Zooming in on LingoAce’s digital refresh

Image courtesy of YY TEOH

The pandemic has forced the education sector to go completely online, at least during COVID’s early months. For learning institutions who have already accelerated their digital migration, the paradigm shift was an inevitable phenomena.

Even as pandemic restrictions have already loosened in most parts of the world, online learning is here to stay, and for most organisations, it has now become the platform of choice.

Key to successful online education is the utilisation of the latest technology, primarily video collaboration tools. This was exactly what LingoAce, a Chinese language learning platform for kids, had in mind.

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“Previously, we were using different external products including a video SDK (software development kit) to support the development of our online classrooms. However, as we sought to strengthen our online classroom capabilities, we needed a more powerful and high-quality video SDK to support our classroom infrastructure,” said Hugh Yao, CEO and Founder of LingoAce.

In order to reinforce learning, LingoAce provides interactive virtual classes, with teachers specifically trained to connect with young learners, through the use of animation and creative illustrations involving authentic Chinese elements, gamification, role playing, multimedia, and sound effects.

“Our lessons are carried out live, for real-time interaction and feedback. Compared to pre-recorded classes, our teachers do on-the-spot teaching and guidance to facilitate learning,” said Yao.

Partners for learning

Hugh Yao, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, LingoAce. Image courtesy of LingoAce.

After looking at several vendors, LingoAce decided to tap Zoom for their IT needs. Leveraging Zoom’s Video SDK, the company was able to host virtual classes on their in-house developed platform instead of using third-party video platforms.

“Our platform allows students to easily purchase class credits, book classes, and attend online lessons (powered by Zoom), seamlessly. Compared to paid education plans, we are able to customise our own interface and implement features that better support host-participant interactivity,” noted Yao.

Aside from HD video and audio, Zoom’s Video SDKs also offer interactive features to build video-based applications and desktop experiences with native user interfaces, according to Ricky Kapur, Head of APAC, Zoom.

“Zoom provides users with direct access to raw video and audio data, improving the interaction between users and the app video stream. Where inclusivity is concerned, our Video SDKs enable both screen sharing and in-session chat messages while retaining high-quality video and audio streams— meaning that young kids attending classes never have to feel shy to voice out or ask questions,” said Kapur.

“Our SDKs enable a whole list of functionalities in customers’ apps – from launching a video communication session instantly, to sending instant chat messages during the session, to even broadcasting the video session to third-party live streaming providers,” he added.

According to Yao, learning a new language requires context, engagement, and immersion, whereby a lesson can start off with a virtual playground or garden where kids are guided by the teacher to click through the landscape and play different word games.

This was part of the reason that made LingoAce partner up with Zoom.

“We require the flexibility provided by Zoom to customise our audio and video streaming capabilities according to both the business’ and students’ needs. We can now create a custom UI with our own branding, video composition, and layout, on top of features like screen sharing, in-session chat, gallery view, and third-party streaming,” said Yao.

“Through this partnership, LingoAce will be able to embed our video capabilities into their platform, and customise their video and audio data to best fit their customer needs. Zoom will also be able to support increased video participation capacity without degradation in quality, as our architecture has been optimised to handle video’s demanding requirements,” said Kapur.

Zoom’s seamless integration with their systems was also a plus for LingoAce.

“There are many integrations between LingoAce’s platforms and Zoom, such as video SDK and cloud recording, not just with its standard application programming interface (API). Zoom has also helped with creating customised APIs for LingoAce. Our two technical teams work extremely closely together to create more functionalities within the online classroom for our users,” said Yao.

Future prospects

Ricky Kapur, Head of APAC, Zoom. Image courtesy of Zoom.

With the rapid pace the education sector is changing, learning platforms such as LingoAce are also looking at leveraging emerging technology to aid their students.

Among them are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

“We want to bring the digital classroom experience closer to what is great about the physical classroom, where students are able to interact in class and outside of class, whilst leveraging what e-learning offers us. We have AR stickers and gesture recognition features in the upcoming versions of our classroom software to enable a vivid learning experience to our students. With more accurate speech recognition improvements, we can create a better learning environment for our language learners,” said Yao.

The edtech firm is also eyeing the prospect of hyper-personalised learning at scale.

“Right now, we’re testing new curriculum features in Singapore to enhance student engagement and learning outcomes. In Thailand, we revamped our Foundation programme for non-heritage speakers with limited Mandarin learning resources in their daily lives. It provides an easy and convenient solution to a large population of learners who may already be enrolled in Mandarin lessons but need more exposure, and to non-heritage learners seeking suitable and efficient online resources to meet their needs,” said Yao.

Meanwhile, Kapur highlighted some of the new developments in Zoom’s platform.

“In recent months, we have introduced many features and solutions such as the Zoom Contact Center, Zoom IQ for Sales (conversation intelligence software for Zoom meetings), and updated many of our existing products like Zoom Events and Zoom Apps. We also introduced a live transcription to provide users with automatic captioning during a Zoom call,” he shared.

“Zoom is additionally investing in the integration of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and AR/VR into our platform in ways that make the virtual experience more immersive and engaging, such as through our work with Meta’s Horizon Workrooms,” Kapur concluded.

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