TSTC Adds Mixed Reality Into Curriculum


TSTC Adds Mixed Reality Into Curriculum

TSTC HoloLensBringing emerging technology into the hands of its students, Texas State Technical College will be implementing HoloLens Mixed Reality into its curriculum as early as next year. Students will strap on a Microsoft HoloLens to see 3D computer graphics shown on top of the real-world classroom environment.

“There is nothing as powerful as using HoloLens for educating our students,” said TSTC Senior Vice President of Student Learning Hector Yanez. “This is a unique tool for explaining lessons in-depth, beyond a traditional lecture. Students can feel the knowledge.”

With a number of virtual reality and augmented reality applications in utilization in higher education, mixed reality brings a different approach to the already popular technology. The first TSTC programs to introduce the Microsoft application are Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics, Vocational and Registered Nursing and Chemical Technology. Offering of the application is in partnership with Pearson Education.

Unlike its counterparts that set a user in a virtual, or digital landscape, mixed reality blends the person’s real-world and digital world, and introduces a hologram that the user can interact with. The immersive learning experience is available anywhere or anytime.

“Mixed reality applications have been around for only a few years,” said TSTC Executive Director of Instructional Support Orlando Penuelas. “So there was a lot of research that went into this decision making; this is a great investment for our students and institution.”

A pair of HoloLens applications, HoloPatient and HoloChemistry, were among the first on demonstration to TSTC students recently.

TSTC Vocational Nursing students Ana Decuesta and Celina Romo were first to use HoloPatient to interact with holographic medical scenarios.

“I’ve only seen this type of technology on TV. So being able to actually touch it and use it is exciting,” said Romo, the 39-year-old Raymondville native. “At first I was intimated; it’s cutting edge technology, but it turned out to be very user friendly and I can’t wait until it’s fully implemented into our program.”

Decuesta shared the same sentiment. She said she is happy that this type of technology is now available to her and her peers.

“This type of technology is usually found in big universities, so TSTC giving us this opportunity is invaluable to our training,” said 19-year-old Decuesta. “This will allow us to build on our confidence, which is key in our field, before beginning our clinical rotations and beginning our careers.”

Yanez said the goal of the applications is to bridge a gap between understanding and visualization, which will lead to student retention and placing more Texans into good paying jobs.

“HoloLens gives TSTC and our students a competitive edge,” said Yanez. “We are just seeing the start of the endless possibilities that these tools can offer our students.”

TSTC in Harlingen will kick off the pilot program in the coming year and will eventually be implemented at the college’s 10 other campuses across the state.