Welcome to the classroom of the future. This hasn’t happened overnight, it started with online classes. Pre-recorded lectures that students could download and listen to at their leisure. Then there are places like Yale where they offer classes with live video conferencing, but at the Harvard Business School, they have introduced HBX Live: a virtual classroom.
So, how does it work? Well, the lectures take place two miles away from campus in a television studio where a professor is recorded by a television crew at different angles. In studio, the professor faces a digital screen that has a live feed of students from around the world.
“We’re trying to create a constant energy as well as feed off what the professor says,” said Peter Shaffery, technical director of the project.
The main perk of the HBX Live is that students from around the world can tune in to lectures from the comfort of their own homes, but there are many other interactive features of the Virtual Classroom. The professor is able to hold an online poll, and with a touch of a button get back live results from the students. Students can ask questions live and participate in classroom debates.
Harvard isn’t the only one jumping on the virtual trend. The University of California offers its own virtual reality classroom, similar to a video game scenario, where students can move around. “My current project involves safety on a building site,” said virtual education expert Inge Knudsen. “Students can walk around in the virtual environment and take pictures of places that are not safe. This is a case that is not possible in real life and therefore highly suited for virtual worlds.”
Learning experiences will be widely enhanced. U of C’s Virtual Reality teaching will allow students access to “real world” experience from the safety of their own classrooms. Harvard’s HBX Live will allow students from around the world to participate in lectures. This new virtual classroom technology will allow students from around the world to access high quality education at world class institutions. And this is only the starting point, as virtual reality technology evolves and innovates, the possibilities are virtually endless.