TSI works to change the way students learn technology with DigitalOcean

TSI website
“While servicing over 200 schools in the last few years, reliability and speed has been our top priority when it comes to hosting our online platforms. DigitalOcean allows us to seamlessly scale to adjust to our student base and provide each student with access to over 60 online apps designed to prepare them for a future in technology.”
Ross Cohen, Executive Director, Tech in Schools

Tech in Schools (TSI) is an education nonprofit that provides access to web tools and software for both students and teachers through curricula aligned to the common core that is run by experienced industry specialists. TSI came to DigitalOcean through our Hollie’s Hub for Good program, which provided them with cloud infrastructure credits and a cash grant as part of our DO Impact launch. TSI used App Platform to quickly and easily deploy their platform on DigitalOcean’s infrastructure to enable middle-school, high-school, and community college students to build web applications and tools as part of their learning.

Driving STEM education for young people

Ross Cohen started TSI after going back to his old high school to teach a free technology class as a volunteer. He found the computer education curriculum dated and that students were not engaged in the material. After testing multiple STEP approaches with his alma mater, he found different ways to engage students with technology. He then leveraged his technology background to launch TSI, and was one of a few out-of-school providers elected to incorporate the TSI curriculum into New York City Schools. Since then, TSI has worked with over 200 schools, reaching over 2,000 students around the world with interactive and engaging learning opportunities around STEM.

Now, TSI runs pilot programs in Connecticut colleges to empower students with all the resources they need to build online businesses and become entrepreneurs. TSI instructors use CPANEL to help students develop their online portfolio and applications or tools throughout an eight-week course. By the end of the course, each student has an internet portfolio, including AI-driven consumer apps. TSI also leverages its partner network to connect students to local businesses, tech companies, and others for internships and hands-on learning experiences.

“In most schools, you often notice students not paying attention by focusing on their cellphones. In TSI classes, students are taught how to build Augmented Reality (AR) on our DigitalOcean platform for no cost to them, and then use the AR applications on their own devices. We invite students to engage with the technology they know by building their skills to create new web applications and tools.” - Ross Cohen, Executive Director, Tech in Schools

TSI students

Leveraging the best of DigitalOcean

As TSI started to grow their programs, they saw increased usage and traffic as more and more students were using their platform to build applications, which led to downtime during critical periods. TSI started exploring multiple cloud providers to solve for this, and launched a DigitalOcean Droplet to test different server configurations. One of the requirements for their cloud provider was flexibility—TSI needed a provider who could scale up and down to match the changing needs of the program, in addition to security and reliability requirements.

TSI students use several DigitalOcean products, including Droplets and App Platform. One of TSI’s most popular AI Tutor apps is hosted on a DO Droplet, instead of Vercel or Railway, for stability and peace of mind. TSI students also use DigitalOcean’s App Platform as a convenient way to launch their React and NextJS web applications. This allows students to learn the modern CI/CD pipeline that’s prevalent in most development environments.

With DigitalOcean, TSI was able to achieve constant uptime, easy-to-restore backups, and unprecedented scalability. As of 2024, 90% of TSI online infrastructure resides on DigitalOcean, including over 60 web apps. Each student in the TSI program is also able to get their own virtual server hosted on DigitalOcean, enabling them to build their own online platforms.

TSI students using DO

Students at TSI are always learning about new technologies, including Generative AI, and using different coding languages such as Node and Next.js. While most services have limitations on traffic, build hours, and computation. DigitalOcean’s App Platform allows students to cultivate their apps without any roadblocks.

Using DigitalOcean’s platform, students have developed AI image generators, AI chat tools and Text to 3D applications. Because they don’t need to be experienced coders to use App Platform and other tools, students have found it easy to use and launch applications. Now, students have been able to built tools before getting into the workplace, and even use their applications built through TSI as a launching pad for future businesses—one student has built an AI realtor application to help brokers analyze listings, which they are now looking to turn into a business. By exposing TSI students to the latest technologies, young learners can work on the most relevant and innovative tools. And they can do it on DigitalOcean with ease.

Looking to the future

As TSI has built their expertise in teaching technology, they want to use this expertise to expand the number of teachers who teach the latest technology to young learners. They are working on a pilot with the New York Teachers Union to develop a new AI certification for Career Technical Education (CTE) for New York Public Schools. This will allow teachers to include AI as part of the technology curriculum for public school students in New York. TSI wants to continue this work by leveraging software tools to expand their curriculum across the world. With DigitalOcean as their partner, TSI can drive AI innovation for students who are often left behind in technology.

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