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8 classroom uses for holographic technology

By Team ISTE
January 22, 2015
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Eliciting engagement and creating excitement among learners is every educator's raison d'tre. One emerging technology, still in its infancy but moving quickly toward classroom application, are holograms.

As you may recall from science class — or your favorite sci-fi film — holograms are 3D images formed by light beams from a laser or other coherent light source. The multi-dimensional appearance results from the interference pattern of two beams reflecting an object.

Tech companies — and educators — are already imagining ways holographic technology can be used to engage learners in a real-world environment. This week, Microsoft introduced Windows Holographic, which, when paired with the company's HoloLens augmented reality headset, will allow users to see and interact with 3D images.

While there is no release date for the products yet, what many found impressive about HoloLens and Windows Holographic was the compelling, real-life uses presented at the launch this week. Think software-guided surgeries, team collaboration on product design, home repairs directed by remote experts and fully immersive video gaming.

On the education front, holographic technology will add vibrancy to the learning process and just might entice students to look further into topics they are passionate about.

It's not hard to imagine the potential educational applications for holographic technology:

  1. Remote collaboration. Students work with other students, teachers or experts worldwide in what feels like face-to-face interaction. Holographic tech will take videoconferencing to a physical level.
  2. Simulate science. Holograms could allow students to conduct science experiments that would be too dangerous, too expensive or too difficult to perform in real life.
  3. Experience history. Students could tour historical sites in 3D and have their questions answered by a hologram. Virtual field trips would allow entire classrooms to see and hear (and maybe one day even smell) a Tudor castle or a national park or a museum.
  4. Educational gaming. Imagine Minecraft in 3D. Gaming would become truly immersive and would allow students to interact with the environments they create.
  5. 3D designing. Students in classrooms or makerspaces could complete a design project in three dimensions and then print it on a 3D printer.
  6. Extend teacher reach. Instructors could deliver lessons and lectures to multiple classrooms, across the globe, simultaneously.
  7. Motor skill development. After testing for motor skill development using holographic technology, scientists could analyze the data to create software to improve motor skills for students with muscular or coordination difficulties. 
  8. Teach employment skills. Taking career tech education into the 21st century, holograms could train students how to do job-related tasks in vocational fields of interest.