A post-pandemic platform by educators for educators mirrors the classroom experience.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
In the spring of 2020, moving to virtual education made Narine Hall (pictured, above) realize that video conferencing was lacking, causing a major learning loss. “The lightbulb moments were gone and replaced with awkwardness,” she recounts. “I needed to see my students and social cues to have vibrant conversations and create knowledge through teamwork.”
Narine knew there must be a better solution, and quickly hit the ground running to create InSpace. “There was no turning back from that point, educators needed this platform,” she says.
‘I needed to see my students and social cues to have vibrant conversations and create knowledge through teamwork.’
“InSpace created a bottom-up approach to implement features based on educator suggestions. It’s a platform built by educators for educators to seamlessly mirror the in-person classroom experience.”
As the Founder and CEO, Narine responds to more detailed questions about plans for recent funding, what sets her solution apart from others, why it is so relevant going forward, and what’s just ahead.
Congrats on your success thus far and your recent funding. How do you intend to use it?
With the acquired funding, we intend to expand educator support to maintain our rapid growth and establish a network for users to share ideas and success stories. Additionally, we will implement improvements such as streamlined registration and payment.
What makes your solution unique from other educational video conferencing platforms?
InSpace is fundamentally different from all the other solutions as it disrupts the technology to accommodate the educator’s needs, instead of disrupting the education process to accommodate the technology. Educators are really good at what they do, we just need to complement their process with the right technology. At InSpace, we put the educators at the center and build everything around their needs.
InSpace allows instructors to mimic the flow of a face-to-face class in a virtual space and empowers students to control how they engage leaving them with the feeling of total agency over their experience. Users seamlessly switch from communal class discussions to private conversations or group work, like a lab or classroom with one click. Teachers can speak to everyone when needed, move between individual students and groups for smaller discussions, and place groups of students in audio-isolated rooms for collaboration. During the entire experience they have visual view of all students in the class.
Unlike other virtual learning platforms, InSpace allows participants to break free of static squares to create an engaging collaborative environment. Each participant is represented in a video circle that can freely move around the space. When people are next to each other, they can hear and engage in conversation, and as they move away, the audio fades, allowing for one-on-one and group conversations all in one space. As participants zoom out, they can see the entire space, which provides visual social cues.
How will educational video conferencing be relevant for educators post-pandemic?
The pandemic created just the right environment that education desperately needed for adopting to our current digital reality. Students today are digital natives and failing to adopt can be detrimental. Collaborative digital environments that include engaging video conferencing are going to be a necessity.
For example, some educators have noted that holding virtual office hours in InSpace has created a more efficient use of the time as students can connect with their professors without the hassle of meeting in a physical space.
‘…holding virtual office hours in InSpace has created a more efficient use of the time…’
Additionally, many professors noticed that when students hangout together while waiting to talk to the professor, they often figure out the solutions on their own. So, professors started creating discussion rooms within InSpace based on common questions, allowing them to see where everyone is and use that time to learn together.
InSpace is also democratizing education by creating engaging student communities around online learning and pushing it a notch closer to traditional experience.
Where is your technology currently being used?
InSpace is used by professors in over 100 universities and K-12 schools. A few examples of include U.C. Berkley, Babson, and Brown University.
Looking just ahead, what new features will there be?
During the pandemic, InSpace has focused on creating engaging classroom interactions in virtual spaces. Just like in a real classroom, students collaborated with their professors, asked one on one questions and did teamwork in audio isolated rooms, without ever leaving the space.
We are now focusing on asynchronous interactions that follow the meetings by giving everyone the opportunity to continue the conversation outside of the classroom and stay engaged with the topic. It’s all about building a community around courses and social learning. We are using the same pedagogical research around collaboration to create vibrant conversations around learning and peer to peer interactions that can happen anytime, not just during classes and office hours. All these will seamlessly work with LMS systems like Canvas, Blackboard and Moodle as well as Slack.
Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: [email protected]