The Oxford Hub for International Virtual Education (HIVE) is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom and the second of its kind in the world. Located at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School, the new virtual classroom will use technology to connect students, faculty, and participants from around the world. It’s the latest development in the school’s digital agenda.
HIVE is a physical room with 27 high-definition screens shaped in a U. The technology—developed by SyncRTC and operated by the Mashme.io software—will allow up to 84 participants to engage with each other at one time. It’s far more advanced than traditional conferencing platforms. The software uses robotics along with facial recognition technology and 4D high-definition projections to create an immersive experience for both learners and teachers.
Oxford Saïd plans to use the HIVE in many ways, for everything from classes to pitching competitions. It will be especially useful for connecting faculty and students around the globe. Teachers will be able to address participants individually, split users into groups, conduct polls, and more. It’s a fully immersive experience that allows all participants to see and hear one another. Not only that, the software monitors the attentiveness of each individual and provides a score for them at the end based on their facial expressions and engagement with the class.
“While the Oxford experience is an integral part of our approach, the methods by which we teach and learn are changing,” Saïd Dean Peter Tufano said in a press release. “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.” He added that it will also allow alumni to gather virtually as if they were on campus in Oxford.
“In a hive, bees work to make honey. At the Oxford HIVE, we will work to build knowledge,” Tufano said.