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Providing quality practical education through a virtual ecosystem to the quarantined education population and at risk students.

Photo of Tooba Waqar Waqar
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Tell us about your idea

With the world in a collective turmoil due to the COVID-19 and nearly all infrastructure coming to a halt including the education system, students are being deprived of an environment that was solely focused towards learning and are shifted to a place that seems rather foreign to them when it comes to constant academic progression that they were used to. Children and teachers being restricted to their homes in midst of the COVID-19, seeking refuge from the onslaught of the pandemic, and are forced to continue their education from a place that is not meant to cater to their academic needs We're building an ecosystem that digitizes practical education for those whose learning has been disrupted by shock, migration or conflict. Aiyin helps reduce costs, bridge distances and maximize impact by replicating and augmenting learning environments virtually. Our solution has been validated on refugees and the need erupted due to the fact that there are a total of 2.4 million refugees housed and 75% of schools in Pakistan without science labs, moreover, the unemployment rate is growing rapidly. Our organization has been working for the past 3 years to bring science labs to Afghan refugee children in Pakistan, as well as training resource scared youth in virtual environments teaching them basic skills.

From our assessment, we have seen an evident overlap in the crisis faced by refugees and the quarantine stricken student/teacher population. Refugees face a massive changes in environment and are exposed to new frontiers where they have to craft makeshift solutions for catering their needs, just like our current student/teacher population. Our solution offers virtual environments that have simulations and 'gamified learning', that can be experienced like traditional games, making the learning process extremely engaging and solving the problem of boring/linear online lectures where the student does not feel any interest. Students could perform experiments with mathematical equations that would simulate what would happen in a real-world scenario. But these aren't simple simulations. These environments can also be viewed in VR other than desktop, making them immersive and allowing the student to navigate the environments on their own path, pace and control, as compared to traditional classroom and online solutions that drag everyone at one speed. Virtual reality allows the student/teacher to teleport themselves to far off and imaginary places they could not have reached in real, allow visualisations and concept deliveries that normal teaching methods could not have achieved, hence allowing students and teachers to explore and navigate through their curriculum in a much more immersive and effective way, all from the comfort of their homes. Teachers can also join their class in our virtual learning spaces through multiplayer and lead an experiment. With our work, students could also understand even on a molecular level, not only seeing the cells and tissues through a microscope but also traveling engaging with them as if they were there, building rock-solid concepts through a medium of education that promises experiential learning. Then we have autonomous avatars in our environment, digital humans who quiz the students through basic AI, express emotions, become more engaging over time, learn from the students through machine learning and then provide analytics and insights to the teacher to keep track of the student's performance in a fulldashboard.

Our learning spaces have yielded increased retention of up to 130% than the traditional methods and teaching media. The learning environments are safer, 24/7 available, immersive and the hardware costs 50 times less than the physical labs and spaces, yet yield full functionality of one. The labs are currently being used by educational institutions and NGO's working in poverty-stricken areas. Currently pilot test beneficiaries of these remote labs are 850 students enrolled inmultiple schools and around 500 youth learning newer skills in safer environments. From these pilot runs, it is safe to conclude that our solution shall revolutionise the traditional teaching system, Pre-COVID and during it. Students, teachers and parents shall be able to depend on an ecosystem that has tangible results, measurable learning outcomes and improved learning all together, right from the comfort of their homes.

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

The greatest inadequacy in pre-COVID school system was the disregard of different learning paces and learning disabilities amongst children overall. This caused a learnig gap amongst students where students were unable to grasp difficult concepts in their curriculum/lessons. I would want newer learning systems to include methods that help in grasp difficult concepts and fill the learning gap such as immersive reality so that education is no more hurdled by the delivery methodologies and shall move past them to a more accessible, brighter future.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

I am the Design Lead at aiyin and a VR developer. My job is to look after and improve user experience in these virtual environments with a goal to improve learning. Under my leadership, aiyin has been shortlisted amongst the top 5 solutions in 'Muhammad Bin Rashid Initiative 2020' under the category 'Innovation for Peace & Justice', that has been backed by top organizations including MIT & Founder's Institute. I with the help of my team have worked with local NGOs and organizations such as Taleem Foundation and The Tent School, and have managed to score key linkages & partnerships with organzations such as Jazz, UNDP, UNICEF, Project Zero by Harvard, and IGNITE. This lead us to grab the attention of top organizations including Google, Harvard, Microsoft & HTC Vive for future work & collaborations. 

From my research and assessment, not only have I have seen the need for immersive learning and integrating interactive concept visualisations inside our traditional curriculum and learning system, but also to have research done in the domain of VR UX design improved for students with inadequate backgrounds due to shock, migration and conflict such as refugees. This shall pave way to even better design principles in VR UX design and game design, hence providing us with an improved foundation in experiential learning that can be scaled to need across virtual learning spaces all around.

What region are you located in?

  • Southern Asia

Where are you located?

We are located in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. A city that holds citizens from all economical backgrounds including refugees in its outskirts, hence enabling us to test our solution with diverse customer personas including private & public schools, military institutions & refugees.


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