Innovation in Vietnam can come from the most interesting places. There’s a startup with motorbike theft prevention hardware. There’s one that crowdsources for tours. There’s another that focuses totally on ecommerce logistics. And don’t get me started on Flappy Bird. The list goes on.
This week, Topica, one of Vietnam’s most successful online learning platforms, is doing something a bit different with English education. The company, which was founded in 2008, already offers certification online, coordinates with colleges to offer online learning support, and also runs the Founder’s Institute annual incubator program. Now it’s experimenting with using Google Glass to teach students English. The program is called TopMito.
As this video shows, Google Glass is being used to allow a teacher that sits at home to coach students that go to a local coffee shop in Hanoi, Vietnam. The coffee shop is working in coordination with Topica because it has foreign expat waiters who can interact with the students in English, allowing the students to use English in a practical way:
Thus, Glass allows the student to have a real-life conversation with a foreigner working at the coffee shop who speaks English, while also getting coaching from their teacher, who sits at home.
Taking Google Glass from coffee shops to supermarkets to celebrities
The new experimental course with Glass started this month and so far has 30 students, while Topica already has over 1,000 English students on its education platform. Each of these students will have one live Google Glass session per week. Four other students – while the Glass-wearing student is in the coffee shop having the lesson – will be able to stream the session online and learn along with the Glass-equipped student. Throughout the week, students can attend each other’s sessions, which run from 8am to 10pm every day.
In the future, the course will move beyond just coffee shops and follow students around supermarkets, bars, tourist spots, and any other places where they can practice their spoken English. Eventually, the course may even get Vietnamese celebrities to go abroad, using Glass, and interact in English and broadcast that interaction for students to see how the celebrities are getting on and communicating effectively in another language.
Pham Minh Tuan, the founder of Topica, says they only have one Glass unit right now, but they’re ordering a second one.
(Editing by Steven Millward)