Smarter builds an online future for Brazilian education
Online education has many benefits for schools and their students, but purchasing laptops and fixing technical issues can be a distraction for parents and teachers. That’s why SOMOS Educação launched Learning Book—a program that provides its virtual learning platform as a service,including powerful, secure Lenovo Chromebooks backed by Lenovo Device as a Service (DaaS), including comprehensive warranties and technical support, all for an affordable monthly subscription.
Founded in 1960, SOMOS Educação is Brazil’s leading provider of pre-university educational content. Since the early 2000s, SOMOS Educação has been a pioneer in the field of digital learning and was one of the first organizations in the region to offer its content to students and teachers online. Today, its services account for nearly 50% of Brazil’s educational internet traffic.
Digital learning made simple
Over the past two decades, SOMOS Educação has developed world-class expertise in providing high-quality educational content and materials via its online platforms.
However, in its work with teachers and students at many of Brazil’s leading schools, the organization identified a number of practical issues that made it difficult for teachers and students to use online resources in the classroom or when studying from home.
For example, if students use their own personal laptops, the difference in specifications and apps installed on each device can make hardware and software problems very difficult to debug. And if a student’s laptop breaks, their parents may not be able to afford to replace it quickly. In a school with even a few hundred students, there will be technical issues almost every day, distracting educators and students from teaching and learning.
When students are in the classroom, it’s usually possible to find a workaround for most of these problems—but when they are studying at home, even small issues become much more difficult to troubleshoot and resolve. When the COVID-19 pandemic caused most schools in Brazil to close, it amplified the problem: students became completely dependent on online learning so any technical problems would have a tremendous impact on their ability to learn.
SOMOS Educação realized there was an opportunity to transform the delivery of online education across Brazil by providing an end-to-end service—everything from the online learning platform and the educational content to standardized laptops for students, plus comprehensive warranties and technical support—for a simple monthly fee.
Finding the right partner
To turn its vision into a reality, SOMOS Educação needed a partner that could provide both the hardware and support services to complement its best-in-class online learning platform and course materials. The organization drew up a shortlist of vendors, and ultimately selected Lenovo.
“Lenovo came out on top in terms of both the specs and pricing of the hardware, but what really made the difference was the attitude of Lenovo’s top-level management in Brazil,” explains Mario Ghio, CEO of SOMOS Educação. “They saw the potential of our project to improve the learning process for students across Brazil. They went above and beyond to help us achieve our vision at every stage. Whenever we hit an obstacle, we knew we could just send them a WhatsApp message and they would help us solve it.”
The initiative, which SOMOS Educação has branded “Learning Book”, provides a complete end-to-end platform as a service, allowing schools to lease as many Lenovo 100e Chromebooks as their students and teachers need. The Chromebooks are delivered with all the software and credentials needed to access SOMOS Educação’s online learning platform preinstalled, as well as preloaded customizations such as the Chrome Education Upgrade for Chrome OS and Google management software.
Each device is both virtually secured and physically hardened to reduce the risk of either software or hardware faults. The Chromebooks are customized with the SOMOS Educação logo and come with a custom cover with strap. At the Lenovo factory, the Chromebooks are packaged in custom boxes with instructions and reference materials from SOMOS Educação, ready to be shipped out to students.
With DaaS, Lenovo handles all the logistics of delivering the devices, providing technical support and managing repairs as a white-label service. Meanwhile, SOMOS Educação takes responsibility for sales and program management, as well as creating the educational content and managing the online learning environment, which is based on Plurall—Brazil’s leading K-12 education solution.
Helping education continue in challenging times
The program has been a huge success: to date, it has distributed Learning Books to more than 20,000 students and teachers at 100 schools across Brazil.
“In 2019, when we started the program, we were aiming to roll out Learning Books to around 4,000 students,” says Mario Ghio. “When the pandemic hit, the demand increased five-fold, and that growth curve is continuing. The whole initiative has already far exceeded our expectations.”
Reliability was a key goal for the program, and SOMOS Educação is proud of the results. The organization selected the Lenovo 100e Chromebook because it had the lowest rate of return merchandise authorizations (RMA) of any of the models it evaluated. In practice, this has resulted in a very low number of physical faults.
“Regardless of how many Learning Books a school orders, we provide five percent more machines at no additional cost,” explains Mario Ghio. “Those extra devices were originally intended as a buffer in case some of the laptops get broken and need to be sent away for repairs. But in practice, the RMA for the Lenovo 100e Chromebook is much lower than five percent, so we are able to donate the additional machines to disadvantaged students.”
While SOMOS Educação launched the Learning Book program before COVID-19, the pandemic has shown its true value. With entire families forced to stay at home, most households didn’t have enough computers to allow parents to work and children to study at the same time. Learning Book has filled that gap for thousands of families. Moreover, because the service is paid for by monthly subscription there is no large up-front cost, which is especially important at a time when many families are struggling financially.
"We’re proud that by working with Lenovo, we’ve been able to solve one of the most difficult problems in delivering online education—and that our solution is helping students continue their education during a very difficult time. As our partners at Lenovo Brazil put it: ‘This is not about selling hardware, it’s about making a difference in children’s lives".
CEO, SOMOS Educação