As the pandemic lingers on and students return to school, it’s clear that online learning is here to stay. This represents a tremendous opportunity for Oregon’s education technology sector, which has a concentration of established companies and startups in the Greater Portland area and in Eugene. From Alma Software, Knowledge Learning Corp., Learning.com, Lumen Learning and NWEA in the Portland area to Analytic Spot, Avant Assessment, Badgr, Concentric Sky, Emberex and numerous other companies in the Eugene area, the I-5 corridor is increasingly a hotbed of ed-tech innovation.
Now we are seeing partnerships form among local ed-tech and tech companies. Two Eugene-based tech companies recently announced a strategic business partnership to create engaging e-learning content by combining instructional design with new technologies such as augmented reality or virtual reality.
Digital e-learning agency Trifoia specializes in online course and training development including live-action and animation. The Trifoia team creates trainings by taking information and framing it in a way that makes it engaging and easy for learners to understand.
“Our staff uses instructional design best practices to create e-learning solutions for everything from university researchers to employee onboardings to product training,” said Stephen Gee, Trifoia’s marketing manager.
Always on the lookout for ways to make e-learning more engaging, Trifoia CEO Adam Wendt saw a natural fit with another member of the tight-knit Eugene tech community, Glimmer Tech. Glimmer is a specialty software and content developer with a focus on AR/VR.
“Adding AR/VR has huge potential for making e-learning even more engaging,” said Gee. “This is the type of tech we’ve been wanting to use more of. We have some of the best AR/VR people in the county, maybe in the world, here in Eugene.”
Augmented Reality is the superimposition of a computer-generated image on your view of the real world. Glimmer Tech created an AR app that enables users to get an animated experience when they hold their phone up to a brochure or picture.
Virtual Reality is the use of computer technology to create a simulated experience that completely immerses the user in an artificial world. Where AR adds computer-generated images to the real world, VR creates both the objects and the world.
Gee explains that from an instructional design point of view, both AR and VR have interesting use cases.
“AR is a great tool when we need to enhance some material, to add a burst of interactivity and engagement. It helps people remain interested and learning,” said Gee. “With VR, when you can use something that’s as immersive as the real world, that’s a great way to train people. Especially now when it’s not always viable to get people in the same physical place to train.”
The two companies have started brainstorming different projects, including training courses in VR where Trifoia’s animators work with Glimmer’s team to make full training simulations. One example is creating a VR driving simulation to help with drivers ed.
Even during the pandemic, Trifoia is seeing growth and has hired several people. Gee pointed out that the demand for e-learning is high, with many people looking for online opportunities to learn and train.
“We’re excited to start working with Glimmer so that we can expand our capacity to help more people,” said Gee. “Trifoia already has a talented media team. Glimmer’s capabilities make the full package even fuller.”
This is part of a regular guest column written by the Technology Association of Oregon in the Portland Business Journal.