back to article Imperial bringing in budget holograms to teach students

Higher education has become a commercial market as students paying extortionate tuition fees demand more bang for their buck – so Imperial College London has decided to throw some holograms at them. In a bid to prove to undergrads that it’s just as “with it” as the money-sucking corporate entities that wheel out holographic- …

  1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    So, it's not a hologram?

    1. sorry, what?

      They just needed to Google "hologram"...

      @Aladdin Sane, absolutely right. What they have is a flat projection of an image captured by a lens and not a light field. There's no showing the object from a different aspect based on the viewer's position. It's just a variation on projected TV. Twats.

      (It's exactly the same BS marketing use of terms like AI.)

  2. steelpillow Silver badge

    Not a holagram after all

    Thank goodness, I was beginning to worry they might be drafting in Arnold Rimmer to teach me vending machine technology.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Not a holagram after all

      He's Arnold, Arnold, Arnold Rimmer.

      Without him life would be much grimmer.

      He's handsome, trim, and no-one slimmer.

      He will never need a zimmer.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next up: Hard light?

    In Imperial's case there is probably an argument for letting as many students as possible live as far out of London as possible. Accomodation and general living expenses are pretty eye-watering in central London if you are on a student budget. Also, rumour has it that some lecture theatres aren't always large enough for the number of students eligible (and, one supposes, expected) to attend. It's all very well letting universities compete for students on an open market but growth in numbers needs growth in facilities and that doesn't happen overnight. It's not surprising, then, that all the top universities are exploring ways of extending their geographical reach. It may not be long before they are all indistinguishable from the Open University.

    The sticking points are activities that require group participation or particular hardware or expert supervision. (Science practicals would be particularly challenging example.) I suppose you could sort that out by having a dedicated week or fortnight per term where a subset of your student population "moved in" for the period and did nothing else except the activity, before receding into the suburbs (or home) to complete the theoretical parts of the course on the cheap. Of course, you'd lose the "student experience" of unlimited booze, sex and mis-behaviour, but I don't suppose the policy-makers will be too sorry about that.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Next up: Hard light?

      The sticking points are activities that require group participation

      I don't recall any teaching on that at either school, college or uni - I've had a few group projects thrown at me at all three, but nobody knows how to work as a group.

      Closest to teaching communal constructive social interaction may have been PE at school where we were discourage in putting the boot in to any player who was on the ground.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I see no problem with holograms, it's not like the students are paying £9,250 per year each for the privilege. Though I'm guessing most of that goes on the £150,000 salary for the heads so anything to balance the books is a good thing.

    Education is getting more messed up by the day. Why can't the people in charge that want this country to prosper see that by making education out of reach we are going to become a joke or is that the plan?

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      "Education is getting more messed up by the day. Why can't the people in charge that want this country to prosper see that by making education out of reach we are going to become a joke or is that the plan?"

      The people in charge want themselves to prosper, and one of their definitions of success is being far better off than other people. So keeping the oiks down by denying them an education is a desired outcome.

    2. Ledswinger Silver badge

      it's not like the students are paying £9,250 per year each for the privilege.

      They most certainly are not.

      This is Imperial College Business School we're speaking about. Most of the courses will be postgraduate MBAs that have no state contribution to their costs. A one year full time face to face course is £52,000k. Even a poxy two year distance learning course is over £15k a year.

  5. VeganVegan

    Virtual lecturer and audience

    That dredged up a memory of long ago. During a lecture, a student who had to be absent got permission to put a cassette tape recorder (yes, that long ago) on the table in front of the room, to record the lecture.

    Next thing you know, other students started doing this, to avoid attending.

    They then decided to jibe the lecturer, by all of them skipping the lecture, so that the lecturer would be faced with a mass of recorders, and an empty room.

    Except that the lecturer got wind of this, and when the students arrived to set up their recorders, the lecturer had already put his cassette recorder on the table, with a note that said “Press Play to start the lecture”.

    1. Steve Knox Silver badge

      Re: Virtual lecturer and audience

      See also the "Falling" montage in the movie "Real Genius".

      1. Chozo

        Re: Real Genius

        A true geeks movie ;)

        Falling montage :

    2. Paul Johnston

      Re: Virtual lecturer and audience

      Manchester is very proud of its podcasts of lectures, very popular especially the 0915 ones I guess,

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    reserved for the business school

    The whole thing wreaks of a typical ivory towers PR stunt.

    Lets just say that well informed friends tell me that Imperial's Business School has never had a particularly stellar reputation and has certainly never been one of Imperial's finest establishments.

    One might cogitate as to whether this may be an attempt to keep the unwashed masses (students) quiet by getting them some higher quality lectures on the cheap (in relative terms).

    Higher grade international professors (especially of American descent) tend to come attached to demands for business class flights, per diems and such like. So a hologram could be a lot cheaper than the usual list of demands, especially if you get a license to use the recording multiple times.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: reserved for the business school

      It seems Imperial is just another modern style brand, modern style brands no longer stand for quality or unadulterated ingredients.

      I hear from past students, Imperial is not a place to learn or be taught, it just looks good on a CV.

      Ironically, Eric Laithwaite's TV lectures inspired me to apply to Imperial, but I did not make the cut.

  7. Milton Silver badge

    "much greater sense of [BS]"

    He did, however, attempt to justify the decision not to use tried-and-testing video-conferencing software by saying that these ‘holograms’ “have a much greater sense of presence”.

    Only yesterday we had some perfect idiot from Apple drivelling to the Guardian about how the iShiny Shops were really "town squares" (read it: it's hilarious shyte), and now we have someone else infected by marketurd-itis: the shameless ability to talk transparent crap in defending the indefensible.

    They're not holograms. They're not even Pepper's Ghost. They're not even particularly cleverly implemented, by modern standards. They add nothing to education. They don't help to convey information better, or even as well as, the presence of one of those rare birds, a good teacher.

    They are, in short, a facile gimmick.

    Try giving the students a variety of good text material, written with different perspectives and explaining things using different models, analogies and examples. Try giving them bi-weekly personal access in small numbers to really good tutors to help them through the thickets and monitor progress. Try giving them fortnightly lectures by serious experts who communicate well, inspire and motivate. Those with interest and ability will flourish.

    Finally, try ever so hard not to be tempted to 'cheap out' with third-rate YouTube presentations, murkily rendered pages askew from a printer, soul-deadening computerised 'learning', constant testing and hasty meetings with the cheapest tutors you could find.

    'Education' is derived from Latin meaning roughly 'to lead into the light'. This is done by real, competent, intelligent, inspiring people in close proximity to other intelligent and motivated people.

    Technology may offer cheap, lazy, superficially convincing ways of pretending to do the same thing ... but it isn't the same thing and mostly, it just does not work.

  8. SVV Silver badge

    Getting the managers of the future

    to pay lots of money for worthless tat and gimmickry, using a risibly cheap and tacky version of an already shit idea seems to me the perfect preparation for a 21st century career in the higher echelons of a world drenched in crappy technological hype.

  9. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Jeremy Bentham

    Does this mean he won't have to attend UCL meetings any more?

  10. The other JJ

    Appropriate that it should be Imperial

    While the whole thing smacks of a publicity stunt at the time of year when sixth-formers are honing their UCCA selection, it would be appropriate for Imperial to be first as holography was invented there by Prof. Dennis Gabor, a senior lecturer and research fellow. I was privileged to attend one of the last lectures he gave in retirement.

    As to Eric Laithwaite, it can't have escaped his notice that his undergraduate lectures were attended by far more students than were registered for his modules, including some from different departments, but he never seem to mind.

  11. Roq D. Kasba


    There's no more to say

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