As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, most schools are shifting to mainly virtual learning. The lack of communication between teachers, students, and parents has not only resulted in decreased engagement in class, but this social isolation has also caused many to lose the motivation and enjoyment they use to feel while learning. We wanted to create an application that combines aspects from various educational applications to streamline the learning process. However, we also wanted to improve on communication, accessibility, and engagement to vastly improve online learning. Additionally, innovative technology is crucial for our future and greatly contributes to how we live. Global facial recognition is a rising market, and we wanted to implement this feature to improve the learning experience for our generation.

What it does

The access education application utilizes innovative technology to help bridge the difficulties created by online learning. A chat box is used to allow parents, teachers and students to communicate with one another as lack of communication is a prime concern during virtual education. The application allows teachers to improve the online face-to-face interaction they have with students and gain feedback on their teaching styles and student engagement. This is done through a face detection tool that gathers and analyzes students emotions during class lessons. This feedback allows teachers to understand how engaged students are during lessons, and improve their teaching style based on the results that are stored in google cloud. We also implemented two virtual user interfaces. The first was virtual reality which presents key concepts to students as shapes visually using 3D augmented images. Second is geospatial technology which can be used in geography classes to teach students about the world without the need of a physical globe. Furthermore, the application also incorporates updated visual design principles to allow for a better user experience for students. The incorporated technology included APIs and VR applications to improve student engagement and track student progress. Additionally, various accessibility features such as live captioning, bigger text, visual contrast, text spacing, dyslexia friendly text, and a sign language avatar were included in our design to be inclusive and supportive to all students.

How we built it

We have built our application on Figma to visualize the prototype and it's workings in real time. We have implemented the Google Maps API using HTML, CSS, and JSON and used Qoom to build this part of the project. We also included the use of EchoAR to demonstrate what an interactive and engaging assignment would look like. Some of the technologies we have shown in Figma that we would implement include google calendar API to keep track of the different significant dates. Google Video Intelligence API to make note of the students emotions throughout the class and provide feedback to the teachers. Google Cloud would be used to store all the data received from the application. We would also implement an accessibility API to add subtitles, sign language avatar etc.

Challenges we ran into

While brainstorming what to build to have the greatest positive impact on society, we ran into the challenge of how to make it unique as well. To make our project unique, we added different assignments using innovative, and visually appealing technologies. APIs were also used to detect student emotion during class and provide the appropriate feedback to the teacher. We also had to think of a way to detect emotion, leading us to research different API’s till eventually discovering the Google Video Intelligence API. We needed to make sure that our application was accessible for all as well as remaining visually appealing. To make sure that we had a clearer idea of the design of our application and it’s implementation we used Figma to build the project.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

The accomplishments we’re most proud of is the possible impact that could be made with our application. With the countless implementations of unique API’s within this learning tool, it has allowed for teachers to be able to engage students with a higher level of education. This year we all have suffered the effects of virtual learning and how difficult and dissociating it can be. It is why we are proud to introduce an interface that overcomes these boundaries and provides an improvement in online education based on our current educational landscape.

What we learned

Throughout the 48 hour journey, we were able to learn skills and gain further experience through this online, virtual hackathon. Through collaborating with our team, we were able to team work and utilize different communication mediums to ensure our project is finished on time. Using the website figma, we were able to learn new ways to make our app more visually appealing and user friendly. Through this app, we were able to integrate different innovative technologies such as APIs, and 3D virtual reality software through EchoAR. We were able to understand the importance of facial detection and the contributions it can make to different industries, such as education. Through the research and design aspect of this project, we understood and learned the societal impact virtual learning has been having on students and teachers. To make our app more accessible, we also learned to incorporate an accessibility widget and other features such as sign language, or font changing. All the APIs, and features were done using Java, hence, we were able to improve our programming skills as well.

What's next for Access Education

The future improvements that can be made include Google APIs such as text to speech and speech to text, in order to teach reading comprehension, word annunciation, and score reading skills. Additionally, for better efficiency, data can be backed up on a cloud instead of a physical server. Fitness tracking can also be implemented with the same concept of the google facial recognition API, implementing a mental and physical health component to our application as well. This would help make online gym classes more efficient and allow teachers to keep track of student progress. Another beneficial feature would be enabling students to upload a goal list in which teachers will be able to access and work with students to achieve them.

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