Zoom who? Higher ed is going holographic

Beaming in guest lecturers from across the world might become the new normal for students.

If you’ve ever tried to pay attention to a Zoom lecture projected onto a whiteboard, you know how brutal it can be. (If you haven’t, count your blessings, and put down that grad school application.)

Blue glowing outlines of a crowd of people over an open hardcover book.

But at Loughborough University in England, learning might become — gasp — engaging again. The university is experimenting with holograms in the classroom, ushering in a new, high-tech teaching tool, per The Guardian.

The tech allows individuals to beam in from anywhere in the world using their smartphones, appearing life-sized and in real time inside a hologram box in a classroom across the world.

This solves a host of problems for higher-ed institutions:

  • It’s more sustainable than flying guest lecturers in for short speaking engagements.
  • Holograms can be more effective for showcasing complex, 3D equipment than traditional video calls.

The university says it plans to use the tech to have scientists from MIT — all the way in Cambridge, Massachusetts — teach its fashion students about immersive shows and run business students through exercises.

The tech is still being tested, and will be officially added to the school’s curriculum in 2025.

Holo promises

The life-sized holograms are produced by Los Angeles-based Proto, which also supplies its tech to companies like IBM (to reduce travel needs) and H&M (for interactive product displays).

And Proto has another, less expected business priority: resurrecting the dead.

The hologram box could display an image of a deceased celeb and train AI on their books, lectures, and social media, allowing users to interact with them in real time.

While beaming in holographic lecturers to teach freshmen might seem like a novelty, the tech is here to stay in education. Just this month, Arizona State University became the first higher-ed institution to partner with OpenAI.

Get ready to say, “Back in my day, the teacher rolled in a TV and VCR on a cart.”

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