UT-Austin McCombs School of Business implements holographic professors

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Catenya Mchenry | Daily Texan Staff

The McCombs School of Business has partnered with Austin-based company Contextual Content Group to project “holographic professors” into classrooms to make digital learning better for students, according to a UT press release

The platform, called Recourse, creates  3D holograms and streams a high-resolution image of the professor teaching live from a remote studio. Students can view the holograph while attending class in person or over Zoom. At UT, Recourse has been implemented in accounting professor Steve Limberg’s executive MBA class, and there are plans for expansion, according to the press release.  

“We knew some technologies existed that could give people a more ‘live’ experience,” said Joe Stephens, senior assistant dean and director of working professional and executive MBA programs at the McCombs School of Business. “It became apparent that with a combination of these technologies, thoughtfully designed, we could bring together a much more realistic in-person experience.”

Stephens said he wanted an idea that could keep faculty and students as safe as possible. 

“(Recourse) will help keep professors safe and focused on teaching while enhancing both the in-classroom and online/virtual learning environments,” said Jim Spencer, Contextual Content Group chairman and CEO. “(Recourse will be) greatly increasing student-to-professor and student-to-student engagement levels.”

 

Spencer said Zoom is only a part of the solution when it comes to online learning. 

“Recourse was created and optimized to increase the interaction and learning exchange between professors and students and offer them a choice,” Spencer said. “Recourse offers a device-free learning option, a full-body hologram of a professor and range of communications features.”

Limberg said in the press release that Recourse is an authentic experience in his classroom. 

“I can see all the gestures and the nuances that students are expressing, whether it be raising a hand or nodding,” Limberg said in the press release. “As a result, it really is very much like being right here in the classroom.”

Katarina Ramos, a speech-language pathology sophomore, said she sees Recourse as a cool opportunity to immerse students in new media. 

“It would probably be a better or easier option for the professors,” Ramos said. “If the idea is implemented (into my classes) right now, I would still prefer to attend online classes to keep my health out of risk. If implemented outside of the pandemic, I think it would be a great idea.”