Hong Kong University Designs Campus Using Metaverse Technology

Hong Kong University Designs Campus Using Metaverse Technology

Students at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) are proving the metaverse is still alive and vibrant as the school pushes a metaverse campus, which is expected to improve its curriculum and connectivity across campuses.

The students have already started using the metaverse to design what their future campus could look like in 2050.

A 2050 campus

Spearheading the project is the university’s Engineering Team Design Experience course, which uses a Spatial platform that allows students to create shared virtual spaces.

Students who take the course envision the future. In the Spring one student predicted that the HKUST will have an underwater campus by 2050.

These developments, although they seem farfetched, allow students to imagine and bring their designs to life.

“We created a lab in which students may travel to distant planets via wormholes and engage in outer space academic exchanges,” said third-year engineering student Pauline Guo Siling.

The class is also said to have provided better collaborative skills for the students. Dr Ben Chan Yui-bun, who is in charge of running the course, highlighted that the course’s objective was to create a space where students can collaborate and imagine without limits.

“[The metaverse] allows students to be more engaged and interested in class,” he said.

This course comes just one year after HKUST announced their plans to build a virtual campus MetaHKUST and conducted their first lesson using virtual reality means.

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Metaverse campus to connect all students

As part of the bigger plan for a metaverse campus, the university previously announced plans to implement a virtual reality class effective September 1, 2022, to coincide with the opening of its Guangzhou campus.

The plan is also expected to connect the university’s two campuses with all of its students from across the globe.

“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.

According to a YP article, the move marked the first step towards the establishment of the metaverse campus, known as MetaHKUST.

Metaverse learning also comes as supporters of the concept believe this improves student engagement. This is believed to be favorable when compared to non-immersive platforms like Zoom.

Metaverse “here to stay”

Global News Education reports that universities across the globe are channeling resources towards digital twin campuses, offering classes using virtual reality.

Wang Yang, HKUST’s institutional development vice president, said despite the skepticism around metaverse, the concept is “here to stay” and therefore schools cannot miss the opportunity to tap into the concept.

“Last year the buzzword was NFT. This year, it is the metaverse. It will become our reality in the future. We can imagine living in the metaverse soon,” he said.

Easy interaction

While there is still more that can be done to improve the technology for meta campuses, Dr Ben Chan believes that using virtual reality could benefit students from all over the world by providing a space where they can interact with ease and collaborate together.

Elsewhere, a U.S.-based institution Morehouse College is piloting its metaverse classes, which was started during the peak of Covid 19 period in 2021.

The college was already offering 10 courses in the metaverse across departments as of November last year.

Meta has signed 50 colleges and universities in the US for the development of digital campuses as the concept of metaverse learning continues to gain traction.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.