[This story includes detailed descriptions of the design process for a new high-end ‘virtual’ classroom and quotes from students using it that indicate it’s effective at evoking presence; the story is from Fortune and includes two more pictures. –Matthew]
[Image: Strategy professor Bharat Anand leads a session in Harvard Business School’s new virtual classroom. Photograph Courtesy Harvard Business School]
Harvard Business School really has created the classroom of the future
Whether they’re in Beijing, Warsaw, or San Francisco, every student in Harvard’s HBX Live! virtual classroom now sits front and center.
By John A. Byrne
August 25, 2015
(Poets&Quants) — The day’s Harvard Business School case study poses a simple question: Is Uber really worth $50 billion?
Bharat Anand, a Harvard strategy professor, provokes a lively discussion between the 42% of the class that believes the private car and ride share service is worth its sky high valuation and the remaining members of the class who essentially argue that the company’s market value is largely the result of over-enthusiastic investors.
“This has all the elements of a bubble,” sums up Anand. “There is competition and regulatory challenges coming down the pike, and there doesn’t seem much that is really unique here except for the network effects.”
A typical HBS class? Not exactly.
There are no students present in the classroom. The session isn’t being held in one of the buildings on the HBS campus. Instead, Anand is teaching the case in a virtual classroom housed in the facility of public broadcaster WGBH, roughly a ten-minute ride from school.
This is Harvard Business School’s classroom of the future, a high-ceilinged broadcast studio designed to reproduce the intimacy and energy of the school’s case method teaching in a digital environment. One person carries a roaming camera on her shoulder, capturing Anand in action. Another production staffer insures that the audio from the live feed of participants is as loud and clear as if each person was in the room.
Anand, meantime, faces the images of 60 students portrayed on a curved screen in front of him, a high-resolution video wall composed of more than 6.2 million pixels that mimics the amphitheater-style seating of a class HBS tiered classroom. Because each image is two feet wide and two-and-one-half feet long, there is no sky deck, or top back row in the class. Essentially everyone sits front and center, whether they reside in Beijing, Warsaw, Prague, Miami, San Francisco, or Toronto. Read more on Harvard’s HBX Live! virtual classroom: All 60 students sit front and center…