Ashwin Rao is a Director at Limelight Networks and leads the company’s sales organization in India. He is a sales leader with more than 15 years of experience in helping companies find the right technology to solve their specific business challenges in areas such as digital media, cybersecurity, cloud platforms, AI, SaaS, DB and more. Before joining Limelight, Ashwin held key sales roles at Unbxd Inc., Akamai Technologies, Oracle and more. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Visvesvaraya Technological University and resides in Delhi.
Online learning, which has already replaced much of traditional classroom learning, is considered as the future of education by many. It is not hard to see why. Online learning offers a wide selection of courses, flexibility, accessibility, customized learning experience and most importantly, inclusivity, allowing students to pursue their academic interests anywhere and anytime. With technology becoming more widely available, the traffic on online education platforms is now more than ever before. However, to fulfil its revolutionary potential, online learning needs the right support – in the form of digital infrastructure.
Importance of the Right Digital Infrastructure
Although online learning is preferred for several reasons, as stated earlier, it comes with its own issues. A major one is to provide an enjoyable and hassle-free learning experience to all users. Besides other factors, the quality of online education depends on the user experience on e-learning websites and apps. However, students live in various locations, and they access online education platforms on different devices and under different network conditions. While providing smooth user experiences to all users is challenging, the e-learning platforms must overcome it. Frustrations happen quickly in the online world, especially while accessing content on mobile devices. According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, a second-long delay results in a 16% drop in user satisfaction. This was back in 2008, but if anything, expectations of an internet user more now. To ensure good user experience at all times, online education platforms need effective network infrastructure. This is when Content Delivery Networks (CDN) enter the picture
What are CDNs?
Content Delivery Networks are geographically distributed platform of servers, which are in charge of delivering web content to end-users. It minimizes the time between the user’s request to load a webpage and appearance of the page’s content on the screen. This gap is called website latency, which mostly depends on the distance between the website’s hosting servers and the end-user. With a CDN, the journey for content is speeded up significantly. The Limelight CDN, for instance, bypasses the internet, using its private fibre backbone, turning it into a more direct journey. Content is cached on edge servers located closer to where the user is located. So when a user heads to a website, for example, the edge server closest to him or her is the one that delivers the content. This allows the data to travel the shortest distance possible, reducing latency (delays) and speeding up page-load times.
Besides improving the website’s speed and performance, CDN handles large surges in traffic, reduces bandwidth consumption, the loads’ balance between multiple servers. It also secures websites and applications, blocking data scrappers and other forms or spammers. CDNs are essential to any businesses delivering large scale websites to a geographically dispersed audience.
How Can CDNs Aid Online Learning?
Online education platforms cater to users living in various locations, using different devices and accessing web content under different networks conditions. Moreover, they serve rich-media content in the form of live classes, video/audio lectures and various other resources to students. CDNs help platforms provide excellent user experience, enabling them to deliver rich-media content to users even under poor network conditions. Through repackaging media files into different delivery formats, they also ensure media playability on devices with limited capabilities.
With online learning on the rise, e-learning platforms continue to grow in popularity. A growing number of teachers and students are signing up every day to teach and learn at their convenience. To compete for attention and eventually for survival and growth, the e-learning platforms are striving to serve real-time, interactive and engaging content and ensure enjoyable learning experiences. This is why more and more platforms are turning to a CDN to deliver faster websites, more responsive applications, and satisfy a geographically dispersed user base. Now, online learning can truly be about accessibility and inclusivity – the way learning is supposed to be.