Hologram to teach classes of the future;News;News and opinion

10th December 1999 at 00:00
TEACHER'S log. Stardate, 2005: "Teleported" myself into a classroom in the Lake District today, for a GCSE lesson on medieval English history.

If this sounds like science fiction, think again: the virtual teacher may soon be reality.

A group of leading technology companies has come up with something straight out of Star Trek: a holographic teacher which can hold a conversation, and even make eye-contact, with pupils.

The technology will put the three-dimensional image of the teacher at the front of the classroom.

Hundreds of miles away, the "real" teacher gets a picture of the class displayed on a screen, before beaming instructions back to the eager youngsters.

It could be a high-tech answer to many a teacher's occasional desire to be anywhere in the world but with their pupils.

The technology is advanced enough to boldly go on display at next month's major education technology exhibition, BETT 2000 in London. It has been produced as part of the pound;170 million Lowry Project, a massive urban regeneration scheme on Salford Quays, Manchester. A showpiece element of this is the Digital World Centre, which brings together firms to develop high-tech education projects.

The project's backers think the "holo-teacher" could help remote schools, or those too small to support full-time teachers for some subjects.

The Bett exhibition is at London's Olympia, January 12-15. The Lowry project: www.thelowry.org.uk. Digital World Centre: 0161 955 2001.

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