On the evening of 1st November 2018 students at Imperial College gathered in the main atrium of our South Kensington campus in London to attend what would later be described by media outlets as the ‘world’s first live hologram lecture’.
Our ‘Women in Tech’ event invited a number of prominent women in the industry to share their experiences of working in the technology sector. But this wasn’t any ordinary talk. While some of our speakers appeared on-stage in person, our other speakers featured in an altogether different form: as holograms. First up, beaming in from Los Angeles as a 3D life-size representation was Google’s Marily Nika. Not only could Marily speak freely to the attendees but she could also see them and talk back to them in real-time. To further blend realities we rounded off the event by hosting a live debate using both ‘real’ speakers on stage in London and speakers ‘beamed in’ from New York. All participants were able to interact on-stage as they normal would – even though geographically they were an ocean apart.
The event marked the beginning of our pilot study into the use of holograms in an educational setting. The purpose of the study is to identify the strengths and potentials of holograms as an effective tool in higher education. As technology evolves, the advent of digital technologies has provided education practitioners with opportunities to explore innovative use of technology. Some of the latest technologies revolutionise the delivery of education, allowing access to higher education for greater numbers of students and with more flexibility. For example, Webinar, Teleconference, Podcast, and Video-based lectures allow both faculty and students to have more flexibility in terms of fitting in their time management and lifestyle. This pilot looks to see how holograms can similarly revolutionise delivery of live seminars as an effective means for enhancing students’ learning experience.
So what’s next for our hologram technology at Imperial College? While we’re not looking to replace or reduce real-life lecturers, we do believe that the technology has the potential to create a more flexible and inspiring learning experience for our students. Based on our own research, students’ attitudes toward the use of holograms are very positive in general. Students felt seminars delivered through holograms were enjoyable, and the use of holograms can enhance engagement with lecturers because of the reality of teaching presence. The study also suggests that the effectiveness of the use of holograms can offer ample opportunities to faculty (including ‘star educators’) who’d be able to teach students from diverse locations simultaneously.
I hope this talk can stimulate discussion and reflections on effective use of holograms in teaching and learning with appropriate pedagogical approach. I also hope to share lessons we’ve learned so far in terms of good practice in use of holograms. The technology has already taken the entertainment sector by storm ushering in an age where performers such as Taylor Swift can appear on multiple stages simultaneously across the world. What about our own superstars of education?
Hologram’ lecturers to teach students at Imperial College London. [online] BBC News. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-46060381 [Accessed 12.03.19]
Students to be taught by ‘holograms’ at Imperial College London. [online] The Telegraph. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2018/11/02/students-taught-holograms-imperial-college-london/ [Accessed 12.03.19]
Students attend ‘world’s first’ live hologram lecture at Imperial College London. [online] The Irish News. Available at: https://www.irishnews.com/magazine/technology/2018/11/02/news/students-attend-world-s-first-live-hologram-lecture-at-imperial-college-london-1475439/ [Accessed 12.03.19]