The Artist Academy Project started in Tokyo in 2001. We offer practical lecture programs on music production, management, and live production for those who want to work in the music industry.
In 2007, we expanded to Osaka, and from there to Nagoya and Fukuoka, and for many years before the COVID-19 pandemic, we offered online lectures that were streamed from our Tokyo studio to each of our locations.
After the start of the pandemic in 2020, it became difficult for students to visit our studios, so the format of remote lectures, delivered via video conferencing tools and attended at home, became widespread.
Now that the coronavirus outbreak has subsided, more than 30% of the approximately 100 students attend lectures online using oVice, and about 60% are coming to the studio to join lectures in person.
Mr. Mori (left) and Mr. Takeuchi (right) with the Avex Artist Academy virtual classroom in oVice. Image source: oVice Japan
When we were using video conferencing tools, we were able to host lectures without any problems. However, it became difficult to communicate outside of class by chatting with other students before and after lectures or asking staff members trivial questions.
Although we did not receive direct feedback, we felt that it was becoming difficult for students to stay motivated. Some stopped coming to the lectures midway through, and we felt a sense of crisis, so we decided to review the form of the online lectures from the perspective of the tools we were using.
I like the fact that I can hear people’s voices when I get near them, which is very close to real communication. Thanks to this, chatting casually outside of lectures has become much easier.
When we were considering the introduction of oVice, it was also very reassuring to have the support of the staff at oVice’s “tour space “. I remember how impressed I was with the communication in the tour space.
* …oVice offers a so-called “Tour Space”. In addition to holding explanatory client meetings with the customer success department, the space is open for visitors to explore freely.
While still in the research stage, we could experience what using oVice would be like in the tour space and realize the benefits and effectiveness of the system.
We were able to bring our superiors and decision-makers to the space as well which helped them understand the platform quickly so the adoption went smoothly.
Many other virtual space services are based overseas, so we were very impressed with the Japanese-language support at oVice.
We had to explain how to use oVice to all the students at once, so we had to be creative.
On the wall of the virtual space, we put an easy-to-understand summary on how to use oVice, and proactively created opportunities to use the platform as part of the “Let them use it first” plan.
Since it happened to be the end of the year, we held a year-end party at oVice to familiarize people with the system.
A bulletin board with camera settings and a step-by-step use guide are always posted
(center of the screen). Image source: oVice Japan
Some of the most memorable feedback was, “This place is very comfortable”. They said that they could feel the presence of other students and staff members on the virtual campus. The word “here” was mentioned so I think they felt a sense of “space” that wasn’t there when we were using video conferencing tools.
The staff members have also told us that they have started chatting with students they rarely had a chance to talk to before the implementation of oVice. I felt that communication has been revitalized.
Lecture space (Avex Artist Academy’s virtual classroom in oVice). Image source: oVice Japan
As part of the course program, we hold exchange meetings for employees and students twice a year. Before the pandemic, we rented out a restaurant for the event, which was a large-scale occasion that participants looked forward to.
A year ago, we tried to hold an exchange meeting using a video conferencing tool, but people mentioned that they couldn’t see what was going on in other groups and the number of people they could talk to was limited.
We held an exchange party in oVice in February of this year and were able to host a very good meeting that successfully resolved the complaints we had at that time.
Visually, you could see who was talking to whom in real time and approach attendees to know what they were getting excited about. Many people commented that it was like a real exchange event, where they could join the conversation if they wanted to. I would like to continue to proactively create opportunities for this kind of interaction.
We would also like to provide space for prospective students. We would restrict entry only during lectures, and open the space for the rest of the time so that those interested in the Entertainment Business Course can easily experience the atmosphere.
In this way, I think oVice is a tool that can be applied to many things, and I would like to continue testing out various ideas.
If I had to say something, I would like it if avatars were icons like they are now. Even though there may be a possibility to evolve to 3D or to make avatars more realistic, personally, I feel that it would be easier to use oVice if it were in its current 2D form, so that it’s easy to understand who is where from a bird’s eye view.
I can’t think of any new functions that I would like to see at this time. Since its introduction, I have found that many of the functions I have wanted are already in place, and I think that the tool is thought out in small details.
Though it is a feature I now take for granted, it would be, for example, the megaphone. We often do group work as part of our lectures, and, at first, I thought I needed to go to all the groups to announce the end of the class. A member of the oVice CS team let me know that this feature can be used.
Also, when I thought that, other than the open space, it would be good to have a space that can be locked, I was taught how to set up private spaces.
Whenever I communicate with the oVice staff, I am always impressed by how well-designed this tool is.
There was an episode when, during the non-lecture time, students gathered at a place where the chairs were laid out and played a chair-catch game.
When I first introduced the platform, I thought it would be ideal to create a space where students could naturally gather and communicate with each other, so I remember I was very happy to see such a scene.
In my opinion, there are aspects where virtual communication loses the advantages of real life, but there are also things that can only be done online, and oVice is a combination of the best of both worlds.
It is a virtual space that gives you the feeling of a real space, and it reproduces the good points of physical space in an online environment.
At the same time, with oVice, we can enjoy the advantages of online communication. We have staff available at a hand’s reach in the virtual classroom, so you can go talk to them right away without feeling physically distant. Staying at oVice at night to chat is also possible because it is an online platform.
That’s right. If oVice had been available when I was a student, I would have used it to the fullest. It is such an indispensable tool for staff and students and I will keep using it from now on.