BEIRUT—Using virtual reality and other innovative technologies, a 21-year-old Lebanese medical student, Bryan Youssef, has developed a platform that has helped him and many others pass qualifying exams for medical and other professional schools.
The dream of graduating from the medical school of Saint Joseph University of Beirut and becoming a doctor was the driving force behind Youssef’s creation of the innovative learning platform, called Edubolt.
Youssef founded Edubolt three years ago during his first year of medical school and is now running it with the help of fellow students.
“At school I was a bad student and I was stigmatised by my teachers,” Youssef told al-Fanar Media. “For them, not being successful in school means that you will not succeed in life. However, I had a dream that I wanted to achieve.”
For Youssef, passing the medical school’s tough entrance exam was a major challenge. “I prepared in my own way by watching videos on YouTube, using virtual reality, and reading research articles. It was an innovative way of learning that suited me, and it paid off, as I passed the competition and ranked 14th among many candidates,” he said.
Gaining Experience in Teaching
Before establishing the Edubolt platform, Youssef gave private lessons to high school students using his non-traditional way of teaching. “The use of videos, power point presentations, animations and interactive learning proved to be more attractive and motivating for students,” he said.
“I prepared in my own way by watching videos on YouTube, using virtual reality, and reading research articles. It was an innovative way of learning that suited me, and it paid off, as I passed the competition and ranked 14th among many candidates.”Bryan Youssef A medical student and developer of Edubolt
As the number of his private students increased, Youssef started recruiting “teachers” among his fellow university students and training them in his teaching methods. He then established Edubolt, mainly offering preparatory sessions for the entrance exams for Saint Joseph University’s medical, dentistry and pharmacy schools.
He later expanded the platform to include preparatory courses for the entrance exam to the Lebanese University’s medical school, standard university entrance exams such as the SAT, and English-language tests like TOEFL and IELTS, as well as language courses. Sessions can be online or face-to-face.
Youssef says the platform’s motto is to make education fun, fair and accessible to all.
“When I started the platform, we were 11 students giving the sessions,” Youssef said. “Today we are 121 providing this service on a freelance basis.”
Most of the teachers are medical students, he said, “but we also prepare for other majors, including business administration and finance, economy, sociology, and graphic design. We are trying to cover all the needs in Lebanon as well as in neighbouring countries where we are offering our services.”
Edubolt, representing Lebanon and Saint Joseph University, came in third at the recent “StartCup Competition 2022,” a contest for entrepreneurial ideas developed by students of universities in countries around the Mediterranean. The competition is jointly organised by UniMed and the Lebanese University, the coordinating institution on UniMed’s Subnetwork on Employability.
Positive Reviews from Students
Several students who have used Edubolt told Al-Fanar Media it helped them a lot.
Nour Faour, age 18, was recently admitted to Saint Joseph University’s school of dentistry after using Edubolt for preparatory sessions.
“It was a very good experience that helped me both academically and mentally,” she said. “Having access to trained medical students who had actually passed the test and know what they are talking about was vital for me to pass.”
A highlight of her experience with Edubolt was the mock entrance exam (concours blanc), Faour said.
“It helped us prepare smoothly and tame our nerves. We went to the actual exam fully prepared and knowing what to expect. … In fact many questions were similar to the questions in the mock test.,” Faour said.
“As a medical student, studying anatomy was like a nightmare, but with the help of virtual reality I could travel through the human body, the arteries, the muscles, the different organs. This made learning much easier and more interesting.”Bryan Youssef
For Brian Arnaout, age 18, getting accepted by the university’s medical school was thrilling. He ranked third in the entrance competition, after Edubolt’s preparatory sessions.
Arnaout said he came across Edubolt on Instagram by chance. After “liking” the page, he was contacted by the platform’s team asking him, “How can we help you?”
“I took the sessions 10 days before the exam. Their way of teaching was innovative and totally different from what we were used to at school. It was very interactive and inclusive,” he said.
Like Faour, Arnaout underlined the importance of the mock test.
“It was the greatest push for succeeding, because one lives the test experience in the same method, same duration and same conditions. It also helped us sit for the actual test with more self-confidence. … I believe that I would not have passed if it wasn’t for Edubolt’s experience,” Arnaout said.
Goals Beyond Edubolt
Youssef said more than 60 percent of candidates who use Edubolt to prepare for the medical and dentistry school entrance exams at Saint Joseph University are successful.
But his aspirations go beyond Edubolt. His ultimate goal is to integrate virtual reality into the education system.
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“As a medical student, studying anatomy was like a nightmare, but with the help of virtual reality I could travel through the human body, the arteries, the muscles, the different organs. This made learning much easier and more interesting. This method could be applied to all subjects,” he said.
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