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Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education 2011 panel

On March 17-19 the 4th annual Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (#VWBPE11) will be taking place in SL and other Virtual Worlds such as OpenSim, World of Warcraft, Eve Online and Club Penguin.

The VWBPE is is a community-based conference that provides opportunities for participants in all virtual worlds to share current research,  teaching, and learning practices in 3D virtual environments. This 53 hour conference will provide opportunities for sharing and further understanding virtual world technology, and will focus on teaching/learning, scholarly work, projects, events, activities and new and innovative tools for virtual education. According to the VWBPE-website this year’s conference is about people, the community, and it’s about being together;

This year’s theme is You are Here. The divide between what is real and what is virtual is a state of mind. We learn everywhere and you are already here.

Here is all around you:

  • Here is where we find the great successes and even failures.
  • Here is where we expand our borders.
  • Here is where we touch what is important to those we teach.
  • Here is where we learn and live and play.

I have been attending the conference for a couple of years as an observer, which has been very inspirational, and I highly recommend anyone interested in 3D Virtual Worlds to participate in this amazing, free event! :-)

Furthermore, this year I have the great pleasure of doing a panel discussion together with 3 SL friends and colleagues: Chimera Cosmos, Spiral Theas, and Gann McGann.


First planning session on my holodeck with Gann & Chimera

Our session is entitled: Hats, HUDs, Wands and Weather:  Building Activities for Engagement in Second Life. One of the things we all appreciate about SL is the fun and playful parts of this environment, which could include changing the avatar’s appearance and using different types of artifacts – e.g. in our first meeting Chimera couldn’t help but show off one of her magic wands ;-)


And in fact after Gann and I left, Chimera used her tornado stick on the holodeck as seen in this photo from Chimera’s KoinUp stream:


Chimera’s koinup

While the user-controlled ability to change both the environment and one’s appearance definitely is an important part of SL, we as educators are also concerned about the kind of activities that can promote, facilitate, and not least sustain engagement in teaching and learning in an environment such as SL.


Gann, Spiral, Chimera and I discussing the call for VWBPE in our second meeting

We all have both positive and a few negative experiences with teaching in SL, and so in our panel we have decided to focus on activities that help overcome some of the barriers for meaningful, and sustained engagement in SL as stated in our proposal:

There are numerous barriers to engagement in virtual worlds. First, new residents must become familiar with the interface. Beyond technical considerations, the nature of their early experiences will determine whether and how quickly they will build an identification with their avatar and a reason to stay. Without this, it is likely that their interest in further engagement in the virtual world will lessen and their participation will drop off. A sense of presence and identity through embodiment and immersion is an important contributor to ongoing and satisfactory participation in the world and finding the motivation to continue to return until the technical and navigational thresholds are surmounted. This roundtable will discuss the essential acts, the “ah-ha” or Eureka moments, the triggering gizmos, features, activities or places that inspire students or colleagues (and have inspired us) to continue to participate.

In other words, what works to help new residents pass these technical and navigational thresholds? The speakers will share their own stories drawn from their work with students in higher education, business people, health professionals, and education colleagues. Presentations will include demonstrations and audience participation.


Spiral and I chatting under the Blue Thinking hat before our third panel meeting


Identity issues are very important in SL – and we will be showcasing Identity-cubes as part of the session

As mentioned above Gann, Spiral, Chimera, and I will be sharing some of our experiences, but we are also very much hoping to hear from the audience, and so we hope You will join us :-)

Update
We will be presenting Friday, March 18th from 8AM-10AM SLT (16-18 Dansk tid) – Building South, Room South Auxiliary, and the rest of the schedule can be found here

Also please note that even though the conference is free, you need to register in order to participate via this link. By registering you will be helping the organizers plan out resources to ensure the conference runs smoothly and that there is allocated enough space to ensure everyone gets an opportunity to participate.

/Mariis

For inspiration here are three posts I wrote about VWBPE last year:

First day impressions

Second day impressions – part 1

Second day impressions – part 2 – this one also includes my reflections on Chimera & Spiral’s 2010 session

In-world presentation @ “Internet – New Media – Culture 2.0” conference

Friday November 5th, I was invited to speak at a Polish organized in-world conference about “Internet – New Media – Culture 2.0“.


Conference site at the Second UMCS island

The conference was organized by colleagues from different departments of Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskie – some of whom I’ve previously worked with in the EU funded research project COMBLE. I was very pleased to get the opportunity to talk about some of my findings, and there were some great questions and comments on especially immersion and media convergence.


Talk about the new assessment method I implemented in my 3rd research cycle.

As promised to the participants, I’m hereby uploading my presentation.

Special thanks to Raf Moczadlo for inviting me :-)

/Mariis

SL presentation in the Danish Ministry of Science

On Friday October 15th, a total of more than 200 museums, churches, exhibition halls, galleries, political institutions, and other venues will open their doors in connection to the annual “Night of Culture” that has been a Copenhagen event since 1993. As part of this event, the Danish Ministry of Science has asked me to participate by presenting research, teaching, and learning in SL.

The event will run from 6PM until midnight (local time), and I will be in the Ministry together with one of my MIL-students, Inge Knudsen, from Business College, Horsens.Inge is a highly experienced SL educator and builder, who has run in-world courses on English, Chinese and Cultural Understanding among other things and last year she won the Danish Research Network’s annual Innovation Prize because of her work in SL.


Inge and I discussing part of her presentation for the “Night of Culture”.

In-world we will be accompanied by MIL alumni, Per Christensen and two of his close colleagues, Nicolai Green Hansen and Erik Hansen – all from VIA University College. Per and his colleagues are currently preparing for a cross-cultural collaboration with a Chinese University on their island Innovative Learning, where it is also possible to see and experience another build that last year won the Danish Ministry of Education’s annual e-Learning award.


Nicolai and I discussing part of their presentation for the “Night of Culture”.

We are all still in the process of planning this event, and there are several challenges. The Ministry has put together an extensive program (in Danish) including lots of interesting activities all night. This means that it is impossible for Inge and I to foresee how many guests will find their way to our presentations. Last year approx. 1000 guests participated in the Ministry’s activities.

We have two rooms at our disposal, and so far we’ve planned for one of them to be the “Teaching and Learning Room”, while the other will be the “Presentation Room”. In the “Teaching and Learning Room” planned in-world session with Inge and Per will run twice the hour, and guests in this room will be able to participate via guest-avatars. In the “Presentation Room” several computers with logged in guest-avatars will enable guests to explore and participate in different in-world places/events covering education, business, art, music, RL rebuilds and not least places/builds NpIRL. Inge and I will oscillate between the two rooms, and in between scheduled sessions, we’ll be available for questions and discussion of the many, different research, teaching, and learning potentials of a medium like SL.

We are also in the process of preparing note cards covering all sorts of topics, events and locations – and I encourage other SL residents to send me (Mariis Mills) suggestions of interesting locations/events. The entire event will take place from 9AM – 3PM SLT. Putting together a program for a 6 hours in a row event is quite daunting, and I personally find that the biggest challenge lies in trying to convey a sense of meaning of SL for RL-guests just passing by…

When we’re done planning, I’ll update this post with SLurls to locations where it will possible to join us in-world.

/Mariis

UPDATE – program

Most of the activities are directed towards the RL guests visiting the Ministry – and they will be in Danish. However, Inge Qunhua will do her sessions in English too, if anyone asks her. Inge will teach the audience how to introduce themselves in Chinese and there will be general lessons in understanding the Chinese culture.

Inge’s sessions will take place on her Island, Danish Visions. The first session starts at 10:30 AM SLT, and she will repeat it every hour until the last one at 2:30 PM SLT.

In between Inge’s sessions there will be live music and other activities on her Island.

For those interested in the Danish VIA-session please have a look in the group “Kulturnat 2010”, where you find all sorts of notices with LMs and further details on the in-world program.

In one of the two rooms in the Ministry, we will, starting at noon SLT, be streaming from Pop Art Lab, Claus Uriza – and later on we’ll visit The Yard Club, where there will be “Open Mic” with Torben Asp.

SLurl to Pop Art Lab

SLurl to The Yard Club