Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Scenes From the VWBPE

By Bixyl Shuftan

From Thursday March 15 5o Saturday March 17, the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education event took place. It was a three day conference taking place in six sims with in their words, "an amazing line-up of speakers, workshops, sim demonstrations, poster presentations, open discussions, and more."

Before the event, there was a Press Day on Sunday March 11. Beth Ghosrraven, iSkye Silverweb, and others showed me and other inworld journalists and bloggers about the event and grounds. They were giving out fedoras to those showing up. But I already had one.

There was a special underground area, which I was told most likely won't be around next year. There was a quest down here people could undertake for a prize.

One could rezz a seahorse and ride around in the water. When you got off, it would say, "Thank you for riding Under the Sea Seahorse Lines." Some people did have a little trouble, "?!?! Where is this Sea Horse Taking Me?!?!?!"

There was a skycar that could take us to a few spots around.

Or one could use teleport boards to get around.

Thursday March 15 at 8AM came the opening ceremony for the VWBPE.

Eventually, the ribbon was cut, officially opening the VWBPE grounds.

Ari (arisia.vita) provided some music for a while.

At 9:30AM was the first of the discussions: "Identity, literacy, immersion and presence; joining together the building blocks of virtual world learning"

Gann McGamm, Mark Childs in real life, spoke to the audience in Voice while Marcia Kjeller typed what he was saying. Letty Luckstone introduced him, "Dr. Mark Childs has worked in the field of Technology-Enhanced Learning in the UK for 20 years and is now a TEL Designer at the Open University, his tenth university," Letty told the crowd, "His PhD was awarded in 2010 for his thesis, Learners’ Experience of Presence in Virtual Worlds. Mark was the manager of the Theatron3 project from 2007 to 2009, which developed 20 ancient theatres in Second Life for performance and learning and has co-written and co-edited four books on learning in virtual worlds."

For a recording of the event, Click Here.

Next at 10:30 was "The Minecraft VRevolution: Collaborative Learning." The event had several presenters: Katherine Hewett/TwelfthNight (Avatar), Mary O’Brien/Serena Offcourse, Beth S. O’Connell/Beth Ghostraven, Kim Harrison/Thunder Insippo.

Following that event was an underwater party in the "Octopus's Garden."

There were a number of merfolk and other underwater avies. Me, I just reached for my scuba tank.

 At 1PM SL time was when Ebbe Linden spoke.

As the Newser noted earlier, Ebbe wasn't there, but was giving his talk from elsewhere. But there were two Lindens there: Madori and Bianca. Madori would message me, thanking me for covering the event.

There would be a number of discussions and panels over the next few days. Finally on Saturday March 17 at 6PM was the closing ceremony. On stage were LoriVonne Lustre, Pooky Amsterdam, Phelan Corrimal, Letty Luckstone, Elli Pinion, iSkye Silverweb,  Beth Ghostraven, and Serena Offcourse.

Pooky was the host of the event, received with much applause, "It’s great to be here at the VWBPE 2018 entering our second decade.  It’s been an incredible success, appreciation to everyone who participated on all levels, especially our volunteers! Over 2,000 educational professional  come to VWBPE each year, in what represents an important pillar in immersive education. A global grassroots community, using technology to find, learn and maximize our effectiveness in the world around, and in front of us. We are utilizing gateways through to gravitational educational superhighways such as this conference provides.

"As I began this introduction, I wanted to honor an Irish educator, for today is St. Patrick’s Day. In the seeming Zeligness of my life, I happened to be at Stuyvesant High School when Frank McCourt taught there, and much impressed with this quote of his, now read it ~ 'He says, you have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else but you can’t make up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.' ”

"And it hit me, an empty space in the mind is like an empty sim! Fitting into the multitude of our virtual environments think of it,  we can visit palaces or make our own, further creating backdrops upon which to visualize our thoughts and ideas, as well as those of our students. That sim, does not remain empty long, because here much translates from 'If I think it I can do it' or even better, 'if we can think it, it can get done.' Talk about MindStock!

"We even manifest beyond paper and time, and have richly achieved rewards actualized in both our 3D and 4D lives, on and behind the screen due to these platforms, and the VWBPE. And thank you to someone who makes this possible and encouraged our growth and that of Virtual Learning. Who continues to lead us, I am so pleased to introduce the person behind Rockcliffe’s motto - 'Nam et ipsa scientia potestas es' (Knowledge is power) our very own Phelan Corrimal, also known as Kevin Feenan, good Irish names both!

"Each year the conference programs amaze, and this year is no different - we took a cue from the great futurist Alvin Toffler who said >   'The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.' What impresses me most is the focus here on developing 21st century skills for learning, and if we are all too human 1.0 in our physical selves, then becoming an avatar helps make that leap forward to our electronic destinies  where we realize ourselves as actual links to the future. We had more than a few highlights from Bryan Alexander, Mark Childs, Tom Boellstorff and Ebbe Linden/Altberg - what incredible insights from people who are living lives with both feet in the grid and two hands on the keyboards. The revolution will be livestreamed!

"The Social Virtual Reality session was great, props to Lyr Lobo, Gentle Heron and the rest of the panel. Examples of how far we are getting include the METAGAME: Ready Player One Meets Snowcrash - blending of two major literary influences within our virtual reality - how cool is that and Chemistry Experiments in Virtual Worlds! I am smiling just saying that. And I’d like Quadrivium more if I could pronounce it more easily, but the ability to have this kind of high level discussion in real time on STEAM subjects and instructional innovation is a knockout, and gives us tremendous hope for a future we all need to be part of.

"More and more we need one another, and while that is not new, the way we bridge distance with thought leadership is impressive - thank you again to everyone!"

Pooky would then introduce the others on stage, who would speak briefly. Beth Ghostraven would thank several newsletters, magazines, and blogs for covering the WVBPE, including the Second Life Newser.

They would also announce the winner of the 2018 Thinkerer Award: Valibrarian Greg.

To see the recording of the closing, go here. You can also go to the VWBPE page on Youtube Gaming for a list of their recordings.

The VWBPE sims are still up, presumably until the end of the month. So stop by and see the exhibits and places before they fade away.

Bixyl Shuftan

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