The objective of our Software Maintenance Agreement is ensuring that clients have uninterrupted access to service & support, to cloud services (AI & server hosting), to updates driven by OS platforms, and to new capabilities provided for educators.
Authored by: Fabian Klein
Director of Teacher Support & Educational Technology
Creation date: 2019-08-19
Revision date: 2024-02-21
A System Perspective
We tend to think of SmartClass as a self-contained language teaching platform, but the reality is that it is deployed as part of a rather sophisticated technology environment that also includes workstations, servers, networks and the internet.
Additionally, IT professionals must guard their equipment against malicious or accidental attacks through a combination of firewalls, proxy servers, user and workstation access restrictions and avoidance of software applications that are perceived as providing a backdoor into a school's network.
Interoperability among system components and careful balancing of security and functionality is critical to the overall system operation. For example, if Microsoft makes a change to Windows, the entire system can grind to a halt.
Robotel proactively, (and in some cases reactively), makes changes to the SmartClass software to ensure uninterrupted operation with all major technology platforms.
This includes changes at the operating system level (Windows, OS-X, iOS, Chrome and Android), at the browser level, and at the networking level.
All software changes that we make in support of 3rd party technologies are made available to our clients through periodic new releases of the SmartClass software platform. These changes are provided only to clients having a valid Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA).
It is not uncommon for an educator whose system was working fine on Friday afternoon to encounter operational difficulties on Monday morning. Most educators are not technology experts, so they need access to help in troubleshooting the problem.
Robotel and its partners maintain a team of customer support personnel who can provide that help to teachers and IT staff via telephone, e-mail and/or remote screen sharing. Most issues are quickly identified and resolved.
Customer support is provided to clients having a valid SMA. We will not refuse support to a client whose SMA has lapsed, however, priority is always given to those clients who have paid to keep their SMA active.
Cloud Based Utilities
One of the trends in technology is the migration from self-hosted applications on school servers to cloud-hosted applications on 3rd party servers. Robotel has offered the option of cloud-hosting the SmartClass database since 2017.
To support cloud hosting, Robotel uses Google-owned servers. A fee is paid annually to have access to these servers.
Similarly, as Artificial Intelligence gains traction in educational applications, Robotel takes advantage of AI-based speech-to-text and text-to-speech engines to implement auto-graded pronunciation activities. We also anticipate that additional AI services will be used for planned functional updates like auto-graded dictation activities.
Again, an annual fee is paid to AI service providers like Google, IBM/Watson and iSpeech.
The SMA fees we collect are used to cover the cost of these cloud-based utilities. For clients who allow their SMA to lapse, Robotel reserves the right to block access to these fee-based cloud services.
New Capabilities for Educators
Of course, all software developers endeavour to introduce the perfect application that never needs to change, but in reality, the rapid evolution of technology in our era is continually introducing opportunities to simplify system operation, improve system performance and enhance the functionality of our applications to improve their didactic capabilities.
These enhancements are provided to our clients through a series of new SmartClass releases. Typically, Robotel provides at least two new releases per year and introduces major functional changes at least once every two years.
New releases are provided to clients with a valid Software Maintenance Agreement.
SmartClass Updates on Installed Versions
Flexible installation of LTE Libraries.
Sharing of LTE Activities within the school. LTE activities are now available to share using the "Local Shared Documents" function of the Create Activities section.
Much faster Opening/Closing of Media Files and/or Activities. For example, when it was taking up to 6 seconds for the teacher to open (or close) an Activity for Review, it now takes less than 2 seconds.
The teacher can now delete in one operation ALL the activities that are inside the selected Folder.
In Live Chat, the teacher can now send clickable URL links, that students can open directly. No need for copy and paste.
The student LIVE Panel with Chat open can now be Minimized/Restored by the student.
Higher-quality 22KHz Audio Broadcasting in LIVE class. (this OPTIONAL setting can work ONLY in LIVE Classes that are using the Student Native Windows LIVE app and are running on high-performance, low-latency wired networks).
Faster student-to-student switching when the teacher is Monitoring individual student screens.
With version 6.10, we unified the different versions 6.0 to 6.04, as well as our WEB version.It also brings MAC OS version 6.10 up to date with grade report compatibility and installable PKG files.
|Our Windows-operating teacher and student apps are out, along with Web Manager and BYOD Manager.
|The Panel "Waiting for Teacher Command" will not show on top of the Student AIR or AIR Plus LIVE app, after rebooting the computer
AIR/AIR Plus Windows students have a new version for Students with Fixed IP. The student stations will be detected by Teacher LIVE with the IP in place of the PC Name. Ask firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
|Version 5.60 fixes:
|AIR/AIR+ Student: The "Populate Class" panel is no longer hidden by an overlapping button in Student LIVE.
|Version 5.59 fixes:
|Teacher HUB: Usernames created with Capital letters in older versions can now be duplicated in new classes. All uppercase letters for usernames are set to lowercase.
Student: The "Submit My Work" button is not hidden by the timer.
|Version 5.58 fixes:
|Teacher LIVE: Sound share from the Teacher's PC to student's PC, is clear, not choppy.
|Version 5.56 fixes:
|Teacher HUB: List for Activities, Folders, and Students will display normally, not all stacked at the top.
Student LIVE: Students LIVE reconnects faster to Teacher LIVE, after disconnection (network, log OFF, PC power down...).
Because the SmartClass language teaching platform is a sophisticated application used within an even more sophisticated technological tapestry, it is a highly dynamic solution that changes frequently to maintain interoperability with other 3rd party system components and to provide continuous improvement of capabilities for educators.
And, of course, we employ a staff of professional customer support personnel who can help our clients diagnose and correct system-related problems that impact smooth operations.
To finance continual support and to cover annual usage fees for operational cloud services, Robotel provides clients with a renewable Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA).
Ultimately, the SMA is our vehicle for providing uninterrupted access to service & support, to cloud services (AI & server hosting), to updates driven by OS platforms, and to new capabilities provided for educators.
To borrow a phrase from the automotive industry, seat belts are no longer an "option". For SmartClass, the same is true for a Software Maintenance Agreement.
Contact us if you would like more information.