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Northeastern University uses Dynamics 365 Guides mixed reality to deliver experiential learning

“What kind of cool opportunities are there in the research and education space and how can we leverage that technology?” These were the types of questions that educators at Northeastern University asked themselves when looking for solutions to provide unique, immersive experiences for their students. Education and experiential learning have seen incredible value in the development of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality technology and content, according to Statista.1 Traditional, more passive learning methods are failing to meet the needs of modern education, and institutions like Northeastern University are rapidly exploring and adopting more innovative and impactful solutions.

Students need a tactile, active, and hands-on experience that helps them retain information longer and apply acquired knowledge in real-world situations, even while learning. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides and HoloLens 2 give professors and leaders in learning and development a game-changing approach to experiential and hands-on learning.

A technician in a laboratory wearing HoloLens and working with lab materials

Move from traditional to experiential learning

The biotech department at Northeastern University knew it needed to expand its traditional learning model to provide students with more experiential learning opportunities. They discovered Microsoft’s mixed reality solutions and immediately saw the value of applying this technology to lectures, classroom training, and research.

The value of mixed reality became even more clear after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown university facilities and sent students home. Northeastern University started using mixed reality as part of their pandemic response, working to ensure students didn’t miss out on their education even while at home. Using Dynamics 365 Guides and HoloLens 2 the students at Northeastern University received an immersive learning experience despite the challenges of the coronavirus lockdown.

“The HoloLens really emphasized the power of visual learning in a specific space, but not actually having to be there.”Jared Auclair PhD, Director of Executive Training and Biotechnology Programs, Northeastern University

A person walking through a laboratory wearing HoloLens

Reduce training time with Dynamics 365 Guides

Before Northeastern University introduced mixed reality to the training process, it took three hours for Dr. Auclair to teach a relatively simple technique inside the lab. Working closely with his students, Dr. Auclair often spent time in person to help them get it right. Now, using Dynamics 365 Guides, Northeastern University has cut training time by 83 percent. Students can now acquire the technique required in no more than 30 minutes and discover a new-found independence.

“We can get them into HoloLens 2, and they can go through a program by themselves being guided by the guides. It’s a beauty of it that I don’t have to be there. And then, we can bring them in the lab and ensure they’ve been trained properly—I think Dynamics 365 Guides has the potential to be a game-changer in the training realm of biotech.”—Jared Auclair PhD, Director of Executive Training and Biotechnology Programs, Northeastern University

Visualization of one of the steps in Dynamics 365 Guides

Empower students to do more with mixed reality

In addition to reducing training time, mixed reality has freed up critical time for specialists who no longer need to be present during in-classroom training. They can spend this extra time giving feedback and preparing the student for more complex techniques. At Northeastern University, students using mixed reality can quickly apply their skills in the real world and appreciate the independence and flexibility this learning method provides, particularly during such an uncertain time.

“We’re excited about exploring the new possibilities of using this kind of technology for experiential learning in whatever kind of setting, given that this technology is now more widely available.”Nick Wilson, Associate Director, Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning Through Research, Northeastern University

Get started with Dynamics 365 Guides

1-“XR/AR/VR/MR technology investment directions worldwide 2016-2019″, Lionel Sujay Vailshery, March 16, 2021, Statista.