In 2019, a virtual Student Exchange Platform (SXP) was developed in Singapore by St. Uriel Education to facilitate international virtual exchanges by students. The raison d’etre for the SXP was to develop students’ global competencies in addition to improving their scholastic performance on mathematics, science, and reading set by the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment.
During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the SXP was well received by schools in China, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand. These virtual exchanges on the SXP allow students to participate in activities through workshops that involve virtual school visits, asynchronous and synchronous lessons on Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM lessons carried out through Educational technology such as Robotics, VR, 3D printing), virtual competitions, culinary and baking skills, language games etc. The activities on SXP allows students to break through cultural, language and attitude barriers apart from helping them to improve academic performances.
Education and Tourism converges on the SXP, as it incorporates features that allow teachers, tour guides (acting as facilitators and translators) and students to interact, co-create and collaborate on exchange activities. Virtual Exchanges take place within SXP’s Spaces (Communities of Learning, as part of the pedagogy). The SXP allows parents and other stakeholders of OST (Overseas Student Tourism) to be involved as well – for instance attractions in Singapore’s Sentosa that creates more excitement in the virtual environment, or cooking studios that allow overseas students to see how local delicacies can be made with 3D food printing.
Participants of each virtual exchange programme can share a calendar of activities, chat with each other, share/like comments on pictures and documents, have video calls (1-1 or 1-many), assign/share tasks to students/teachers/tour guides etc. The SXP allows participants to feedback, track and resolve issues with the exchange program (for quality assurance to students/teachers/parents). By making virtual exchange activities visible, and hence actionable, it will demonstrate value to all stakeholders.