NCEdCloud platform crashes twice during first days of remote learning

Gabriella Franks logs into her online account on the first day of remote instruction at Riverwood Middle School in Clayton, N.C.

RALEIGH — North Carolina’s online platform which hosts various applications used by teachers and students crashed within hours of the start of the first day of the 2020-21 school year.

During the first few hours on Aug. 17, students, parents, teachers and districts all reported issues with logging into the NCEdCloud, the platform used to sign into all of the state’s Home Base services.

Home Base include things such as Schoolnet, PowerSchool, NCEES, Canvas, Imagine Math, and Learning.com. Applications like PowerSchool and Canvas, however, can be accessed separately if needed.

The message disseminated by the N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction’s (NCPDI) Home Base social media accounts said that “NCDPI is working with the vendor to determine and address the root cause of the issue.”

The statewide outages were quickly spotted by Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. Gov. Roy Cooper did not react to the crashes or issue a statement.

“Meanwhile, the virtual charter schools, which @NC_Governor-controlled Board of Education prohibited from expanding, are fully up and running. The consequences of the State Board choice to deny additional educational opportunities are already on full display. #ncpol,” tweeted Berger.

“Closed schools don’t work for working families. With the entire virtual learning system crashing on the first day — now they don’t work for anyone, period,” Forest tweeted. “When Gov. Cooper orders the entire state to learn remotely, he should expect the entire state to log on to the system. #ncga”

While the issues did see resolution, the system crashed again on Aug. 19, prompting N.C. State Supt. Mark Johnson to issue a statement.

“It’s bad enough that so many students don’t have the option to attend school in-person, but malfunctions of the tool that so many schools use to access remote learning are simply unacceptable,” said Johnson. “These are challenging times, and everyone is trying to extend more grace. That’s what Identity Automation, the vendor, got on Monday, the first time their remote learning tool went down.”  

Identity Automation was selected in 2013 under the tenure of Johnson’s predecessor, June Atkinson.

Johnson said that “rest assured that DPI will be having blunt discussions about these failures with the vendor and NC DIT in the days ahead.”

Around 68 North Carolina school districts opened on Aug. 17 under Plan C, which is remote instruction only. To put that in perspective with NCEdCloud usage, those 68 districts represent around 69% of the state’s 1.5 million K-12 public school students.

North State Journal has inquired if any load or capacity testing of the system was ordered or requested before school started any entity, including the governor’s office. Michael Nicolaides of NCDPI Technology Services did acknowledge our request but has not yet provided any information.

About A.P. Dillon 329 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_