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IVA Global’s virtual school: Ideal for house-bound students

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IVA Global Online School (, has taken remote learning to a whole new level with the creation of a “3D virtual world” school. The 3D virtual school is the first of its kind in South Africa where learners and teachers use avatars to learn and interact.

The school was founded in 2020 by John Luis, who was previously head of academics at the ADvTECH group of schools, which has schools across South Africa, Botswana and Kenya. Luis is also a grade 12 Examiner for Mathematics in South Africa, and has been since 2006.

Launched in 2020, the 3D virtual school allows teachers and students to interact and engage in a virtual classroom as if they were in a physical school, using avatars.

Students will start their school day dressing their avatars, before heading through the school gates to get to their classrooms. Other functionalities include the ability to walk the avatar up to the teacher to ask questions and sitting and engaging with other classmates. 

The students attend classes in small boardroom-type spaces for small class discourse, or larger classroom virtual spaces where they can engage with interactive posters placed on the 3D walls of the classroom.

School assemblies and parent meetings take place in the auditorium, while subjects such as film studies take place in the movie theatre.

The 3D world also has a conference hall in which the school hosts various professional educational conferences, one of which was the international virtual online education expo held between 1 and 3 December 2020. 

In February 2021, the virtual school will host a conference for South African mathematics teachers. 

Functionality is as simple as downloading an app onto a laptop and using the arrow keys or WASD keys on the keyboard to navigate the virtual world.

Students can go down to the beach and get onto a speedboat for a ride out to sea, they can play a game of soccer on the soccer field, or even go to the rooftop and play music.

The 3D virtual school is providing heightened engagement as compared to an online class where students are sitting in a Zoom meeting looking at squares with faces in them.

The school has a comprehensive online social component which includes collaborating with students from around the world and engaging in societies and clubs initiated and led by students. The school also has an e-sports feature where students team up and engage in different games.

While the “real world” has transformed and evolved, the educational arena has for decades lagged, struggling to move beyond standards and practices that perpetuate the mindset of the industrial revolution. The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken up the physical classroom, rendering it somewhat obsolete if operated without technology. Some schools have had to shut their doors, forcing learners and teachers to migrate their learning to digital platforms.

Luis said the establishment of the online school was informed by a growing need among learners to take ownership of their learning as well as the desire to manage their own time and academic work, as opposed to a traditional school setting, where learning, productivity and efficiency are low.  

The school’s fees start from R24 990 for Grade R, and are R29 990 from grades four to grade 12 per annum; the quality of the educator and offering matches the very best in the world.

Luis said the education crisis that South Africa faces is not going to be resolved through building more physical schools and trying to man these with human resources that are not available. Online education is providing hope for thousands of children in South Africa who otherwise struggle to access quality education. 

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