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We Have Been Named to Best Elementary Schools List

Updated: May 12, 2022

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Ma Hla Hla Win had always been a bit of a misfit at school. Bored of having to write verbatim everything the teacher wrote on the blackboard, she was teased by her friends, who often called he an idiot.

Ma Hla Hla’s teachers would often complain about her progress in class, which seemed odd to them – given that Ma Hla Hla’s mother was also a teacher. After she graduated from college many years later, she became enthusiastic about a new approach to education – a more interactive, and engaging one. Ma Hla Hla Win is now the chief executive officer of 360ed, a social enterprise that helps achieve better educational results for students in Myanmar, with the aid of Augmented Reality (AR) and Visual Reality (VR) technology. The technology is called ‘Dat Thin Pone’ (the digital tablet), and offers a platform from which students can learn science, math and languages via interactive apps and flashcards. It’s a more exciting alternative to rote learning. “I thought I was a naughty student,” Ma Hla Hla Win explained to The Myanmar Times. “When I studied in United States though, I came to appreciate that I was a special needs kid and not a dummy. We have different talents and ways of learning, and those aren’t catered for in the traditional classroom setting,” she added. Ma Hla Hla Win studied at Singularity University, and graduated with an MA in Public Policy and Management at Harvard, before returning to pursue a dream of educational reform in Myanmar.

360ed was created at the NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Research Park in Silicon Valley in 2016. Singularity University is on the NASA Research Park campus, and Ma Hla Hla Win’s first business card even contained NASA’s address. “I am a visual learner. I grasped Augmented Reality while studying at the Singularity University. AR and VR technology is used in military training, marketing as well as in the construction industry and in geography. The technology is creative and highly advanced. I thought I could help reform our country’s education system by using it,” she said. She started teacher her daughter the Dat Thin Pone, with a seven-paged digitised comic book. When she returned to Yangon, she was invited to participate in the Children’s Literary Festival, where she displayed her book to patrons at a booth. “Teachers who came to the three-day event were in awe of the comic book, as it had three dimensional figures and sound. They asked me who created it, and wanted to know if I could make text books with AR technology to help kids read,” she said. Last month 360ed’s 4D flashcards won the Nikkei Products Award, which are an annual technology-focused competition organised by the Nikkei Asian Review, a prestigious newspaper in Japan. 360ed now imports their products to Japan and Africa, while the local textbooks here are based on the same concept, content and themes. Dat Thin Pon also saves teachers’ time. Their educational products are accompanied by a series of questions and answers, to help in assessing student progress. “When I was young, I used to help my mother to mark the homework and exam papers. I helped her to produce questions for the exams. When teachers grew older, they started to develop health problems, so this makes their work much easier,” she said. Another aim of Dat Thin Pone is to make the parent-child relationship stronger. “Those children who do not have a tablet or a smartphone can ask for help from parents when they get home, and they can read together,” she said. Though the technology is seamless and easy to use, setting it up back in 2016 was not easy. She faced lots of logistical challenges. She could not find any AR and VR engineers in the country, as “many had not even heard of AR and VR. One asked if AR was a gun,” she said. In Silicon Valley she used to attend many hackathons, a two or three-day training event organised by big tech companies to arm young people with coding and programming skills. Ma Hla Hla Win bought the hackathon idea back to Yangon, choosing the best skilled and motivated to work at her office. She said that they are the best place to meet other tech-minded people, to learn problem-solving skills without needing to enroll in a course. Her office is located on the 6th floor of Tarmwe plaza. The walls of her office are decorated with mural arts, with tech-focused elements. Beyond these walls are an audio room, a room for young tech engineers and a store room where boxes of flashcards are stored. “Myanmar education system is undergoing a process of change, and my husband and I want to be part of this exciting transformation,” she said.

Ref: https://www.mmtimes.com/news/silicon-valley-technology-comes-myanmar.html

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