Case Study – Educators Want High Performance Not Just From Students, but from Websites Too

Teaching Channel is a video showcase—providing content on the web and television—of inspiring and effective teaching practices in America’s public schools. This new national non-profit will elevate and celebrate great teaching so that others can learn by example and share their own experiences.  Before going live, the web team has taken some very specific steps to ensure a seamless online experience for its users, so that teachers can get value from the site quickly and easily.  For teachers, time is a precious thing. 

Teaching Channel programming is targeted to America’s three million K-12 educators, as well as to the general public. Documentary-style videos shot in the classroom will connect viewers to teachers’ struggles and successes. Nothing will be staged or rehearsed. These videos will show real classrooms with real teachers. Teaching Channel programming will offer an intimate front-row seat in the classroom through the use of broadcast-quality video, great storytelling and high-fidelity sound. Teaching Channel’s website will enable teachers to download and share videos and supporting lesson plans. The service will help them stay on top of ‘need to know’ news in education. Teachers will find Teaching Channel a valuable source of support in extending their professional skills, thereby improving and sometimes transforming outcomes for students.

Pay Attention To The Technology Behind The Curtain

Behind the cameras, Teaching Channel is a ruby on rails environment, leveraging a mix of cloud based serving capacities and their own infrastructure. Demian Entrekin, Chief Technology Officer at The Teaching Channel (formerly of Innotas) says, “The value of using cloud computing is to be agile and quick.  But you also want to control your destiny, making sure you’re up when you want to be up.  Teaching Channel is a high performance website that, like any website, has a goal of 100% up time.” Demian believes it’s very important for his team and him to understand the site’s behavior and where performance problems are before the customers do. Teaching Channel is not a technology organization, but through the smart use of technology, their goal is for every one of their users have a terrific online experience.


Users, Not Robots

In Demian’s mind, there was no question of whether to get an app performance management solution–it was more a matter of which approach would best fit Teaching Channels’ needs. So why did Demian and  Teaching Channel choose New Relic?  Demian wanted a tool with data that was independent, unbiased and accurate. He also was looking for a web-based solution that would eliminate the hassles of dealing with implementation and hardware. New Relic met all these criteria and more. Real User Monitoring (RUM), was a major plus. New Relic’s RUM provides his team with information about “the end users experience, not a robot’s.”  It is one thing to know that a robot in Utah was able to hit your site; it’s absolutely critical to know that real users in Utah are able to access and load content within acceptable performance thresholds. And not only was New Relic easy to get up and running, but also no one else offered the same depth of service for the price New Relic does. Plus New Relic allows him to drill down from the end user experience down to the processes that are running in the application to find where the potential problem is, not where it might be. This combined inside-out and outside-in perspective is key.

Facts, Not Fiction

By using New Relic, Demian now says he can focus on other more pressing problems because he and his team were able to solve issues with the network, DOM, the database and more. With New Relic and RUM you are dealing with facts, looking at the picture of what exactly is happening instead of stakeholder opinions.  There’s no wasted time going back and forth trying to determine what the issue is. New Relic is also well liked by the entire engineering team, which is very important to Demian.

All Systems Go: Check

So far, for Demian and Teaching Channel, it’s been smooth sailing with New Relic thanks to the simple setup and the ease of doing business. Better yet, “New Relic paid for its self in a week” Demian said.  “Pricing is not an obstacle.  It’s well suited to getting you in and going, and if you scale up it won’t break the bank.” As far as what the future holds, Demian is planning on using the embeddable reports function to create a consolidated reports dashboard he can share with the whole team.  And who knows, maybe one day he’ll even post them the on their site so users can see how well they are doing!  It will also help the team be more efficient, optimize continuously, and better yet, spend more time focusing on building a cool educational tool and less time on performance issues.


New Relic is very happy to welcome  Teaching Channel into user community.  Keep an eye on their site–they just launched a beta version of the service, and teachers are signing up now as founding members.  We’re very excited to watch them positively impact and change children’s lives through education!'

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