When International Technological University’s CTO Kranthi Lammatha was a boy in the Indian farming village of Kasipuram, he would walk nine miles to get to school every day and another nine miles to get back home in the evening. Despite the fact that it was the early 1990s, the village, which was comprised of about 35 families at that time, had no school bus or even electricity for that matter. However, Kranthi loved his school and was fascinated with education itself.
When he was 21, he came to America to further his education and quickly earned two Masters of Science degrees – the first in Computer Science and the second in Software Engineering. Along the way, his interest in the mechanics of the education system deepened, particularly around the difficulties both students and staff encounter due to bureaucratic delays and complications.
Looking to Solve Problems
In 2010, Kranthi was hired as a full-time software engineer by International Technological University (ITU), the Silicon Valley industry-oriented school where he had earned his second MS degree. Thrilled to be working within the university system, he became immersed in the back-end of education, managing and streamlining the ways student and curriculum data got integrated into the existing applications. He gained valuable insight into the difficulties facing the communication between third party systems and also on the accreditation process for universities themselves. Kranthi saw an opportunity to create a cloud-based system that would reduce the complexity of the admissions process into one streamlined interface.
The Solution Uncovered
In 2013, ITU funded Kranthi’s proposal for what is now known as the Education Management System (EMS). Currently in use by ITU, EMS provides a central portal for students to view course information, submit assignments, and participate in course discussions. EMS also allows faculty to interact with students, and integrates curriculum development with class content. Any brick and mortar school can use EMS to offer online courses. On the administrative end, the cloud-based system centrally stores student data in one place, making for seamless communication between institutions. The software generates instant dynamic reports, such as financial revenue, gender ratio, and more. Everything from coursework and grades to tuition are tracked, and updates are instantaneously accessible, which keeps data consistent and cuts down on the need for human interaction. The days of waiting weeks for transcripts are over.
The Application Process and Integration technology allows EMS to connect with 16 other systems currently in use by other universities, and it has the capability to become compatible with more systems in the near future. It also connects to the systems used by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), and can therefore access the documentation needed by international students to study in the US as mandated by Homeland Security, like the I-20 form.
Success and Sustainability
While there is software similar to EMS already in use, Kranthi and his international team of 16 software engineers take pride in providing a system that is more comprehensive than its competitors (such as Blackboard, Oracle’s Peoplesoft, and Workday) and also far more affordable, making it accessible to small and mid-sized universities. Once smaller and non-profit schools gain access to a program like EMS, it can make it easier for them to gain accreditation from institutes like the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The world-wide educational ramifications of schools accessing EMS can’t be underestimated. Once a smaller, more low-budget school gains accreditation, it can provide more affordable tuition to a wide range of students. EMS also facilitates accessibility to online classes, making it easier for lower income and international students to gain education and degrees via schools using the system.
With ITU as its incubator, EMS is homegrown and developed within a university by university staff, as opposed to software from the large profit-driven companies. Who better to know the needs of students, teachers, and staff than a university? And who better to understand the world’s need for access to education than Kranthi – one who traveled so far to get it?