When schools were suddenly shut down last spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, many students were thrown into a world they had never experienced before.
Virtual learning can be challenging and it is not always engaging, so a Toronto-based education technology company came up with an online interactive learning experience that is proving popular in its approach to virtual education.
“We wanted to create virtual reality campuses that are more immersive, more virtual, more gamified,” said the founder and CEO of Tech Adaptika, Hosni Zaouali.
Tech Adaptika developed a “live virtual campus,” which provides students with a comprehensive virtual learning experience.
“It’s just a different way to approach online education,” said Zaouali.
He said his goal has always been to modernize education and bring it into the digital era, but the pandemic helped to speed those plans along.
“Before the pandemic, we were talking about 21st-century education for 20 years. It took a pandemic for the education world to actually move forward and act on it,” he said.
Zaouali pointed out there are currently 40 school boards that are using Tech Adaptika’s platform in Canada, the United States, France and Mexico.
In Ontario, the York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB) has been providing its students with access.
“It’s been a great help for French students … and for the parents that they have live tutoring in French if they don’t speak French to help them on a weekly basis,” said Carlo Di Rienzo, a French as a second language consultant with the YCDSB.
“They also help with math and English and we’ve found the students really take to it.”
Di Rienzo said the software is especially helpful for students during the pandemic.
“They’ve been able to from home now log on and get that support … we service approximately 50,000 students so all students have access to it from Grade 1 to Grade 12,” he said.
In Ottawa, Daryl Knight’s two children log on twice a week to work with a tutor on the platform to study French.
“They’re pretty eager to jump on because the software looks like a video game and it’s a little bit different than even their own virtual experiences that they’ve had in the last little bit,” he said.
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“They have a person walking around and they can kind of explore the world so it definitely is something that they look forward to.”
Knight, who is also an educator, said he sees a future for the software beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I definitely see the power of it as it grows,” he said.
“This type of software is different than even my own virtual teaching experience in the fact that there is a place to go to and you have almost like a personality, so I definitely see the potential in customizing it for the learning experience.”