Hologram technology: transforming integrated learning across international campuses

“The benefits hologram learning can bring to classrooms cannot be overstated”

At HEC Paris in Qatar, we are sensitive to the demand for learning beyond traditional methods – for it to be more effective, efficient, and impactful. That is why we recently deployed holographic technology, helping achieve seamless integrated learning across international campuses.

This creates a novel teaching model for today, and for the future metaverse – fit for fighting the so called ‘conference call’ fatigue.

What is hologram technology and what’s its place in education?

3D livestream technologies create an immersive solution, which can combine in-person and virtual teaching seamlessly by projecting real-time videos into the classroom. Rivalling technologies such as Zoom and equivalent which are not as engaging; holography projections create a more realistic experience – giving the look and feel like guests are there in real life, without latency.

Using this technology, we have welcomed speakers from our Paris campus to join seminars and lectures in Doha – giving participants the opportunity to gain international perspective on their studies, on a regular basis. It also allows us to welcome world-class experts on specific topics, which increase the quality of our content.

Why integrate hologram tech into your teaching?

The benefits hologram learning can bring to classrooms cannot be overstated. By streaming real-time hologram videos of a lecturer in another country, institutions can enrich learning by giving participants access to the world’s best lecturers from the comfort of their usual campus. This expands the quality of our teaching, hearing from those we may not otherwise invite, as it would be economically unfeasible and environmentally irresponsible. 

The way hologram technology can remove barriers to education is particularly important for participants who are unable to travel abroad to learn. Whether participants are held back due to socioeconomic, political or physical reasons, hologram learning can broaden access to diverse education. Like any other technology, this is not a “silver bullet” that solves all problems but it does provide very interesting possibilities that it would be foolish to ignore.

From a sustainability perspective – hologram technology is a great way to provide an immersive experience without contributing to the carbon emissions associated with air travel.

But what are the barriers to adoption?

It is probably the least adopted form of virtual learning that we have at present – having only been integrated in lecture-format in a handful of universities around the world, including Imperial College London being the first of its kind back in 2018, and HEC Paris after in 2020.

Costs attached to this method of virtual learning are expensive and it is undeniable that work is needed to increase accessibility. When looking to adopt hologram technology in their teaching, universities must evaluate the operating costs and ensure they have the infrastructure to support it – in particular  good broadband, which is not a problem in the State of Qatar but could be elsewhere. This also highlights an increased need for resource sharing across learning entities, where different departments can benefit from the same equipment.

There is also the risk of push-back from participants if the technology were to be integrated too heavily into the teaching approach. There is an expectation that a significant part of teaching is done in-person, and at a high quality. Nothing can ever replace the value that face-to-face teaching brings to the learning experience and universities must be cautious to not rely solely on hologram teaching, or any form of virtual lecturing for that matter. Technology must be used as a facilitator to integrated learning, supporting in-person lectures as opposed to replacing them.

The future of cross-campus learning

Despite challenges, hologram technology offers exciting prospects for a global learning experience where education can be shared instantaneously and without borders.

Looking forwards, we are also seeing the integration of hologram technology elsewhere in education – most recently at Cambridge University where holographic patients are being used to train medical student. Although the technology is not the most widely accessible, with the escalation of new developments, educators must be open to an increased and more widespread adoption of the tech in their classrooms and the potential it holds for cross-campus learning.  Very soon, everything that can be, will be made digital, and higher education institutions should actively play a role in that transformation.

About the author: Dr. Pablo Martin de Holan is the Dean of HEC Paris in Qatar where he also teaches strategy and entrepreneurship. His research explores the different dimensions of knowledge creation in organizations and the relation between them and sustainable competitive advantage, both in established organizations and in startups. His publications explore the problems that emerge when organizations try to implement their strategic decisions and change processes and the solutions that can be implemented.