Online education system overloaded on first morning of school closures

eKool's website.
eKool's website. Source: ERR

The first day of online remote learning for all Estonian schoolchildren after schools across the country were closed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus was hampered by a system overload which caused it to fail on Monday morning. The problems should be fixed throughout the day, the authorities said.

The Stuudum e-kool (e-school) platform is running smoothly, but the eKool system experienced an overload as regular class time started Monday morning, and is adding resources. It is this addition of resources which caused the failure, eKool says.

"In fact, the usual pattern of using eKool has been that most ´users in the mornings are teachers; in the afternoons, students and parents in the afternoon," Tanel Keres, eKool AS CEO told ERR at 10 a.m. on Monday.

"However, this morning, everyone was on eKool," Keres said.

Keres said 8,000 new users were added to eKool last week, mostly students who had used eKool from their parents' account up to now. 

"We like this sort of user organization, but it means a lot higher load on the system," said Keres, adding that the system was down for around 20 minutes Monday morning to add the additional resources.

"Since it was time to get started [for school on the Monday morning], this was even more painful for our users. With eKool, we use separate servers for teachers, parents and students. First and foremost, we are increasing the resources needed for teachers, which has already been done.
We are now dealing with parents and students," Keres continued.

As the load continues to grow, Keres said the company is constantly adding more resources. 

"The situation will get easier when the load has stabilized, the number of users has reached the maximum. We are actively working on this," Keres said.

eKool is the largest web-based learning information environment in Estonia and was already in common use by many schools ahead of the current pandemic.

The Estonian government announced on Thursday evening all schools in Estonia would be closed from Monday, March 16 as the number and distribution of coronavirus cases in the country continued to grow.

All students are expected to continue their schooling from home via the online system. It is not known when schools will reopen and the measures will be reassessed every two weeks.

Several schools had closed their doors ahead of March 16, after pupils at schools in Tallinn, Saaremaa and Võru County were exposed to coronavirus.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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