School News
Back to Listing

Michigan Ross Partners With White Light To Create Engaging, Immersive Digital Learning Experience


To develop a virtual classroom that transcends boundaries, the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is utilizing a mixed-reality video technology in its new Digital Education Studio.

This fall, the inaugural cohort of students in the Ross School of Business Online MBA Program, which includes live, synchronous classes, will be the first to experience the SmartStage system designed by London-based White Light Ltd

SmartStage will enable Michigan Ross to offer the same high-quality, collaborative, educational experience to students taking online courses as is found in on-campus programs. Ross faculty members are able to see and engage with students in a natural way in an immersive 3D environment. In real-time, students can see and engage with their faculty and classmates, all of whom are visible and engaging with each other live “on the stage.” This 3D immersive environment creates a real and meaningful connection between faculty and students, encourages interaction and dialogue during live class sessions, and elevates student focus and engagement throughout a course. 

“We wanted to create a highly engaging learning environment that would connect students with faculty members and their peers, and provide a more natural teaching space for professors who are engaging virtually with students from around the world,” said Scott DeRue, Edward J. Frey Dean of the Ross School of Business. “The SmartStage by White Light is an innovative technology that achieves both of these goals, and is one of many steps Ross is taking to transform our world-renowned business education to thrive in a digital world.” 

In addition to using the Digital Education Studio for its online MBA program, the first such offering from a top-10 U.S. business school, Michigan Ross is adding more enhanced learning opportunities via technology across all its degree programs and executive education partnerships with companies around the globe. The school is also developing a robust technology infrastructure to support these efforts. 

Michigan Ross is the first academic institution to utilize White Light’s SmartStage, a technology originally developed for broadcast television as an innovative alternative to a green screen. 

“White Light is excited to bring our SmartStage to the Ross School of Business and help them take distance learning to the next level by creating natural and engaging experiences,” said Andy Hook, White Light’s Technical Solutions director. “Our technology enables an intuitive teaching environment that allows faculty to be themselves and makes students feel part of the space and included in classroom discussions.” 

The groundbreaking technology behind SmartStage was originally conceived to support creative teams in the live events industry. White Light unveiled elements of the SmartStage system to millions of viewers at the world’s largest sporting events: the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea and the 2018 FIFA Football World Cup in Russia.

Michigan Ross will work with White Light to update the SmartStage content to meet the needs of its growing digital offerings for undergraduate, graduate, and executive education programs. 

Michigan Ross Online MBA Program 

About Michigan Ross

The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is a vibrant and distinctive learning community grounded in the principle that business can be an extraordinary vehicle for positive change in today's dynamic global economy. The Ross School of Business' mission is to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world. Through thought and action, members of the Ross community drive change and innovation that improves business and society.

Ross is consistently ranked among the world's leading business schools. Academic degree programs include the BBA, MBA, Part-time MBA (Evening, Online, and Weekend formats), Executive MBA, Global MBA, Master of Accounting, Master of Supply Chain Management, Master of Management, and PhD. In addition, the school delivers open-enrollment and custom executive education programs targeting general management, leadership development, and strategic human resource management.

About White Light Ltd

White Light is the complete technical solution specialist operating in a range of markets such as broadcast, education, theatre, themed attractions and live events.

Since its formation in 1971, White Light has been at the forefront of integrating technologies and its centralized knowledge base makes them the best placed company to deliver full lighting, video and audio solutions. Their portfolio speaks for itself. They are leaders in live event design & delivery. Their broadcast team supports projects on a national and international scale and their specialist technical solution & design teams work throughout the world on ground breaking permanent installations and immersive experiences. White Light also supports the entire project process from inception to completion and then onwards with full servicing and support.

Based in London (UK), White Light is a privately held company employing over 250 staff. Their recent strategic acquisitions, investments and ongoing commitment to R&D continues to strengthen their position as a technical solutions provider by empowering people and spaces with technology.