The popular 1960s American TV show, Star Trek, featured a fictional device called a “holodeck,” that used holograms. Star Trek used these 3D simulations in both real and imaginary settings to allow its characters to interact with the environment, objects, and other characters. Not only that, but the show’s characters use holodecks for tasks, such as scientific simulations or tactical, covert training.

What’s a hologram? you wonder.

Holograms are projected light and electromagnetic energy that create the illusion of solid objects.

Fast forward to modern times, and that work of fiction is becoming a reality. Today, holograms are becoming a reality for experiential learning. Read on to explore how the rise of immersive technologies, such as holograms, is having a fascinating impact on the digital learning space; namely, in the promise of offering us new ways to approach learning challenges.

Experiential learning boosts learner engagement

Experiential learning encounters give learners a chance to use their direct experiences to build their knowledge.* Research from the past 70 years shows experiential learning effectively grows students’ active engagement in their learning.** What’s more, learners are more inclined to reflect on newfound knowledge gained from experiential learning, which results in even more learning and growth.***

Holographic technology has gained popularity in other industries because it offers an exceptional representation of the three-dimensional world around us. And interest has grown in combining experiential learning and holographic technology as practical approaches to education.

By using holographic technology with digital learning, we can transform the upskilling of today’s workforce into a collaborative, reflective, and engaging experiential learning experience.

Holographic technology can also enable tutors to be present in 3D in remote locations, adding depth to the learning experience. For instance, it was easier for Professor Steve Limberg, University of Texas at Austin, to notice students’ reactions—whether they were distracted or wanted his attention—during his executive MBA class, which he taught as a live, 3D image during the COVID-19 pandemic. He says the experience was much closer to teaching in person.****

Holograms can be social and educational equalizers

Holograms can simulate face-to-face interactions, removing geographical barriers so learners can share their diverse cultures through live projections and 3D presentations. Such an interactive environment, even from around the world, can improve collaboration, build community, and instill a sense of belonging as a class, all of which are critical for a memorable and effective learning experience.

Using holograms to create an experiential learning experience can also meet the social justice and equity needs of learners from marginalized and underrepresented communities. Learners can practice their skills through these immersive experiences, building their career and economic opportunities and confidence in accomplishing career-related skills.*****

Webex leads the holographic technology charge

Cisco Webex Holograms are the industry’s only meeting solution that uses augmented reality (AR) and immersive 3D holograms to bring collaboration and hybrid work together. They offer real-time, photorealistic, holographic interaction that surpasses video conferencing to give users a truly immersive experience. With Webex Hologram’s holographic capabilities, participants can interact with hands-on collaboration, such as design or training with a physical object. That kind of interaction was previously only possible with in-person meetings. And those interactions are not the only ways holograms can improve learning.

Holograms allow learners to learn about complex topics and perform hands-on lab experiments in a collaborative environment. For example, they can walk through large-scale network security readiness and training exercises via holograms, where they can visually interact with the 3D system in real-time as cyberattacks are launched, diagnosed, and countered to keep network services operating.******

Similarly, using holograms to understand network architectures can enable learners to visualize and interact with their designs in 3D. In addition, it can help them identify design flaws to discover better solutions in real time.

While the fictional holodeck isn’t yet the reality Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry, had hoped, educators are working on offering experiences that can mimic in-person classes and hands-on lab interactions. It’s only a matter of time before the real holodeck enters tech education!

So, what do you think of a future of learning using holograms? What ways would you use this new approach? Share you thoughts in the comments section below and let me know what you think! As always, thanks for reading.


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*Experiential education: The main dish, not just the side course, Association for Experiential Education, 1999.
**Experience and education (2nd edition), Dewey, J., 1963 (1938).
***Experiential learning in informal educational settings, International Review of Education, February 2017.
****Holograms Add Depth to Remote Classes, EdTech, December 2021.
*****How Experiential Learning Can Improve Educational and Workforce Equity, EdSurge, December 2020.
******RINSE: the real-time immersive network simulation environment for network security exercises, Workshop on Principles of Advanced and Distributed Simulation (PADS’05), June 2005.


Huma Hamid

Product Manager

Learning and Certifications