Some universities in the UK are beginning to enter a new era of utilizing unique technology to teach its students. The technology in question involves holograms, the same holograms that have been used to bring back retired or dead singers to the stage; like Tupac at the 2012 Coachella music festival.
Instead of performing hit songs, these particular holograms will be notable historical / cultural figures that align with the specific class their teaching. For example, physics students could get a lecture from Albert Einstein or a masterclass in design from Coco Chanel herself, according to reports from Rachel Hall of The Guardian.
Loughborough University in London is the first in Europe to explore this new avenue of technology and learning. The university is specifically planning on using holograms to bring sports scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to teach fashion students about the intricacies of immersive shows. Loughborough University is also planning to have the sports scientists teach students in management how to navigate various business endeavors and situations.
Professor Vikkie Locke, the director of undergraduate studies at Loughborough’s business school, told the Guardian that the students love the technology, especially since they’ve grown accustomed to having classes on their computers and joining lectures through a screen.
“[The students prefer] a guest speaker from an industry beaming into a classroom to a 2D person on a wall. [Classes on Zoom made students] feel like they were watching TV, there’s a distance. A holographic image is a lot more engaging and real to them.”
After this initial year of experimentation, the technology is set to be officially introduced into the curriculum in 2025. The holographic technology and units used are from LA-based company Proto, who also has clients like BT and IBM. Proto has also been known to work with popular clothing retailers to make interactive product displays for customers.
David Nussbaum founded Proto four years ago, and stated that the company could soon be bringing some of the best thinkers from the 20th century back from the dead.
“Proto has the technology to project an image of Stephen Hawking, or anybody, and make it look like he’s really there. We can hook it up to books, lectures, social media – anything he was attached to, any question, any interaction with him. An AI Stephen Hawking would look like him, sound like him and interact like it was him,” he stated.
“It’s awe-inspiring, it’s jaw-dropping, I’ve been in shock at how amazing the interactions are. AI is part of our life, whether people like it or not. You shouldn’t have to be an eccentric millionaire or a celebrity to have a hologram.”
“Different immersive technologies and AI are the new forms of literacy. Students need to understand what it means to use those, to be in those worlds, to experience them, to interact … and these are all things they’re going to need for their future careers,” said Professor Gary Burnett, who teaches digital creativity at Loughborough University.
The university’s pro-vice-chancellor, Prof Rachel Thomson, said the “technology could help the university achieve its sustainability strategy by reducing the need to fly in guest speakers and by facilitating international research collaborations, as well as by reducing the amount of material used by students building prototypes in engineering, design and the creative arts.”
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.