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Wednesday, 29 December, 1999, 13:52 GMT
'Virtual' teachers could enter classroom

classroom The technology could help cut staffing costs


Scientists have developed technology to "teleport" holographs of teachers into the classroom.

Equipment which can beam the interactive image of a teacher into schools, where it can hold conversations and make eye contact with pupils, is to go on display at the BETT education technology exhibition next month.

Its creators at the Digital World Centre in Manchester believe it could be used to educate children living in remote areas, or to teach specialist lessons in minority subjets, which would otherwise be uneconomic.

Duffy White, director of technology at the centre, said the technology used for the holograph was like the glass teleprompts used by politicians to deliver speeches.

But instead of an image of words appearing to a speaker behind a lectern, the full-length image of a teacher appears to children sitting in front of it.

The image is projected - via a signal on the internet - onto a glass laminate screen, which forms part of a mobile lectern.

Because the screen is transparent, all children see is the full length image of a teacher, apparently standing in front of them.

The teacher can see the pupils via an invisible camera built into the lectern. The camera lens coincides with the apparent position of the teacher's eyes.

'Freaky'

Mr White said: ""Teachers can see, hear and talk to pupils in real time and look at students eye to eye.

"What the children see is not the camera that is looking at them, but the image of a teacher apparently doing just that.

"It works and the effect is actually rather freaky.

"It is totally inefficient to have a specialist teacher in every school in the country, when this kind of technology could make the best teachers available to every class."
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08 Nov 99 |  Education
Now for the 'virtual' action zone
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