LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Distance learning, virtual learning, remote learning, Zoom school -- whatever you want to call it, most Americans are thrilled it's no longer the norm for students.
But what if there was a way to make remote learning more engaging and successful?
While addressing some of the bigger issues facing schools such as teacher shortages and crowded classrooms, in comes Subject, a Los Angeles-based startup that hopes to modernize virtual learning.
"We want to be able to build off of what digital natives have grown up with," said Michael Vilardo, the president and co-founder Subject. "They've grown up with Netflix, YouTube, Instagram, now they have TikTok. We want to simulate those preferences that have made them engage with those products so fluidly. What we do is we provide premium four credit courses that are all premium videography-based and short form. So, all of our videos are anywhere from three to eight minutes in length and about 150 mini-lesson modules will make up a course. We'll obviously layer in quizzes, exams, check for understandings."
You read that correctly. If TikTok and the top U.S. History teacher at Zoom school had a baby, that's Subject, with shorter lessons and a cinematic look aimed at increasing student engagement.
Subject sources instructors from across the country who are flown out to L.A., spending one week at the company's studio recording 100 mini-lessons on the subject they teach back home, but with curriculum that is designed for a virtual audience.
Subject is already in 20 states and in more than 100 school districts offering 60 courses, everything from AP Calculus to a course on Cryptocurrency.
Students don't pay directly for the service, but instead, their school district subscribes to Subject.
The company said the goal isn't to replace teachers, but to fill in holes.
"How do we change parts of the system in a way that has nothing to do with the pandemic, but has to do with making the system much more efficient and sustainable for educators?" said CEO and co-founder Felix Ruano. "Long term, we wanted to think about our product, not just increasing access for students, but thinking about how do we empower that educator to do what they're really good at. Supporting students ... small group instruction."
These are courses that a student could need for college, or a course that could provide valuable direction as they figure out what's next.
"What we do is we help empower an increase in course catalog of 20% to 30%," said Vilardo. "Maybe they lost their calculus teacher or their biology teacher, so those teacher shortages, we can help backfill, and we're offering courses that we're never available at that school."
For more information on Subject, visit their website.