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How Bismark Agbemble makes virtual learning a more equitable experience in Richmond

Posted at 8:43 AM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-16 08:43:49-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- As we saw at the beginning of the school year, virtual learning can be disrupted by technical problems, but what about the emotional ones?

Bismark Agbemble, a former Richmond teacher, discovered a problem.

"Many of the kids were not turning on their camera," Agbemble said.

He soon learned those students were uncomfortable with exposing their homes, bedrooms, and other personal information to others.

"Then the 'ah' moment came in. How can we protect our kids and make it more equitable and an even playing field," he said.

His company, Plugin Technology Corporation, partnered with Richmond Public Schools to create customized backdrops to help students feel more comfortable. Students, teachers, and staff can download virtual backgrounds for all kinds of things.

"So can you imagine it's your birthday today. You log in and your background says Happy Birthday. Imagine having a quiz and all the formulas you've gone over the entire week is in the backdrop," he said.

Something as simple as a backdrop can eliminate distractions, help a lesson be more engaging. That can lead to kids feeling more comfortable, increase attendance, and raise their interests in learning.

"We have one: believe, imagine, achieve. So these subliminal words can be positive, uplifting that kids can have in the background," he said.

Positive messages that help in the transition to virtual learning is building better minds.

Building Better Minds with Rob Cardwell airs every Wednesday at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on CBS 6 and is sponsored by Virginia Family Dentistry.

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