The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) announced its plan of establishing the world’s first physical-digital twin campuses in metaverse, as the University seeks to enhance "immersive" learning experiences for its two campuses in Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
The first event in which this metaverse-based system will be tested is the opening of the Guangzhou campus that the university will host in September 2023. Pan Hui, chair professor of computational media and arts at the Guangzhou campus explained that “a lot of guests might be overseas and can’t attend (the opening), so we will host it in the metaverse”.
According to the school, the initiative marks the first step in building MetaHKUST — a learning area in the metaverse which will connect the university’s Hong Kong campus with the one in Guangzhou, enabling students to take lessons without geographical constraints.
During the initial stages of the metaverse campus, physical infrastructure such as virtual reality classrooms, sensors, cameras and visualisation tools will be installed. The digital classroom established for the two campuses will allow students to attend the same lecture at the same time in two parallel physical spaces.
Besides lessons, events such as opening days or even graduation could be staged in the virtual world, while diplomas or transcripts could be distributed in the form of NFTs.
While Zoom became an alternative educational tool for schools during the coronavirus pandemic, Hui said that learning in the metaverse would be a better option and more interactive.
“(Using Zoom) feels like you’re just looking at a 2D screen. 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,” he said.
The global metaverse market was valued at $41.9 billion in 2020, and is projected to reach $1,237.0 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 40.4% from 2021 to 2030, as per a May 2022 report from Allied Market Research.
Last month, the University of Tokyo also announced the integration of metaverse tech into its learning processes. The institution reported it will start offering introductory engineering lessons in the metaverse later this year.
In India too, the education and edtech segment is upbeat on metaverse learning. Test preparation and coaching institute, Career Launcher, also announced the launch of CL Meta, a metaverse for students, complete with virtual classrooms, study rooms, career counselling sections, and a virtual shopping mall for students to purchase educational products.
In June, IIT-Jodhpur launched a part-time online MTech programme for working professionals in augmented reality (AR) and VR for the semester commencing 2022-23. And more recently, IT major Tech Mahindra said it is collaborating with Mahindra University to set up a Makers Lab to promote research and development in quantum computing, XAI (explainable AI) and metaverse.