The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Asia’s top-ranked business school, has revealed plans to build the world’s first twin campus (MetaHKUST) in the metaverse to promote immersive learning and connectivity.
The extended reality (XR) campus is set to be opened in September.
Pan Hui, the Chairman of Computational Media and Arts at the Guangzhou Campus, said that learning in the metaverse is a better alternative to learning on different video conferencing platforms which are “boring and less interactive”.
The school stated that the metaverse will connect the school’s two campuses in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, and enable students and teachers to create material for the virtual world, such as avatars, NFTs, tokens, and virtual works to name a few.
They can be viewed or used in physical campuses using augmented reality (AR) technology. Events like open days or graduations can be held wholly virtual or hybrid.
The first trial event for the digital campus will be the opening ceremony for the Guangzhou Campus, which will take place on September 1st. 250 guests are expected to join the event with their customized avatars.
In the initial stage, the school will crowdsource images for the construction of the digital space from the members of the university. Physical infrastructure such as XR classrooms, sensors, cameras and visualization tools will also be installed.
To fully embrace Web 3.0, the school expects exchange of information and administrative procedures to be much more convenient. Blockchain-secured diplomas or transcripts may be awarded in the forms of NFTs.
Responding to the skepticisms about the relatively new concept of Metaverse, Wang Yang, the vice-president for institutional advancement at HKUST said that the metaverse is “here to stay” and it would become “our reality in the future”. “It’s possible that we might not even need a classroom in the future, and all classes could take place in the metaverse.”
HKUST is among different international universities to embrace Web 3.0 technologies. The University of Tokyo has announced that it will launch a wide range of educational programs taught in the metaverse later this year. The platform has already been used by the university’s president to deliver lectures earlier this year. At least 26 courses in the University of Miami incorporate virtual and augmented reality into their curriculum.
Established in 1991, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is currently ranked 40th on the QS World University Rankings 2023.