How The University of Southern California Keeps Pushing The Boundaries Of Digital Education

Imagine a world where educators could beam across the world directly into classrooms, where all students are in the front row, interacting with the lecturer and the topic in an engaging way. Holograms bring this possibility to life, allowing for remote communication that is just as life-size and in-person as being physically present. 

The globally renowned University of Southern California recently introduced holograms to its digital program — and raised the bar for modern universities everywhere. This leading private research university in the heart of Los Angeles is an international hub for arts, technology, and business. USC’s dynamic and diverse range of course offerings encourages interdisciplinary study and collaboration with distinguished researchers, creating a highly advanced learning environment where students can thrive.

USC’s Creative Hub: Digital Creative Lab 

The world of technology has exploded over the past few years, with college-aged students flocking to eSports, gaming development, and augmented and virtual reality. The ITS Learning Environments team decided to take the USC digital programs to the next level and launched the Digital Creative Lab (DCL), a state-of-the-art facility providing a welcoming space for creators to explore and innovate in the digital realm. Thanks to cutting-edge technology and experienced mentors, students can find everything they need to experiment, design, and develop their ideas.

The Digital Creative Lab offers a wide range of services that cater to modern students’ needs, from designing their own video games to producing high-quality videos for events. There are 3D printing facilities and digital signage displays for showcasing the latest ideas and content. Plus, with the introduction of an NFT Gallery Space, USC students can now proudly display their own digital art right on campus. The Digital Creative Lab is truly a haven for creativity and innovation, and it’s the perfect place for students to explore their passions and hone their digital skills.

The Challenges In The COVID Aftermath

In the aftermath of COVID, many educational institutions, including USC, faced new challenges. Low alumni activation and engagement, the interaction between instructors and students, attracting and retaining new students, offering unique programs, focusing on sustainability…the list is extensive, forcing faculties to look beyond traditional solutions and try out virtual methods to keep pace in the fast-changing educational environment. To tackle this challenge, USC and its Digital Creative Lab decided to test out holographic technology. 

Holograms are more than just eye-catching—they’re an effective tool for improving student engagement and comprehension. By presenting information in stunning 3D, holograms make it easier for students to understand complex concepts and retain them for longer. Unlike traditional display solutions, holograms reduce cognitive load and provide an intuitive, immersive experience that leaves a lasting impact on students.

Bringing Immersive Experiences Into The Classrooms

Effective communication involves more than just words – the subtle cues of body language and facial expressions create a sense of connection and understanding. This is especially important in the learning process, where engaging with the material is key to retention and success. And as digital natives, Millennials and Gen Z students have a distinct learning style that demands new approaches to education, with attention-grabbing digital content that keeps them engaged and motivated to learn. 

Whether teaching remotely as a hologram or using a solution like ARHT CAPSULE in their classroom, holograms allow students to connect with their teachers on a whole new level, being able to see their full facial expressions, body movements, and gestures. Unlike more traditional 2D communications platforms, holographic technology is proven to increase understanding of complex concepts. And for instructors, incorporating dynamic high-resolution 3D images into their presentations helps to create a more engaging learning environment. 

Joe Way, Director of Learning Environments at USC, confirms this: “The ARHT hologram technology has significantly impacted the use of our revolutionary Digital Creative Lab by enhancing the learning experience and inviting collaboration. This capability provides a more immersive learning experience, making it easier for students to visualize complex concepts and understand them better. It improves student learning by creating interactive experiences in a realistic way. Students learn better when they know the content is aimed at them, making the learning experience both fun and engaging.”

Adding More Essence To Remote Learning With ARHT CAPSULE 

Thanks to CAPSULE, USC completely transformed how students not only interact with instructors and each other but also how they grasp complex subjects. “ARHT CAPSULE allows students to experience real-world scenarios in a controlled environment. For example, medical students can explore surgical procedures on a holographic 3D model before going into the medical room, allowing them to learn and make mistakes without the risk of harming a patient. Last, our students find that creating content is an incredible way to develop the practical application of the principles they are learning in the classroom. The ability for students to own their educational experience in a creative way makes for better cognitive learning and improved student satisfaction,” explains Joe.

ARHT CAPSULE offers three different options, each very useful in the learning environment:

  • Live streaming: Attract the students’ attention in a more active way, improving overall engagement with the topic. 
  • Pre-recorded content: Loop any content while ARHT CAPSULE is idling, or use the pre-recorded option to share information and provide updates. 
  • 3D touch interactive screen: Deliver captivating content and dynamic 3D presentations and invite students to interact with different elements to understand the topic better.

“The ARHT CAPSULE sits at the main entrance of this one-of-a-kind Digital Creative Lab and serves as a welcome canvas that we can use to create specific messaging depending on the event or messaging from USC Leadership. The ability of the ARHT CAPSULE to bring to life the messengers via its hologram technology is unparalleled. If they say a picture is worth a thousand words, then video, especially holographic, is worth many thousands more,” adds Raj Singh, Manager of AV/IT Design & Engineering at the University of Southern California. 

Fast Forward Into The Greener Future

Integrating holograms in education benefits the environment by promoting sustainability, offering a cost-effective solution, and providing greater accessibility for students globally. Students can now learn from a broader range of experts without the constraints of geographical boundaries. This approach enhances the overall ROI while delivering a dynamic educational environment for both lecturers and students. Universities can also record lectures and create extensive content libraries for students and researchers alike. “With hologram technology, our students can now access educational content from instructors located anywhere around the world. This is especially useful for distance learning and enables students to access subject matter experts who may not be available in their local area,” says Joe. 

Chancellors, Provosts, and professors can give lectures and speeches while having live conversations with all of their campuses locally, regionally, and globally, concurrently, via a hologram without having to travel to each location individually, saving not just travel-related expenses but time and resources too. This groundbreaking technology truly merges the realms of digital and physical interaction, creating endless possibilities for communication and collaboration. Whether it’s used in a hybrid fashion or combining in-person and online experiences, thanks to holograms, groups of students and colleagues can connect in real-time in any other part of the world, expanding the experience beyond the location and broadening the learning opportunities. 

Gaining A Competitive Edge

When it comes to attracting the brightest and most ambitious students, it’s vital to stand out from the crowd. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of institutions vying for their attention. But what if you could use technology to create a truly immersive experience for potential prospects? Well, that’s precisely what forward-thinking institutions like USC are doing by investing in holographic display technology. Not only does this demonstrate an innovative approach, but it can also elevate your school to the top of students’ wish lists. 

Holograms have the power to revolutionize how we teach and learn, enabling immersive learning, active collaboration, and engaging information-sharing. By replacing flat 2D lectures with dynamic learning experiences, holograms help stimulate genuine human connection and interaction in a digital environment. Students, faculty, and administrators can establish a profound emotional link. Integrated into both traditional and hybrid classrooms, holograms can boast an array of benefits, such as enhancing learning outcomes, drawing and retaining students, and supporting sustainability and innovation. 

USC is a case in point of how to embrace innovative communication tools and help pave the way for students to become tomorrow’s skilled and competitive workforce. As we embrace the possibility of an ever-expanding technological horizon, learning has never been more thrilling or futuristic. This is the new era of holographic education!

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