August 6, 2019 – The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan (Michigan Ross) has announced that it will develop a virtual classroom by utilizing mixed-reality technology in its new Digital Education Studio. This fall, the inaugural cohort of students in the Ross School of Business Online MBA Program, which includes live, synchronous classes, will be the first to experience the SmartStage system designed by London-based White Light Ltd.
SmartStage will enable Michigan Ross to offer the same collaborative, educational experience to students taking online courses as is found in on-campus programs. Ross faculty members are able to see and engage with students in a natural way in an immersive 3D environment. Students can see and engage with their faculty and classmates In real-time, all of whom are visible and can engage with each other. The School anticipates that this 3D immersive environment will help create a real and meaningful connection between faculty and students, encourage interaction and dialogue during live class sessions, and elevate student focus and engagement throughout a course.
“We wanted to create a highly engaging learning environment that would connect students with faculty members and their peers, and provide a more natural teaching space for professors who are engaging virtually with students from around the world,” said Scott DeRue, Edward J. Frey Dean of the Ross School of Business. “The SmartStage by White Light is an innovative technology that achieves both of these goals, and is one of many steps Ross is taking to transform our world-renowned business education to thrive in a digital world.”
In addition to using the Digital Education Studio for its online MBA program, Michigan Ross is adding more enhanced learning opportunities via technology across all its degree programs and executive education partnerships with companies around the globe. The school is also developing a technology infrastructure to support these efforts.
Michigan Ross is the first academic institution to utilize White Light’s SmartStage, a technology originally developed for broadcast television as an alternative to a green screen.
“White Light is excited to bring our SmartStage to the Ross School of Business and help them take distance learning to the next level by creating natural and engaging experiences,” said Andy Hook, White Light’s Technical Solutions director. “Our technology enables an intuitive teaching environment that allows faculty to be themselves and makes students feel part of the space and included in classroom discussions.”
The technology behind SmartStage was originally conceived to support creative teams in the live events industry. White Light unveiled elements of the SmartStage system to millions of viewers at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea and the 2018 FIFA Football World Cup in Russia.
Michigan Ross will work with White Light to update the SmartStage content to meet the needs of its growing digital offerings for undergraduate, graduate, and executive education programs.
Image credit: White Light Ltd.
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Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past five years.