What is the problem?

Part of the World Health Organization’s guidance on limiting further spread of COVID-19 is to practice social distancing. As a result, schools in most affected areas are taking precautionary measures by closing their facilities. With school-aged children at home for an indeterminate amount of time, parents and educators recognize the vital need to keep them engaged, entertained, and up to date with their education.

How can technology help?

Schools and teachers can continue to engage with their students through virtual classrooms, and even create interactive spaces for classes. As parents face a new situation where they may need to homeschool their children, finding appropriate online resources is important as well.

The idea

It’s imperative that learning and creating can continue when educational institutions have to shift the way they teach in times of crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Providing a set of open source tools, backed by IBM Cloud and Watson Services, will enable educators to more easily make content available for their students.

The architecture

    1. The user navigates to the site.
    2. The user is presented with a website, a React front end.
      1. The user performs an action within the Express app.
      2. The LoopBack-generated code performs the necessary task within the Express app.
    3. Changes are saved in a PluggableDB.
    1. The user navigates to the site and uploads a video file.
    2. Watson Speech to Text processes the audio and extracts the text.
    3. Watson Translation (optionally) can translate the text to the desired language.
    4. The app stores the translated text as a document within Object Storage.


Following are a set of resources developers can build on to enhance remote education during times of social distancing. This starter kit includes three components:

Create a quiz app to assess online learning

Learn how to build a simple example quiz application that uses a LoopBack-generated Express app with a React front end.

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Build a video transcriber service

Learn how to create a sample Python app that can extract text from instructional videos using Watson Speech to Text. This functionality will allow instructors to provide notes to students who are using video and audio tools as their primary way to learn.

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Set up a Skills Network platform

Learn how to build a highly configurable, robust virtual classroom environment for instructors that enables course development, virtual assistant help, live classrooms, and more.

Estimated time: 30 minutes