By June Ramli
Singapore’s thirst for ‘home-based learning’ had spiked by 500 per cent in mid-May as the country started its full home-based learning (HBL) from May 19 to 28 amid a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases within the community.
And as a result parents and educators alike have scrambled to keep up with the type of home-based learning to help it be effective and engaging for students.
During this period, EdTech (educationtech) platforms in Singapore such as Korean-based company Visang, were sprouting up to support parents and schools in enhancing the HBL experience and overcoming learning fatigue for students.
UNESCO has reported that over a year into the pandemic, close to half of the world’s students were still affected by partial or full school closures.
The cognitive demands of participants increase dramatically with the use of webcam communications.
This is severely taxing to one’s attentional control, especially amongst students participating in home-based learning.
In Singapore, schools had to shut their gates with 96 per cent of students pursuing HBL during the circuit breaker last year.
As HBL becomes a norm in Singapore, experts said it does come with a range of difficulties for teachers, students and parents as they adapt to the new norm of learning.
Teachers had to learn new teaching methods to ensure students are being taught at the most efficient and optimal level, while parents oversee supervision and resources for their children to ensure they are given appropriate attention for their learning.
Singapore Education Minister Chan Chun Sing acknowledged that young children, with shorter attention spans and need for physical activity, may find virtual learning difficult.
Therefore, it is now more important than ever to bring the fun back to school to provide students with an engaging learning experience.
This is where Visang, an EdTech company utilising unique Korean learning culture enters via its interactive platform to educate and engage with exciting educational materials.
Visang provides a wide range of educational material and products such as EliF, englisheye, Math Alive, Wings, Challenge, Action Alphabet and Quiz Monster.
Through its interactive and systemized platform with extensive educational materials, the company is dedicated to improving the educational experience one student at a time.
Each of its products has unique content and learning materials targeting preschool to primary school students.
Visang’s hero platform, AllviA, produces interactive solutions that utilise smart boards and pads. This digitised educational platform can be used for any subject using any devices.
Educators are even able to customize learning experiences for their students by digitising content and developing it as a program on AllviA.
Allvia’s flexibility and convenience aids to bridge the online gap between the screens of students and teachers.
With over 1,200 englisheye centers and a record of over 9,600 schools adopting Visang’s textbooks, the company has already made its mark in the education industry in South Korea.
Hoping to take the Korean learning culture global, the company has expanded its footprint to Singapore last month and other countries around the world such as Canada, China and Vietnam.
In an recent interview with dailystraits.com Visang Director of Global Strategy and Business Wookun Hur tells us in detail about its Singaporean operations:
1) How did the Visang come about and how long has it been operational in Singapore?
Our company started as a textbook publisher 20 years ago and remains one of the leading content developers listed in Kosdaq. In the early 2000s, we looked to digital learning for a global market, starting with English and Math materials for K12. Testament to our long history of working with teachers and dedicated in-house tech research, we created more comprehensive digital learning kits that enable a fully interactive solution for both teachers and students. We have a branch in Vietnam, but currently do not have any field operations in Singapore. However, we are actively reaching out to Singapore and neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia hoping to extend our partnership to help teachers and transform classrooms both at home and in schools.
2) What platform does Visang operate on?
AllviA is the heart of our digital products running in schools around the globe. Services vary but most of them run on our cloud server so that teachers and students have more steady and reliable access than before. We are continuously improving the core infrastructure hoping to be able to meet our partners and customers through a web browser in near future.
3) How can Singapore learn from the Korean learning culture?
For a long time, Korea has been well known for its excessive competition in university entrance tests and high expenditure in private education. The Korean government is striving to become a medium that covers overall education through its national educational course and textbooks. This momentum started after the surprisingly high economic growth after the Korean War in the 1950s. Currently, with the focus on cultural and individual growth, there are various methods used in the education field with the combination of content, technology, and group projects inside and outside of the classroom.
4) How can students and teachers benefit from Visang?
Due to COVID-19, many schools and institutions have been closed. Although there are online education companies that help the current situation, Visang’s content is unique by providing content and a strong tool to inspire students’ participation in class. Through pads or mobile phones, students will submit in-class activity results to teachers. Additionally, Visang also provides a “remote learning environment”, such that students and teachers do not need to be at the same place for learning. Visang provides diverse services that are suitable for schools or institutions to take learning online, even after the pandemic subsides.
5) Please explain the Korean learning pedagogy used in Visang.
There is a different approach and pedagogy for kindergarten and primary students in Visang’s learning experience. We approach differently in pedagogy to kindergarten and primary English learning products.
For kindergarten students, Visang uses three major approaches – “multi-sensory learning, whole language approach, and balanced approach.
Multi-sensory learning refers to combining various mediums like video and audio to provide experiential learning activities such as drawing, dancing etc. This way, teachers can promote students’ learning by stimulating their interest.
Whole language approach allows students to improve their skills in a natural and balanced way. Students can acquire language skills to communicate with others, and through interactive learning materials, students can participate in collaborative learning activities.
Thirdly, the “balanced approach” ensures the effectiveness of online learning and traditional face-to-face learning environments to be effective. With a more robust English learning environment and teachers’ support, students can learn English effectively. Our primary program specialises in story-based learning taking learners on adventures that strengthen logical communication and grow emotional intelligence.
6) What are the Interactive and engaging platforms that Visang provides for all students, especially during remote and home-based learning circumstances?
The major difference between our remote learning service and other online education is that ours was designed for group learning. Thus, even though individual students’ learning path can be checked and assessed, the overall classroom activity such as discussion, group activities are still shared during the class. Meanwhile, AllviA platform is uploaded to the cloud server, so that teachers or institutions do not need to set up a technically designed classroom environment. In addition, we are finalising a new edition of working on Zoom to create a perfect environment where students and teachers can participate in the class in their homes.
7) AllviA’s all-encompassing platform helping educators customise learning experiences for their students, could you explain to us what this is with some examples or scenarios?
Visang created and uploaded ELiF, the primary English learning product, into our AllviA platform. It is structured by three stages: pre-class, in-class, and after-class.
During pre-class, they learn the major topics via word learning teachers can check each of the students’ level of understanding in the in-class stage. Hence, teachers are able to judge words that are difficult for students by checking their result during pre-class and explain more about those specific words by using videos or activities in ELiF.
In-class teachers utilise the teachers’ guide Visang provides with functions like a “pen tool” for the teacher to make their own questionnaires for students and assign them to their devices.
During the after-class, students will wrap up with a game, called “Quiz Monster”. This is a 3D MMORPG game, such that students are not forced to review the learnt concept but instead are actively enjoying the learning process.
8) How much does this product cost?
We use an ‘adoption’ structure, where the school sets the scope of usage followed by our proper quote. This ensures that the number of students our customer guarantees is the key factor for deciding the price.
Recently, we have introduced a ‘subscription’ policy hoping to meet the rise in demand and provide competitive prices for all.
9) Is Visang only for individual or collective learning?
“Originally, Visang’s digital content was fit for a classroom-based learning environment. Our primary English learning product, “English eye” adopts a slogan of “self-paced learning” by using digital pad by students. However, it still requires supervision by a teacher or sub-teacher to aid the students along the way.
Our remote learning products are also not specifically designed for individual learning, but rather collective learning with students and teachers even though they are not in the same place. During their discussion, interaction with peers and expressing their ideas during the class will support more effective learning results.
10) Most complaints about HBL are that students are often not engaged during the course so how does Visang keep students interested?
The major difference between existing online and remote content is that ours is built on the interactions between teachers and students. We guarantee 100 per cent participation of students during the class, by providing numerous activities that are assigned to students’ views. If students do not submit their result to the teacher, they can check who did not submit the result via the specific function in real-time. For the kindergarten learners, we have embedded various subjects like Arts, Sciences, or Math into English learning content to naturally absorb basic concepts of different subjects in a fun manner.