HSCOne is a website designed to make higher level educational content accessible to students in remote parts of New South Wales and the ACT, while maintaining the quality expected of teachers in more populated areas.
Accessible educational materials
November 13, 2021
Develop an accessible (i.e. a11y) method of instruction for students undertaking the HSC in rural NSW/ACT while maintaining the quality and production level of popular textbooks for the same subjects.
HSCOne runs on a distributed K8s system with over 50 points of presence in Australia. My partnership with Arc.IO allows the project to process large traffic spikes (such as during exam periods) without losing performance, while partnerships with Netlify, Statically, and Cloudflare allow the site to use cutting-edge optimisation techniques, making the site feasible to use in communities where low-bandwidth (i.e. >1Mbps download) network connections are the norm. Additionally, the use of Markdown post-processors means that screen-readers and other accessibility systems are easily able to parse the site's contents (100/100 accessibility score on Lighthouse, no WAVE errors), making the site one of the most accessible resources for blind and dyslexic students.
HSCOne (formerly Schoolnotes Portal) is a free and publicly contributable platform where year 11 and 12 students can access and share notes and resources. This project was originally built as a method of consolidating my notes from high school classes, but quickly gained traction within my year group at school, and by extension the executive team. Within a few months, the first version of the site had a complete set of resources for 3 different subjects, as well as a small team of writers and editors who frequently updated, clarified, and moderated content.
Since 2019, the site has had over a million pageviews, averaging around 80 thousand pageviews a day. As with any educational site, however, major traffic spikes occur in the days and hours preceding major exams, such as Year 11 Preliminaries, Year 12 Trials, and the HSC itself. In 2020, the site experienced over 100 thousand pageviews the day before the english HSC paper, with over 30 thousand unique visitors. As around 75 thousand people sat the HSC in 2021, our first project report estimated that around 25% of the 2021 HSC cohort used the site to aid them in their English HSC exams. Additionally, over 60% of the Physics HSC class of 2021, and over 55% of the Chemistry HSC class of 2021 were users of the site around the time of the HSC exams.
While the site has significant user traffic, and users tend to use the site for extended periods of time (average visit duration is 55m26s as of 10/May/2022), the purpose of the site is to provide these resources as freely as I can. As such, advertising revenue is kept to a minimum, and is completely removed around the time of major exam periods so as not to disrupt the workflow of students. I believe that this focus of user experience over profit is one of the primary drivers of this project’s success.