Interpolis and Zwijsen join forces for road safety elementary school students

30 November 2022 Breaking

An insurer and a publisher; at first glance, perhaps not the most obvious partnerships. But in the case of MindLabs partners Interpolis and Zwijsen, the situation is different. They got to know each other through our ecosystem and joined forces to expand 'WegWijsVR'; a future-proof traffic method for elementary school children. Virtual, with an online environment, offline workbooks and the possibility of using VR glasses. Such a package was badly needed, they claim. "There may be fewer and fewer traffic casualties in Europe, but the Netherlands is an exception to that rule. This combination of moves should change that."

This traffic method is a fusion of theory and practice. Children learn how to behave in traffic and learn what the rules are, and can immediately apply their acquired knowledge in a semi-real life environment. "By practicing virtually, elementary school students become more resilient in traffic without creating dangerous situations. Of course, the best learning experience is and remains practicing on your own bike. But the combination of virtual training, assignments from the workbook and eventually going out on the street is much more effective and safer. Because then you already have a set of basic skills before you get involved in traffic," said Yvette Melis, product owner marketing & innovation at Interpolis.

Endless practice and insight into progress
WegWijsVR is designed for students in grades 5 through 8 of elementary school. They are given a basic set of rules for practice, and the opportunity to practice endlessly. The system also provides insight into what the child is good at and what still needs attention. Melis: "Because you can repeat endlessly, the method is very easy to adapt to individual learning needs. For example, you can simulate a certain situation as often as you want, and each time just a little differently, until the child has mastered the principle. That works well."

"We once started WegWijsVR because elementary school children today are brought to school until a much older age," she continues. "Until they are 12 years old, there is a perception among parents: walking or biking to school by themselves is really unsafe. While, in fact, around elementary schools there are a lot of road safety measures in place. As soon as children start secondary school, they are suddenly let loose. Even though they often have to walk or cycle much further than before. With WegWijsVR, we ensure that through a combination of the workbook and gamification, they gain enough knowledge and skills to travel the road to school safely."

Realistic for student, clear for teacher
The program is suitable for all devices. And for the Oculus Go VR glasses, to make the exercises even more realistic. With the special dashboard for teachers, a student's progress and results are visible at all times. And because it is possible to log in from home, parents can also watch, practicing with their children and focusing in practice on the points that still need some attention. Melis reveals, "It has been established what a student should be able to do when he has finished grade 8. But the speed at which the child in question moves through the levels can vary with WegWijsVR. Where one person does the same exercise 5 times, another gets it right away and can quickly move on to more complex or busier situations. The length of the road to it doesn't matter. As long as they eventually reach that desired level."

The package is delivered in combination with Zwijsen workbooks. In-house, the publisher combined the Interpolis data with its own didactic experience in the field of teaching aids for this purpose. "There are different workbooks for the various groups, based on the level to be achieved that year," explained Alice Stappaerts, marketer at Zwijsen. "This way we make sure that students stay on track and have all the skills they need at the end of their elementary school years." The workbook, by the way, also pays plenty of attention to the future. "For example, it anticipates new vehicles on the road, such as electric bicycles and cars. Because you're going to encounter those more and more often. Students are thus ultimately prepared."

Combination between theory and practice
The mix of online and offline works great, the collaborators concluded. "Because of the repetition and writing in the workbook, the knowledge gained will stick even better. And that's what you want to have; automated knowledge building," Stappaerts said. Melis continues, "The partnership between knowledge party Interpolis and the best publisher in school work has resulted in a didactically responsible end product based on hard data. A Tilburg win-win!"

Perhaps even a "win-win-win. Because the traffic education package is also a nice crowning achievement for the Tilburg ecosystem MindLabs. Melis: "The method is really the product of a collaboration between Zwijsen and Interpolis. But MindLabs ensured that we came into contact with each other in the first place. After all, we ran into each other at a networking event organized by the ecosystem. That's how the ball got rolling. And as a result, many elementary school children can now hit the road much more safely and competently."

Investment in the future
Elementary school have been able to license virtual traffic lessons through for some time now. The necessary parties have also switched over. Although the corona situation threw a spanner in the works after a flying start with the product. And still the parties are noticing the effect. "Schools are currently catching up on primary curriculum. Because they lack time, all 'extra' activities - such as trying out alternative traffic education methods - are on the back burner for now," Stappaerts said.

"Incredibly unfortunate, but understable," is how she describes the situation. "For us, because we are very proud of what we developed together and want to introduce everyone to it as soon as possible. But certainly also for the schools themselves. Because although switching to another traffic method is a time investment, a product like WegWijsVR actually saves time in the long run. And the program can be fitted into a specific teacher's weekly schedule. If you were to go through it all at once, you would be through it in about 15 weeks. But you can also easily spread the teaching out over an entire school year. Just whatever works best in the schedules."

Trial at Risk Factory and at National Education Exhibition
After a 'too quiet period' a change is slowly but surely becoming visible, according to the partners. Melis: "Fortunately, we are seeing more and more room for other things; some much-needed air after a hectic time. For teachers and students it must be nice to be able to work with a fun and innovative method. So we are hopeful that many will start WegWijsVR soon."

In order to influence that chance a little favorably, a test setup of WegWijsVR will be present at the National Education Exhibition (NOT) in Utrecht in January 2023. This will allow school principals, teachers and ICT practitioners, among others, to experience very concretely from a number of exercise bikes how the system works. "And we entered into a cooperation with the safety region, as a result of which the same test setup is already at the Risk Factory in Geertruidenberg. There, elementary school students are part of all kinds of safety issues in a 3D environment, and have to act appropriately. In a room full of smoke, for example. Or when there is a virtual fire in the pan. But now also during tricky traffic situations. Stappaerts: "Those who have been there will have noticed: you simply absorb the material differently than when you only learn from a workbook."

Flexible deployment allows for quick turnaround
With their combination of activities, the partners hope to win over more decision-makers in the coming months. "And when the time comes, we will also be able to switch gears immediately," Stappaerts points out. "The program - unlike many other traffic methods - is purchasable at any time during the year. And you can start it whenever you want. So you're not tied to the start of a school year. Only advantages, in other words!"

Want more information about WegWijsVR, the workbooks, the accompanying dashboard or the results achieved with the method? You can find everything on