Follett Invests in Students and Teachers Through QA Automation
In an increasingly noisy world, educators are more challenged than ever to find creative ways to resonate and connect with their students. The response has sparked an educational paradigm shift: Traditional, standardized curriculum is being replaced by personalized learning methods that offer greater affordances for the varying needs of individual students.
This shift has been empowered, in part, by technology. Digital education tools help teachers free up administrative time and create higher student engagement with instruction and learning. Follett is the world’s largest provider of educational books, materials, and entertainment, and provides educational technology tools supporting more than 80,000 U.S. schools every day. Follett’s technology makes it easier for teachers to evaluate student performance—often in real time—and create adaptive personalized learning models that tailor support to students’ needs.
Leaders at Follett recognized that the continuous improvement of its educational technology was integral to the organization’s mission—helping educators drive success for students. To fully utilize its tools’ potential, Follett wanted to create a streamlined quality assurance (QA), testing, and continuous integration (CI) pipeline that would improve the quality of two of its education management products. Forte Group made it happen.
Two Follett products required outside quality control expertise. The first, Follett Aspen Student Information System, is an all-in-one system for hosting and managing secured student data such as class schedules, student performance, and health records. Aspen eliminates the need for multiple databases and streamlines the process of reporting and analyzing student data. The insights Aspen produces make it easier for educators and case managers to create instructional plans that are compliant with state-specific guidelines.
The second product, Destiny Discover, is a cloud-based tool that allows students and educators to search, share, and collaborate with print and digital educational resources. This library of educational material includes e-books, audiobooks, interactive books, and digital content that teachers and students can access and share from virtually anywhere through the Destiny Discover web or mobile app.
To modernize and improve both Aspen and Destiny Discover, Follett needed QA expertise to improve the flow of the data through automation and CI. To achieve flawless, consistent delivery and operation, both products required a QA and testing overhaul.
Follett’s existing automated tests were unstable and couldn’t scale with the organization. Manual testing was increasingly time-consuming and inefficient and therefore ruled out as a solution. Further exacerbating the problem, test results required a high degree of technical competency to access, making analysis difficult.
The organization needed outside help to build a comprehensive test automation framework that ensured both products met Follett’s high quality standards.
First, the Forte team set out to establish a seamless testing environment that would allow both applications to move toward continuous testing (CT). Work began with the following:
- Redesigned test automation framework: Generic code was refactored to match the UI of both products, enabling automated tests to run faster and more smoothly.
- Improved logging and reporting: Test results were only visible in a development environment, which limited access to test reports and constrained test execution. The QA team built a custom test log and a custom reporting extension which provided anyone on the team with an HTML-based report detailing test results.
- Stabilized test setup: The QA team stabilized the testing environment by migrating the test setup process to the database level. This improved data-load times, resulting in accelerated test performance and greater stability. Increased stability allowed for an increased testing load as both products scaled.
- Continuous integration implementation: With improved stability and speed, the QA team was able to move to the continuous integration of testing. The results of each test could then influence the next stage of code deployment.
- Scalable test execution: With a redesigned, improved test automation framework, the team was able to expand the number of tests it executed to multiple browsers and UI environments. As a result, the number of tests grew from 100 to more than 1000. The reporting from these tests provided analysts with a snapshot of product status across all platforms in less than an hour.
- Mobile and web testing optimization: With an improved continuous testing (CT) pipeline established, the QA team was able to optimize tests for web, mobile, and hybrid testing environments, establishing a scalable testing structure across multiple platforms.
With a streamlined, accelerated testing automation framework in place, Follett was able to continuously improve its delivery maturity and focus on the consistent, predictable delivery of quality features.
Follett is an example of how society and public institutions—not just businesses—can benefit from digital transformation. With a state-of-the-art QA structure in place for Destiny Discover and Aspen, Follett is empowered to focus on what matters: The continuous delivery of improved tools to educators and students. CT pipelines help organizations like Follett ensure that predictable delivery occurs at the highest quality, faster.
Along its journey from a used book store to a digitally transformed education technology company, Follett has maintained a rigid focus on delivering value to schools and educators. The data-driven services Follett provides educators are transforming how teachers teach and their students learn. That’s a strategy—and product—that’s built for the long haul.