PEAK Institute at HIES – GeoDome Panorama

Elumenati GeoDome Panorama - classroom immersive learning environment at HIES in Atlanta


“VR headsets are great, but it’s a very individualized experience. The GeoDome Panorama enhances teachers’ lessons in a collaborative environment. Several of our teachers have talked about how the students are more engaged. They’re asking more questions, they’re pointing out and making connections between things that they haven’t done in past years,” said Daniel Forrester, Associate Director.

A GeoDome Panorama is part of an immersive learning lab at the PEAK Institute at HIES in Atlanta, GA. The team at HIES are expanding on the established GeoDome use cases, and using WorldViewer as a media mashup tool to build immersive lessons on cultural studies, history and literature. Both students and teachers are creating the lessons as well as customized GUIs using WorldComposer.  A few examples:

  • The Community Garden, a generative art project that blends art and science
  • A Dia de los Muertes celebration in 360°, filmed by a HIES teacher for a Spanish class
  • A virtual field trip to the Theater of Dionysus, for students studying Greek Theater
  • A 360° video of a battle reenactment, for a unit on the American Revolution
  • A VR tour of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, for students reading the Diary of Anne Frank
  • 360° tours of the HIES campus and sister schools in cities around the world

Next up, they’ll introduce programming from HabitatXR, an impact-led XR production studio based in South Africa and focused on immersing people in nature and her stories. They’ll also be using WorldViewer’s capability to showcase datasets created for NOAA’s Science on a Sphere, as well as NASA JPL’s Eyes On platforms. And students will incorporate motion sensors for an interactive art project.

Students experiencing the dome range from pre-K through high school students. Here’s what teachers have to say:

  • “I knew it would be cool, but I had no idea how much content and discussion we would get out of it! My students were so excited, and they learned so much.”
  • “My students loved it and I am thankful we have such an awesome resource at our school.”
  • “Every one of them left saying that it was a really cool experience, and they learned a lot more. “

More from Daniel Forrester: “The benefit of our screen design is that it not only wraps around you, but also curves upward and downward. It helps our students to really feel like they’re there. There’s not a bad seat in the house. You can be in the front row or in the third row, and you still feel like you’e immersed in the setting. When high school students come in for our oceanography class, they feel like they’re underwater. They look left and right to see fish swimming around them and the coral reef, but when they look up, they still feel like the water is going up over their head. And that’s something that you can’t replicate through other screens,” Forrester said.

At HIES, the customized Panorama is 6.8m in diameter, with an open screen design to create a sense of immersion for students in several rows. An OmniFocus 30350 using a Barco F80-4K12 is mounted overhead, with 3840×2400 resolution at an upgraded brightness of 12,000 lumens. 2.1 audio mounts the speakers inside the screen, and a portable control station enables a wireless tablet as the main user interface.GeoDome Panorama with immersive Community Garden generative art project