Saïd Business School, University of Oxford has opened a new virtual classroom – the first of its type in the UK and only the second in the world.
Named the Oxford Hub for International Virtual Education (HIVE), it is a physical space that takes the appearance of a high tech conference facility, with 27 high definition screens that form a U shape in a seminar room. However, the technology – developed and installed by SyncRTC, and operated by their Mashme.io software – is far more sophisticated than a traditional conferencing platform. It employs robotics, facial recognition technology and 4D high definition projections to create a uniquely immersive learning and teaching experience.
In the Oxford HIVE, class leaders can engage with up to 84 participants, who can access the session via Mashme.io. The technology is fully interactive; the teacher can address the participants individually, split them into groups and conduct real time polls, and participants can see and hear one another. The software also monitors the level of attentiveness in each individual, which it judges and scores based on their facial expressions and engagement with the class.
‘This is an exciting development for our School’s digital agenda,’ said Mark Bramwell, Chief Information Officer. ‘The Oxford HIVE will be employed for a variety of uses – from classes to ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitching competitions. However, we are particularly excited about its potential to enhance our programme portfolio by allowing busy students to connect with teachers and fellow students from anywhere in the world.’
Peter Tufano, Peter Moores Dean at Saïd Business School, commented: ‘While the Oxford experience is an integral part of our approach, the methods by which we teach and learn are changing. At Oxford Saïd we’ve been making decisive investments so we can learn about new pedagogies. The Oxford HIVE will allow us to teach, learn and share ideas as a global community, and we see it as a crucial tool to unite our global community in support of our mission to tackle world scale challenges. It will also allow our alumni to reassemble virtually as if here in Oxford. In a hive, bees work to make honey. At the Oxford HIVE, we will work to build knowledge.’
If you are interested in hiring our new facility, please contact Mark Bramwell on 01865 2885000.