Project Pals

Taking a ground-breaking idea in the field of education and making it a reality

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The Product

Project Pals is an innovative web-based project creation environment for students in the fourth grade through college. Students working in teams collaborate on projects in real time, using a methodical approach to solving problems.

The primary objective of Project Pals is to inspire students and equip them with the capabilities to approach challenges methodically and to solve problems as a team.

Project Pals is comprised of four phases of project analysis, with a set of composition tools for marking, annotating, and interconnecting the project elements. Students then transform their collaborative efforts into reports, diagrams and presentations.

Project Pals also features administrative tools for teachers to follow projects, edit, comment and conduct project analysis.

The Challenge

“The starting requirement of the Project Pals project was to build a collaborative framework for an educational project, a system that enables simultaneous ongoing work by a number of participants who deposit visualized information on the same document,” says Dan, the project manager.

“But this system is much more: We had to enable and then show a visual representation of the work done by the different participants, as well as visualize the relationship between the various components and events; to save and display all changes by participants and to build a collaborative task management framework.

“In effect what was required was to construct dynamic mind and relationship maps that enable students to organize the data visually, and to use a relatively large number of analytic problem-solving and collaborative tools, with highly sophisticated visualization of these tools and their results.”

“Another major challenge was the wide range of age and student capabilities we needed to aim for: elementary school through university students,” adds Dan.

“We decided the way to approach the project would be in increments, using an agile approach: we characterized successive features, executing each feature, viewing the result at the feature and system level, and continuing to the next feature. Interestingly enough, Project Pals itself applies the agile methodology to its own collaborative problem solving.”

‘I am a great fan of Israeli talent and I keep seeing it everywhere I go, and Spectory is clearly one of the best of them’

Technology

“As developers, we had to construct a system architecture that would maintain a consistent view of the work board by all participants, and update it in real-time with any changes executed by the team members,” says Yariv, a project developer.

“We had to create a dynamic white board that will be identical over different screen formats, tablets and smart phones, and enable conversion to various formats (such as PDF, print and picture files).

“The Project scope included characterization, UX and UI design, and execution using Web, D3 and Ruby on Rails, angular for UI and collaboration through sockets,” Yariv continues.

“We decided to use SVG technology and create a virtual DOM as a data model for managing the elements within the SVG. We used a data visualization D3 JavaScript library to create SVG map visualizations, which, combined with Angular JS, enabled us to create a fully interactive experience for users of the white board.

“We also deployed a force-directed physical simulation engine on the client side to generate a visual array of elements linked through connections and constraints defined by the student.”

What the Customer Says

“After some sour experiences with offshore developers, I decided to use highly qualified companies either in the US or Israel,” says Miriam Bogler, founder and CEO of Project Pals, Inc.

“I was encouraged by my advisors to choose a local (US) company because they believed face-to-face communication was very important for the project to succeed.

“I turned to a company in Los Angeles, in Oakland, California, and to Spectory in Israel. I voted for proximity and the company in Oakland was the winner. It took me two weeks to realize they had no clue how to go about developing my application and decided to try Spectory, which impressed me in our initial meeting. I decided that in this day and age communication should not be an obstacle.

“I am a great fan of Israeli talent and I keep seeing it everywhere I go, and Spectory is clearly one of the best of them. The combination of talent, creativity and professional expertise has been evident from the beginning of my engagement with them,” Bogler continues.

“My Spectory developers immediately demonstrated how capable they are in understanding the problem at hand, and they did it quickly. Their dedication and care in producing the best product possible is amazing. They are very capable in delivering products on time, are highly responsive, and it’s clear that they want to make every effort to make this product a success and make me happy.

“For the first time, I’m enjoying peace of mind, knowing that I am in really good hands,” Bogler concludes.

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