and data to measure its effectiveness and efficiency,” said Benny Kusuma, Microsoft Indonesia Education Lead.