University of Hong Kong opens mixed reality classrooms in Metaverse

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) announced it will host the launch party of a virtual reality classroom over 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 at the HKUST institution told the South China Morning Post that the launch of the mixed reality classroom marks the opening of a new campus in the city of Guangzhou, Hong Kong. Pan Hui, Chair Professor of Computational Media and Arts at the Guangzhou Campus, added:

“Many guests may be abroad and unable to attend [the opening]so we’re going to host it on 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 campuses, HKUST hopes to help students overcome geographic restrictions in attending classes.

While universities around the world have switched to services like Zoom to conduct online courses during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hui believes studying in the Metaverse is a better option for students because of the higher level of interaction promotes, and adds:

“Virtual reality gives you the feeling of being there. How you interact with the students around you will enhance your learning.”

Despite the emergence of the technology, Wang Yang, vice president of institutional advancement at HKUST, said the metaverse “is here to stay.”

Related: Weddings and court proceedings can be held in the Metaverse

In addition to the long list of use cases the Metaverse has to offer, Singapore’s Deputy Minister for Justice Edwin Tong commented on the use of the emerging technology in legal marriage proceedings, court cases and government services.

Tong supported his statement by highlighting instances where intimate events such as the celebration of marriages took place in the Metaverse, adding:

“It would not be unthinkable that other government services in addition to marriage registration could soon be accessed online via the Metaverse.”

Tong explained that the addition of such technology would not preclude traditional offline hearings, rather proposing an “integrated platform” that could invigorate the dispute resolution process. He noted that “there can always be a hybrid element”.

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