May 2023 | Volume 24 No. 2
Connecting through Campusland
“The Data Science Lab (DSL) developed HKU Campusland and used mixed reality to bring the virtual world to the real world and vice versa,” said Dr Adela Lau, Deputy Director of DSL in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science (SAAS). “Users create an avatar for themselves and enter an immersive world. It deploys web6.0 technologies to integrate human and artificial intelligence into one for the purpose of collaboration.”
For the project, DSL developed workshops to teach secondary school and university students how to create the virtual avatars, 3D models and AI chatbot for scenes, develop the content and 3D visualisation in Roblox for interactive, collaborative, personalised and immersive learning, and make virtual robots to interact and communicate with learners for collaborative intelligence and knowledge enquiry.
In the first phase last year, DSL developed the major AI tools and 3D visualisation for HKU Campusland, and the second phase this year includes programme enquiry, the design of integrated STEAM learning content to streamline students’ learning from primary through secondary and to university level, and connects local and overseas industries with students for virtual internship and mentorship in the ‘We together in metaverse’ project.
Applying AI to STEAM
“We collaborated and exchanged knowledge with school teachers on how to apply AI to integrated STEAM education, and to cultivate and nurture school students to be junior applied research scientists,” said Dr Lau.
“Our goal is to cultivate junior scientists by integrating arts and science knowledge with data science, AI, immersive technologies, and process re-engineering for innovation creation and applied research. The platform enables secondary school students to have a taste of studying at university – for example, we recently offered a taster workshop on mixed reality in the metaverse to Junior Science Institute participants.”
Secondary school students at the ‘Mixed Reality in Metaverse’ workshop organised by the Data Science Lab of the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science and the Faculty of Science.
University students can use HKU Campusland to learn how to apply AI, neuroscience, web and computer programming, arts design, mathematics and statistics calculations, electronic and product design re-engineering to develop innovative tools, application and learning content in the metaverse. Once they have entered HKU Campusland, students from diverse disciplines can gather to collaborate, exchange ideas and inspire each other.
“The aim is to provide them with a virtual space for different kinds of learning and expose them to other opportunities like internship, mentoring, company and student workshops and on-demand education. The platform helps students equip themselves and establish connections with industry experts for better career planning,” said Dr Lau.
The idea of HKU Campusland was incubated in close collaboration with Dr Herbert Lee and Dr Patrick Ma, the Chairman and the CEO respectively of technology company Marvel Digital Ai Ltd (MDAi). “They kindly donated HKU Campusland to us and provided funding support to HKU DSL for the development of the AI tools in metaverse,” said Dr Lau. “Around 20 internship opportunities for our students from various disciplines including AI, Data Science, Statistics, Decision Analytics, Design+ and Electronic and Computer Engineering have been made possible based on the funding.”
In addition, this year Dr Lau asked the company to donate a virtual internship building and the metaverse buildings for primary and secondary schools in HKU Campusland, so as to enable the creation of integrated STEAM education to streamline the applied education across school and university levels. The aim is to nurture young scientists from an early age to achieve the Hong Kong government’s strategic plan in Human Capital and the Youth Development Blueprint for Hong Kong in the Greater Bay Area.
“Using MDAi’s school donation, we worked with Bloom KKCA Academy to develop a ‘mixed reality music and dance’ interactive learning module with AI. It is an innovative integrated STEAM showcase that stakeholders can join in the ‘We together in metaverse’ project,” said Dr Lau.
“The metaverse helps students establish connections with industry experts for better career planning and learn how to apply theories to real practices,” said Dr Eddy Lam, Associate Head of SAAS, and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Science. “HKU Campusland provides innovative ideas to the company through discussion and has developed workshops to train their staff to participate in the virtual workshop programme and give students early opportunities to fill the gap between academia and industry.”
“The ultimate goal of HKU Campusland is to connect people around the world, to broaden our students’ horizons and to learn from people with different backgrounds, to create a wisdom knowledge base using AI in metaverse, and to accelerate the development of AI talents and digital economy in Hong Kong,” said Professor Guosheng Yin, Patrick S C Poon Professor in Statistics and Actuarial Science.
The Data Science Lab and Bloom KKCA Academy developed a ‘mixed reality music and dance’ interactive learning module with AI.
The aim is to provide them with a virtual space for different kinds of learning and expose them to other opportunities like internship, mentoring, company and student workshops and on-demand education.
DR ADELA LAU