Not stopping at streaming pre-recorded lessons over the internet, the global school used APIs and SDKs to facilitate classroom-like student-teacher interactivity

The use of technology in language teaching is common nowadays, especially after how the coronavirus pandemic had in the past few years completely turned class-room teaching into virtual living/study-room teaching.

Even when classroom lessons were possible, restrictions in terms of mask mandates, the number of students allowed in physical classrooms, and the learning activities allowed, had driven many educators to push for home-based learning by default, using the common free tool Zoom, together with existing digital teaching and assessment modules.

In Singapore, where bilingualism and a heavy focus on language learning exerts a heavy toll on students, the video conferencing/meeting tool was not only a powerful enabler for one global language school—LingoAce—but a catalyst of more digitalized pedagogical ideas and coursework to keep learning standards high not only in Singapore but around the world.

How so? Hugh Yao, CEO, LingoAce, explained to how this was achieved, while Ricky Kapur, Head of APAC, Zoom, was also roped in to provide some insights…

DigiconAsia: How do you leverage technology to bridge the challenges of teaching in the current diverse range of global restrictions while still maintaining standards?

Hugh Yao, CEO, LingoAce

Hugh Yao (HY): We use various technologies to offer an immersive online environment designed to maximize teacher and student interaction. Besides the use of digital animations and illustrations with authentic Chinese elements, we integrate gamification, role-playing, multimedia effects—all in real time during virtual lessons that encourage student-teacher interaction and feedback.

While we could always just play back pre-recorded lessons over Zoom, that would not be enough to meet our goals of simulating a classroom-like learning environment and offering the best possible learning experience. So, we add additional on-the-spot teaching and guidance features via our own in-house developed platform that uses the Zoom software development kit (SDK).  

Through this SDK, our platform allows students to also easily purchase class credits, book classes, and attend online sessions in a seamless way.  

Ricky Kapur, Head of APAC, Zoom

Ricky Kapur (RK): The flexibility that our platform provides allows LingoAce to embed Zoom’s video capabilities directly into their platform as well as customize their audio and video streaming capabilities according to both the business and students’ needs.

As the architecture is optimized to meet demanding video communications needs, LingoAce is able to offer increased video participation capacity without sacrificing visual quality. Up to 40 people can be on screen at the same time, on any device, to share streamlined enterprise-grade videos for effective learning.

Our SDKs support both screen sharing and in-session chat messaging while maintaining high-quality video and audio streams. With both options available, this caters to all types of students and ensures that they never feel afraid to speak out or ask questions.

DigiconAsia: What considerations, in terms of software integration, were most important when you were deciding on integrating your own platform into a video streaming architecture for customised pedagogical features?

HY: To support the development of our online classes with a high standard of visual streaming stability and quality, we had previously used a variety of external products, including another video SDK.  

However, Zoom’s SDK happened to meet those developmental and integration needs, as it allowed us to provide more stable online classroom experiences to not just Singapore customers, but to our users all around the world.

The SDK has the flexibility to facilitate the development of our custom user interface with our own branding, video composition, and layout, on top of features like screen sharing, in-session chatting, gallery viewing, and third-party streaming. Zoom has also created customized application programming interfaces (APIs) for us, working extremely closely to create more functionalities within our online classroom platform.

With this tight integration, students can log in, log out, and enroll in an online class with just a few single clicks or finger taps. 

DigiconAsia: With a strong digital and virtual learning platform in place, what recent and upcoming innovations are you planning for your courses?

HY: As the most spoken language globally, English was a natural progression in our course content. Leveraging our know-how in teaching Chinese, we have developed an English language learning experience that shares similar teaching concepts and methods.

There are a few other areas that LingoAce is innovating in and monitoring very closely: specifically, how we leverage augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and how we drive hyper-personalized learning at scale:

  1. Leveraging AR/VR: In future versions of our classroom software, we will include AR stickers and gesture recognition features to give students a more immersive learning experience. We are also improving speech recognition capabilities to create a better learning environment for learners.
  2. Hyper-personalized learning, at scale
    Rather than just teaching a language in a structured way, we want to personalize each student’s learning journey so that all learners will be motivated to continue learning on their own and attain or even create new knowledge.

    Singapore, we are now testing new curriculum features to improve student engagement and learning results. In Thailand, we are redesigning our foundation program to make it uniquely suited to non-native speakers who have limited Mandarin-learning options in their everyday life.

    Through hyper-personalization, we hope to cater to a huge community of learners that may already be enrolled in Mandarin classes but want more exposure, and we also want to reach out to learners looking for efficient and suitable online resources to meet their language mastery needs.

DigiconAsia: How will the existing learning platform support the aforementioned innovations?

RK: AR and VR will help LingoAce virtually replicate the best experiences of the physical classroom, as teaching a language requires context, immersion, and engagement.

Furthermore, today’s digital native students, having grown up in the age of the Internet, come with higher expectations and demands for their online experiences.

Currently, LingoAce’s platforms already have several integrations in place, including our Video SDK and cloud recording, in addition to the usual API. We will continue supporting the upcoming LingoAce enhancements with more custom APIs and collaborate closely to identify needs, expand the functionality of the online classroom, and assist students in overcoming language learning barriers through a fun, immersive, and interactive educational experience.

DigiconAsia thanks Hugh and Ricky for sharing their technology collaboration insights.