Meet InSpace – and learn how we’re reshaping online education
Written by: Narine Hall, Ph.D
As a professor, I know how important student engagement is for student success and student retention. And whether your class is online, in-person, or somewhere in between, engaging students – and keeping them engaged – can be a real challenge. The same is true for other areas of the campus that rely on engagement such as admissions, advising, and support services. Add in clunky, outdated, or restrictive technology and the challenge of engaging students becomes even more acute.
When learning went virtual, I experienced this challenge first hand. In my own virtual classroom, I tried everything. From rigid, built-for-business solutions like Zoom to more whimsical options like Gather and Sophia, these platforms were functional, but not what I needed. What I found – and my fellow educators agreed – was that none of these platforms or apps enabled me to recreate genuine learning moments. You know the ones – where you see light bulbs go on and students light up, filled with inspiration to research and learn everything they can about a new topic. That feeling no longer existed.
As I watched my students struggle with engagement in my own online classrooms and as we navigated limiting technology together, I knew there must be a better way to make students feel included, excited, and eager to participate in class, especially when those classrooms are online. A way to recreate those “a-ha” moments and foster the collegial, interactive, and collaborative environment of higher education.
It was at that point that I pressed pause on being a professor and reached out to my co-founder and together, we imagined the possibilities. What if we could build a collaboration platform – just for education – like no one else matters? And that’s how InSpace came about. Very quickly the team grew, and we were on our way.
Reshaping education with InSpace
InSpace is an innovative video collaboration platform built by educators, for educators. Our number one priority is to cultivate an authentic, online learning experience for both educators and learners. Our innovative design, informed by over 500 educators, allows students and instructors to interact in the same ways they would in a physical classroom, providing the human connection and social cues that are often missing with traditional video conferencing platforms.
We designed InSpace with purpose – to foster an environment of inclusion. Where every student is seen, heard, and engaged. Where students and educators can engage in organic conversations, just like they would in a traditional classroom.
And the experience extends beyond the online classroom as well. Other areas on campus such as admissions, advising, and support services appreciate the experience that InSpace provides as they work to engage students and deliver the support they need to succeed across the student experience.
Ever felt stuck in a virtual box?
I know I have. That’s why it was important to me that we designed InSpace with movement in mind. Instead of locking students into a static square, InSpace uses circles that can move and expand. And because they are round, the focus is on the students themselves – not on the students’ backgrounds. And guess what? All the circles appear on the screen – all at once! Gone are the days where one person’s video dominates the screen and only a few, select classmates are visible. With InSpace, everyone in the class can see everyone else.
Students and educators also have the freedom to move themselves around the virtual room, to join small group conversations within larger learning spaces, and to enter and leave visually-connected breakout rooms at any time. It gives them control of their experience, which students love. And it makes the whole environment feel more social, natural, and organic.
“ The students appreciate an application where they have control. That’s their biggest feedback.That they are not stuck in a box like in WebEx or Zoom. I have the ability to move myself. I’m in a circle instead of a square. And I like it because I’m less boxed in and it’s more of a social tool within the class,” shared Lisa Keohane, Associate Director, Academic Technologies at Babson College.
Using proximity-based audio, students and educators can move their circles closer to others in the room to have small group or 1:1 conversations without disrupting the entire classroom. This feature makes group work much more natural, and allows conversation and engagement to flow more naturally as it does in traditional classrooms.
A simple way to promote student engagement
A mantra we embraced when developing InSpace was “keep it simple.” And that includes making everything from sharing your screen to entering and exiting breakout rooms easy and intuitive.
Take breakout rooms as an example. In traditional video conferencing platforms, the process to enter and exit breakout rooms is confusing – not to mention disruptive. And for instructors, it’s even worse. They can only see students in one breakout room at a time – and they need to be present in the breakout room to see what’s going on. And when they enter or exit, they disturb the flow of conversation.
With InSpace, that experience is totally different. Breakout rooms are visual, allowing the instructor and all the students to see all the breakout rooms, all at once. Within the breakout rooms, students can collaborate around a whiteboard or Google doc. And educators don’t need to be inside a room to see what’s going on. Instead, they can observe the breakout rooms from outside, just like they would observe group work in a traditional classroom, and they can see who is talking by watching the movement of the circles in the room.
If instructors want to engage or listen in to what a group is doing, they can easily move into and between rooms by sliding their circle into the room. And because there is no need to “admit” them using multiple clicks, they don’t disrupt the conversation.
Educators love that they can see the levels of engagement within each room. They know which rooms are having a lively debate and which rooms are sharing a screen. They can also tell if students are not participating, simply by watching their circles. If it’s pulsing, they are part of the conversation. If it’s not, then they are staying quiet.
“As an instructor, it was great. We had full visibility into what was happening. We could see which kids were talking. Who was sharing their screen. What are they sharing on their screen? All of these things that we would never be able to do on another platform,” said Adam Goldstein, Assistant Professor and Academic Program Director for information technology and sciences at Champlain College and lead instructor for Gen-Cyber.
Educators can easily reconfigure their online classroom, too, bringing students back together in a lecture hall. Each student can take a seat around the virtual classroom, just like they would in a traditional on-campus setting. We’ve heard from many schools that students love that they can choose their own spot and see all their classmates during the lecture. And with more courses offering online lectures, this feature is critical to replicating a human, connected experience.
InSpace reshapes the online learning environment for both synchronous and asynchronous learning by creating an exciting and engaging environment. Through integration with major learning management systems, InSpace can help students and instructors easily access course materials and discussion boards so that classroom engagement can continue asynchronously, after the synchronous experience ends.
InSpace 💜s education
At the heart of InSpace is a team that is 100% committed to education. Many of us – including our leadership – are educators, so we bring first-hand knowledge of what your students and educators need in their online classrooms. And beyond our team, we engage with education professionals to gather additional input on new features to ensure what we develop is exactly what you need.
Our team is also dedicated to ensuring that you have the support you need, when you need it. We offer a variety of support styles, from 1:1 support to self-service knowledge bases, so you can quickly and easily find the information you need. And we’re constantly asking our customers to tell us what they need to make their experience with InSpace even better.
As you can tell, not only am I passionate about education. But I’m passionate about reshaping the online learning experience. We all know that online learning is here to stay. So let’s do everything we can to make the online experience more engaging by developing new – and better – ways to teach and learn.
To request a customized demo, please visit https://inspace.chat/demo/.