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InSpace: A New Collaborative Virtual Education Platform Launches At Champlain College

Created by Educators for Educators, InSpace Innovates Virtual Learning

InSpace announced the launch of a groundbreaking virtual learning platform that transforms teamwork in education through smart design. Its innovative approach allows multiple conversations to happen simultaneously in one space, enabling students and teachers to interact and collaborate just as they do in physical spaces. Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont is the first college using the platform for classes this fall through a pilot program. InSpace plans to offer the platform to other colleges and universities starting in November in preparation 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. People can seamlessly switch from communal class discussions to private conversations or group/team-based work, similar to the format of a lab or classroom. 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.

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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. InSpace is focused on these essential realities.”

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Formed as a private company in 2020, InSpace Proximity, Inc. was founded by Dr. Hall and co-creator Haykanush Lputyan, along with David Bradbury on growth and business development, Dr. Brian Hall on content development, and a ten-person engineering team.

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Dr. Hall credits Champlain for its support and encouragement of faculty entrepreneurship. Recognizing the need for a better solution for virtual learning and the opportunity to provide a more personalized educational experience for its students, Champlain also became the first beta tester for the new platform, which will eventually be licensed to other organizations.

“InSpace shows what is possible when institutions of higher learning approach the pandemic as an opportunity to pivot to innovative solutions,” says Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande, Champlain’s President, noting U.S. News & World Report recently named Champlain one of the most innovative schools in the Northeast. “By building on what makes Champlain special — our entrepreneurial mindset, personal connections, and innovative technology — InSpace is reinventing virtual learning at Champlain and beyond.”

During the Fall 2020 beta stage, InSpace is engaging with a select cohort of higher education institutions who wish to deploy, test, and lead in virtual education for better student, faculty, and parent satisfaction and educational outcomes.

InSpace is a suite of patent-pending tools and user experiences that are simple, secure, and scalable. It’s the missing puzzle piece that brings traditional classroom interactions and experience to the world of online education. It connects students and educators in personal ways that motivate and inspire learning. Outside of the classroom, InSpace can be used for study groups, team projects, labs, tutoring spaces, student clubs, office hours, and more.

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