COVID-19 isn’t stopping this Shanghai professor from making his online classes as entertaining as possible.
Jiang Fei, a digital art professor based out of Shanghai, China, has developed a piece of software that allows him to transform into a variety of virtual characters in an atttempt to attract more students to his online classes.
The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has led to the adoption of digital classrooms, online exams, and virtual flag-raising ceremonies by many Chinese schools, including Shanghai Universities Fine Arts College, where Fei works as a digital art professor. While speaking to the Chinese news site The Paper, Fei explained the difficulties of conducting an online class, especially one centered around computer programming for artists. One of the biggest hurdles according to Fei is keeping students motivated in their studies and up-to-date on their assigned coursework.
In an effort to help increase not only attendance but student engagement and retention, Fei developed his own custom software that utilizes a binocular camera to track human bones and overlay them with 3D digital models in real-time. After isolating himself in his home this past January due to the outbreak, the innovative educator began using this custom software to spice up his live streams and recorded lessons. While Fei is capable of switching between multiple characters—including monsters, robots, and Iron Man—his students have since grown particularly fond of one specific anime schoolgirl model, which has since become his go-to avatar for his lessons.
Every class is conducted remotely from his personal workstation, which is composed of six different monitors each of which displaying information essential to running his class, including virtual characters, students status’, feedback data, and WeChat.
Since implementing the technology into his lessons, Fei has reported an overall increase in student engagement as well as noticeable improvements to retention. At the moment Fei is utilizing the technology as part of both his Undergraduate and Graduate classes.
As government agencies around the world begin enforcing tighter lock-downs and continue to promote social distancing, the time could ripe for a new wave of virtual entertainers, educators, and online personalities.
Feature Image Credit: The Paper