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Hong Kong university to launch a metaverse-based campus allowing students from different locations to attend the same class

HKUST's metaverse classrooms will utilize sensors, cameras, and other visualization tools allowing students from the university’s two campuses to attend the same class.

HKUST Campus / Image by: Wikimedia Commons

Sun, 31 Jul 2022, 08:02 am UTC

Businesses have been busy buying up virtual properties and busy looking for ways how the technology can be harnessed in anticipation of the coming rise of the metaverse economy. But it’s not just businesses that are interested in the new virtual world as a handful of educational institutions worldwide are also starting to see the potential of this new technology.

For instance, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) announced last week that it plans to create a campus in the metaverse called Metahkust, the South China Morning Post reported. The first step of this metaverse-based system is the launch of a virtual reality classroom on September 1.

The launch of the virtual classroom will coincide with the opening of the new HKUST Guangzhou campus, which will also host the mixed reality classroom. “A lot of guests might be overseas and can’t attend [the opening], so we will host it in the metaverse,” said Pan Hui, chair professor of computational media and arts at the Guangzhou campus.

Hui explained that while the more traditional remote learning setup using video conference apps like Zoom has become popular during the pandemic, there are advantages to metaverse-based classrooms. The latter offers more interaction for students, and with the immersive quality of the metaverse experience, it can even feel like students were attending their classes in the real world.

“[Using Zoom] feels like you’re just looking at a 2D screen,” the university official explained. “But through virtual reality, you can feel as if you’re there. I think interaction is very important for learning. How you interact with students around you will increase your learning outcome.”

While there are skeptics of the new technology, Wang Yang, vice-president for institutional advancement at HKUST, believes said the metaverse is here to say. “Last year the buzzword was NFT,” he said. “This year, it is the metaverse. It will become our reality in the future. We can imagine living in the metaverse soon.”

The virtual reality classrooms of the metaverse campus will utilize sensors, cameras, and other visualization tools allowing students from the university’s two campuses to attend the same class. “Guangzhou students can sit in the lecture room and see their classmates, but when they put on their goggles, they can see their Hong Kong peers sitting next to them,” he added. “It’s a feeling of unity and participation.”

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