Bringing mixed reality to immersive education

Datacom demonstrates the classrooms of the future

Pearson is the largest education company in the world, providing high impact education products, from text books to digital courseware for education and training providers.

Pearson is currently engaged in a major digital transformation of its business in response to changes in the education marketplace. Pearson recently created a global division, Pearson Immersive, to focus solely on the use of immersive technology (AR, VR, and 360 video) to transform education.

The launch of Microsoft’s HoloLens device in 2016 created new possibilities in learning outcomes, allowing students to see and interact with truly immersive 3D content in their physical space.

Microsoft’s HoloLens combines aspects of virtual reality and augmented reality, by superimposing digital 3D holograms and 360-degree spatial sound onto the real world. The result is what Microsoft calls mixed reality; an experience that seamlessly merges digital content into the real world, and allows viewers to learn and discover content by walking around virtual objects in the real world, and interacting with them.

Pearson announced its partnership with Microsoft shortly after the HoloLens launch, to bring mixed reality content on the HoloLens for use at universities, and secondary schools.

“Until now, we've been teaching the same way we have for the past 30 years. We have newer technology tools, but the teaching process is the same. The mobile revolution made text material readable on more devices and more convenient, but it hasn't been transformative.”

Mark Christian, Global Director of Pearson Immersive

Christian argues that using holographic imagery and 3D modelling, combined with the power of augmented or mixed reality, creates a new way to leverage the best of traditional classroom teaching.

The first two use cases focused on medical/ nursing education, and high school education. 

For the medical application, the ability to immerse nursing students in real life diagnosis of medical conditions was nearly impossible without the use of a real patient. Some education providers went to the extent of hiring professional actors to enact a medical case.

For high school education, Pearson and Datacom co-developed five applications that support different subjects in the school curriculum: chemistry, mathematics, history, health, and economics. These applications underwent trials with three high schools in Australia and New Zealand. There was a clear uplift in student engagement with the use of the technology,  but also with their ability to share their 3D content in real time with other students in their classroom, as well as the teacher. This didn’t only further the learning outcomes, but it created a collaborative learning environment where students can discuss what they’re seeing, building, and learning with others in the class.

Pearson and Datacom are now co-developing the first version of the commercial products that will be available for educational institutions to purchase in 2018.

Pearson chose Datacom as its partner for  running the trials and developing the product because of Datacom’s end-to-end technology services offering, which enabled Pearson to focus on creating content and experiences that transform learning outcomes, Datacom delivered and supported a complete technology platform that facilitates the uptake of emerging technology in the education market.