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Monday, March 15, 2010

I Have Seen the Future of Conferences...and it is 3D!

Terrence Linden discussing the new 
Second Life browser at VWBPE conference.

If you missed the Virtual Worlds' Best Practices in Education Conference, you missed not only a great conference with really good content and presentations, you missed a glimpse into the future of conferences.

The conference took place entirely in the virtual immersive environment of Second Life with a venue of presenters from around the world. Take a look at the conference agenda to get an idea of the breadth and scope of the event.

Marty Snowpaw (SL) Marty Keltz (RL), one of the organizers of the event told me that over 5,000 avatars attended the two day event. As Marty said to me, "the conference is rolling a long with record breaking attendance." I was in a session with Terrence Linden (SL) that had over 70 attendees and the session that Tony O'Driscoll (RL) and I conducted had about that many attendees as well. 

The in-world event had posters sessions, tours, exhibits, social events and presentations just like a face-to-face conference and groups like the US Airforce were present to discuss what they are doing in virtual worlds in terms of education and collaboration.

If, for one minute, you think virtual worlds are going away, this conference has proved that notion dead WRONG. The conference reinforced everything I believe about virtual worlds being the future of online education. Anyone still doing 2D virtual classrooms is quickly going to be left behind.

Here are some pictures I took of the conference, our slides from the conference and a link to one of the videos from a session.

Terrence Linden discussing the fact that
60% of top universities are in Second Life.

One of the advantages of conducting a conference in a virtual world is that the attendees can become immersed in a very non-traditional but effectively moving environment. I attended a session where the moderator, Jenaia Morane (SL) Jena Ball (RL), introduced attendees to “The Uncle D Story Quests” created by The Virtual Worlds Story Project by asking the learners to change their settings to night time, gather around a virtual camp fire and to think about their impressions of HIV and write them on a notecard.

Here we are gathering around the camp fire.

Setting the environment to "night" 
to enjoy the story by the camp fire.

The US Airforce is doing a number of projects in Second Life and actively involving the community. The presented on the topic of" The Rise of Avatars in Loosely Coupled Social Networks for Military Learning Innovations"  and discussed how the virtual environment is engaging learners and changing behavior.
Andy Stricker (RL)  Spinoza Quinnell (SL)
Distributed Learning Architect Air University 
discusses learning in a virtual world.

For our presentation, Tony and I met up in the "green room" or speaker ready room for some instructions, a sound check and to meet with our moderator. From a speaker and attendees perspective, the conference ran smoothly, was well coordinated and had a great overall vibe. The community is so lively and active.
Tony and Karl prepare for their Learning in 3D presentation.

Karl talking about the alignment of sensibilities with design principles.

The venue for the Learning in 3D presentation.

Tony making a point about 3D learning
 archetypes described in the book.

A look at the audience listening to the Learning in 3D
 discussion at the VWBPE Conference.

Here are our slides from the presentation.

View more presentations from kkapp.

The content for the slides and our presentation at the VWBPE conference was excerpted from;

Another fascinating element of a virtual conference is the ability to create experiences and interact with the audience in ways not possible in Real Life. For example, at her presentation Lesley Scopes (RL) Light Sequent (SL) (a contributor to Learning in 3D) presented on her Cybergogy model by creating a model right on stage. Check out her entire presentation.

Audience members look on as the model being 
discussed is built right in front of them in 3D.

Conducting conferences without having to fly across the world, by providing 3D presentations and interacting within a virtual world will be a large part of the future. Ironically, this weekend, as I was preparing for this conference, I got an email from a client who said that her travel budget for a conference she wanted to run this summer was cancelled and did I have any ideas on an "innovative" way to run a conference without travel...yeah, I think I just might.

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Lorraine Storry Mockford said...

Thanks Karl. As a member of the VWBPE organizing committee (and your favourite transciptionist), blog posts and feedback like this reinforce to us that we ARE on to something BIG here.
I am sending this link to my manager and all the senior administrators in my College. It will give them something to read while awaiting your book.
Lorraine Mockford / LoriVonne Lustre

Karl Kapp said...


Thank you! for a wonderfully organized and coordinated conference and for being a great transciptionist. Your commitment of time and energy is great appreciated by the attendees and presenters! Enjoy the book and I hope one day to sign it in RL!