University of Hong Kong opens mixed reality classroom in Metaverse

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The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has announced it will host the launch party of a virtual reality classroom above the Metaverse on September 1. The launch marks the beginning of HKUST’s plan to promote immersive learning by building a virtual campus in the Metaverse, to be called MetaHKUST.

An academic from the HKUST institution told South China Morning Post that the launch of the mixed reality classroom is the opening of a new campus in the city of Guangzhou, Hong Kong. Pan Hui, professor of computational media and arts at the Guangzhou campus, added that:

“Many guests may be abroad and unable to attend [the opening]so we will host it in the metaverse.”

By building MetaHKUST, the institution plans to create a learning environment that virtually connects the two campuses – in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. By virtually connecting the campuses, HKUST hopes to help students overcome geographic limitations when attending classes.

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As universities around the world have moved to services like Zoom to deliver online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hui believes that learning in the Metaverse is a better option for students as it fosters a greater degree of interaction, adding to it:

“Virtual reality makes you feel like you’re there. How you interact with students around you will increase your learning outcomes.”

Despite the burgeoning technology, Wang Yang, VP for institutional advancement at HKUST, said the metaverse was “here to stay.”

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Related: Marriages and lawsuits can be held in the Metaverse

In addition to the long list of use cases Metaverse has to offer, Edwin Tong, Singapore’s second law minister, commented on the use of the nascent technology in legal marriage, litigation and government services.

Tong supported his statement by highlighting instances where intimate events such as the solemnization of marriages were held in the Metaverse, adding:

“It would not be inconceivable that, in addition to the registration of marriages, other government services will soon also be accessible online via the Metaverse.”

Tong stated that the addition of such technology would not prevent traditional offline hearings from taking place and rather suggested an “integrated platform” that could boost the dispute resolution process. He noted that “there can always be a hybrid element.”

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