Opinion: How the Metaverse got to a school in the ocean – Opinion

Gonzalo Pratas

Long before 90% of LinkedIn posts mentioned the word Metaverse, projects were being developed to address real-world situations, using technologies that fit the buzzword today.

We are talking about the school environment in the Cape Verde Islands, Ilha de Santiago, the city of Praia in the context of the Covid 19 pandemic, with known restrictions on the attendance of students and parents.

Under normal circumstances, parents would visit schools, attend school activities, and meet face-to-face with jobs that their children are regularly exposed to.

This is the reality of Cape Verde schools, and this intervention focuses on the Portuguese School of Cape Verde (EPCV), and the way it uses immersive technology to manage to overcome the adversity that comes with adversity.

In what way has the technology that underlies virtual worlds and is part of the metaverse, or multiverse now, helps address so few virtual aspects?

Using different technological tools, such as automated drone photogrammetry, 360-degree photography, texture rendering and 3D models, it is possible to recreate a 3D digital model of the school, commonly referred to as a digital twin.

The existence of this 3D digital model is very important because it is the basis for creating virtual worlds on different platforms, different types of applications and different types of devices. For example, high-quality scenes can be created on video game development platforms such as Unity and Unreal Engine, or these models can be imported into online collaboration platforms such as Mozilla Hubs or Microsoft Altspace, enabling multi-user and multi-device challenges based on the needs to be addressed.

In the specific case of EPCV, it aims to create a virtual environment that allows parents to visit schools in a non-face-to-face but contextualized way, while also giving teachers and students access to a platform that is easy to learn and customize, which will allow them to interact and showcase their work and activities on their walls (in this case a virtual wall) so that parents and the school community can reconnect with the school.

The platform of choice was Mozilla Hubs, mainly because it is an open source platform, but also because it can be accessed through any modern browser. However, since it is a so-called web platform, it has some additional technical challenges, such as reducing the size of 3D models or reducing the number of polygons that can be used.

After overcoming these challenges, it was possible to recreate the environment of the pre-school and elementary education pavilions, which resulted in clear goals. Not only does it allow parents to visit schools virtually, bringing the school back to the community, but it can also post students’ school assignments and activities in spaces related to physical reality, such as their own classrooms.

A new asset to the school community, it also allows non-face-to-face access to schools and children’s work for parents living on other islands or abroad.

Being an immersive 3D environment, it also allows students to have additional interaction with school while at home, where they can sit their avatars in the same chairs they normally sit next to their colleagues’ avatars.

The school management, represented by Eng.º Suzana Maximiano, has embraced the project from the very beginning, identifying the use of immersive technology in teaching as an important complementary tool for future teaching and is already considering additional investments in this area.

Specific to the project, he added, it could address one of the main complaints of parents about not being able to visit schools, but also allow activities to be done remotely with other schools, in contextualized settings and as students. EPCV.

The school can be visited virtually via the following link: https://bit.ly/3MHV6TW

Co-President of VRARA Portugal

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