InSpace: A New Collaborative Virtual Education Platform Launches at Champlain
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Posted by: Jeff Couture
InSpace announced the launch of a groundbreaking virtual learning platform that transforms education through smart design.
Imagine having one-on-one conversations AND group discussions, breakout rooms AND presentations all in one beautiful virtual space? Better yet, picture an online environment where students and teachers can interact and collaborate seamlessly just as they do in real classrooms and labs? That’s InSpace. It’s a remarkably elegant approach to virtual education and an exciting example of disruptive technology at work. Champlain will be the first college to adopt the platform for classes this fall through a pilot program. In November, InSpace plans to offer the software to other colleges and universities as they prepare for the spring semester.
InSpace is designed to mirror the fluid, personal, and interactive nature of a real classroom. It allows participants to break free of “Brady Bunch” boxes to create a fun, natural, and engaging environment that fosters interaction and collaboration. Each person 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 them to find new conversations. As participants zoom out, they can see the entire space, which provides visual social cues. Teachers can speak to everyone when needed, move between individual students and groups for more private discussion, and place groups of students in audio-isolated rooms for collaboration while still belonging to one virtual space.
“InSpace mimics the feel of the classroom,” says Dr. Kylie King, Assistant Professor of Business and Entrepreneurship and Director of Champlain’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “It enables me to easily join student conversations and make myself available to answer questions.”
“I prefer it over Teams and Zoom,” says Dr. Nicholas Gotelli, Professor of Biology at the University of Vermont. “For small-group instruction and videoconferencing, InSpace is an outstanding platform.”
Created by educators for educators, the platform was conceived by Champlain College Data Science and Machine Learning professor, Dr. Narine Hall, who felt frustrated with the limitations current virtual meeting platforms placed on personal interaction when colleges moved from in-person classrooms to online instruction this past March.
“We want our students to experience a feeling of belonging to a school, to a classroom, and to a group, but still have the ability to connect personally in one-on-one conversations,” said Dr. Hall. “Our main purpose is to have education work better in a virtual setting. Teachers need to be able to recognize individual strengths, motivate students to build on them, and help remove roadblocks that are unique to each student.”
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