From VR projects designer to a platform for improving digital literacy: innovations in the field of education tests

August 11
Economy and entrepreneurship

The innovation proof-of-concept testing program allows developers to find suitable sites for testing products in real conditions, improve them and receive feedback from users.

“There are 137 sites for pilot testing of innovations in Moscow. More than 400 companies have already participated in this program; they have created advanced projects in 18 industry areas, for example, in medicine, education, information technology, manufacturing and others. To date, almost 90 proof-of-concept tests have been completed,” Aleksey Fursin, Head of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovative Development of Moscow said.

The program has been implemented by the Moscow Innovation Agency since 2019. Recently, four Russian companies that develop cutting-edge educational projects have become its participants. Their representatives told about their products and shared their impressions of the program.

Unique Designer

Varwin Education is a VR projects designer that does not require profound programming skills from the user. The Blockly language is used to write a program code in a visual logic editor. This technology is one of a kind in this country.

Apart from the editor, Varwin Education includes a library of ready-made objects, a script editor and a training curriculum intended for 72 academic hours that is ready for implementation in educational institutions.

Users can upload their own 3D models and multimedia files for use in individual VR projects. The designer interacts with all mass virtual reality headsets including mobile ones, and is able to work in display mode without connecting VR equipment. According to Aleksander Pikulev, project manager such a training resource is more relevant today than ever:

“Since 2019, the Education national project is being implemented in Russia within the framework of which a number of federal programs for the introduction of virtual reality technologies into schools have appeared. At the same time, the domestic market of the basic school education lacks the necessary software."

According to him, the existing 3D content is expensive and is developed only on commercial terms, while the Varwin Education project which is a software of the RMS (Reality Management System) class is aimed at solving this problem.

Aleksander Pikulev, Head of the Varwin Education project

In 2020, the product passed pilot testing at the State University of Management with the participation of 20 students. The main task was to check the technical and functional characteristics of the designer. As a result, the students who had been divided into groups made and successfully defended four diverse projects.

“The following semester the students chose Varwin Education as the main tool within their project activities again and defended their course paper with excellent results. At the beginning of the new academic year the company plans to invite the active members for practical training which definitely proves that the pilot program was successful for both the university and Varwin,” Aleksander Pikulev said.

Online Programming School

According to the ProKids project founders, the ability to program is one of the key skills that, along with knowledge of a foreign language and mathematics, will be especially in demand in 15-20 years. Educational platforms that can give children the necessary knowledge in an accessible form are really in great need nowadays. One of such is the online school that teaches programming through the Minecraft and Roblox games.

“Before, such process required the computers long setup which demanded good skills of the students. In our case everything is as simple as possible: a student just downloads the game, starts it and the learning process begins,” Sergey Zhuchkov, General Director of the ProKids company says.

Sergey Zhuchkov, General Director of ProKids

The project proof-of-concept testing lasted seven months and completed in April 2021. The rehabilitation boarding school No. 32 of the Moscow Department of Labor and Social Protection of the Population became a platform where the tests were conducted. It was important for the developers to make sure that the platform would be interesting for children and convenient for the teacher to use. 25 pupils of the fourth and sixth grades took part in the tests.

“The initial goal of the project is to help as many children as possible to get high-quality knowledge and skills, distract from content consumption, and encourage creativity using modern technologies,” Sergey Zhuchkov explains. “We learned about the proof-of-concept testing program from the press. The approval process was simpler than could be expected from a state body. We were pleasantly surprised by the level of support at all stages of the work.”

According to the results of the pilot tests, the school management highly appreciated the development and recommended it for use in other educational institutions.

“Besides, during the testing it was recommended to finalize the methodological part of the project. And we are already actively working on the courses and plan to launch them in early autumn,“ the company’s CEO said.

Platform for Online Events

The development of the Everytale platform which is designed for holding online events of any standard - from small workshops to international conferences - started at the end of 2019. A year later, a beta version appeared which is already used by over 50 thousand people around the world.

“Content creators can go to Everytale and make their own event within a few minutes. An ordinary user, when he gets on the platform, can watch all the online events held in the world and join them; he can ask questions, make presentations, act as a speaker and gather small communities among visitors to discuss topics of interest,” Valery Makovetsky, Commercial Director of Nex-T LLC explains.

Valery Makovetsky, Commercial Director of Nex-T LLC

The company has offices in the USA, Germany, and India. The development is being carried out in Russia.

“The volume of the online events market today is more than 77 billion dollars, and by 2027 it will hit 400 billion. It is obvious that in the conditions of a pandemic this segment is the most attractive and in demand. Fortunately, we started the development almost a year before the introduction of restrictions, because creating such a platform requires a lot of human and time resources. At the moment, 36 developers and analysts are working on the project,” Valery Makovetsky says.

The Association of Russian Student’s Teams was the first to test the platform; it held a competition among its employees for the best educational webinar. Several thousand users joined the event. A feedback was received, and the necessary changes were made to the work of the platform.

From VR projects designer to a platform for improving digital literacy: innovations in the field of education tests

Having become a participant in the innovations proof-of-concept testing program, the company entered into an agreement with the Synergy University. It took only two weeks to agree on all the details. The test results are expected in the nearest future.

Speaking about the innovations proof-of-concept testing program, Valery points out its advantages: “The program allows the developers of new projects to get feedback from potential customers and understand what needs to be changed. At the same time, the path to the person who makes the decision on purchasing is significantly shortened. Frequently this is important because without external help it is difficult for a young company to convince a corporation or a government agency of the value of a new and untested product.”

Enhancing Digital Literacy

The Digital Citizen system is practically the only professional licensed platform for individual testing and enhancing digital literacy. It was developed in 2020 by the NAFI analytical center. A year later, more than 20 thousand people were tested using the platform including more than five thousand employees of state organizations and private companies.

“Today, many people recognize that digital competence is becoming one of the main advantages in the labor market. According to the results of our research, 45 percent of Russians understand that knowledge in the field of IT can help them progress up the career ladder, and 53 percent say that expertise in information technologies at their workplace is expertise. At the same time, every fourth Russian (26 percent) is afraid of losing his job due to the fact that more and more digital technologies are being introduced at the enterprise or in the company with which he cannot work,” Lyudmila Spiridonova, Executive Director of the NAFI analytical center, an expert of the Digital Citizen project says.

Lyudmila Spiridonova, Executive Director of the NAFI Analytical Center, expert of the Digital Citizen project

According to her, the platform with a system for diagnosing the level of digital literacy helps everyone prepare for the environment of the digital economy and increase their employability in the labor market.

In 2020, the Digital Citizen project became a finalist of the Innovator of Moscow award. It was included in top 30 of the 500 best innovative projects of the capital city in the Innovation Leaders nomination. Currently, the project is also a member of the online platform called Map of Innovative Solutions of the Moscow Innovation Agency.

The platform proof-of-concept testing took place in the first half of 2021. The venues were the State University of Management and the Synergy University. The tests were carried out in a remote format. Students of both universities were diagnosed for the digital literacy level, received results and relevant recommendations (an individual learning trajectory was developed for each), as well as certificates confirming the test results.

From VR projects designer to a platform for improving digital literacy: innovations in the field of education tests

“Though at that time our project already had several commercial and government customers, the proof-of-concept testing program turned out to be very useful. In accordance with the detailed methodology of conducting proof-of-concept tests of the project, we received independent feedback from users, as well as recommendations for the development of the platform, new ideas regarding various improvements and optimization of the project,” Lyudmila Spiridonova says.

Thus, according to the results of the proof-of-concept tests, it was proposed to develop a testing version for people with poor eyesight (increase the font) both for the desktop version and for the application, and also add the Errors Correction block with questions that were answered incorrectly and a detailed explanation of the correct ones.

"We are very grateful to our colleagues from the Moscow Innovation Agency for the opportunity to conduct proof-of-concept tests of our innovative product in ‘field’”conditions on the basis of large educational institutions. This is a very useful practice that helps many young projects,” Lyudmila Spiridonova emphasizes.

The Moscow Innovation Agency was created by the Moscow Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovative Development. It brings together representatives of the city government and business, as well as technology companies to jointly solve problems of creating, testing, and implementing innovative solutions in Moscow.


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