If you’re interested in the potential of virtual environments for education, the annual Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference is a great resource for information, networking, and ideas. Now in its twelfth year, the conference is free to attend and completely online, taking place in the virtual world of Second Life. If you’re interested in viewing any of the sessions at the CTE, contact me; depending on the schedule, I may be able to log in and present some of the Thu / Fri sessions below on-screen in either the CTE conference room or the FIDL.
Thursday, April 4th:
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Kickoff and ribbon cutting
Join us at the Gateway for Kick Off Event of VWBPE 2019. This is a time to socialize and network with friends, old and new, while enjoying the lovely piano music of Ari (Arisia Vita). The Conference Executive and Organization Committees will share a few of the upcoming highlights. Executive Director, Phelan Corrimal, will officially start the conference with the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. You will also have time to explore and enjoy the exhibits. Be sure to check for the Exhibit Scavenger Hunt Notecard in your Swag Bag. There will be a prize for completion!
12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Keynote: Paraethnographic film as mode of education: Lessons from disability in virtual worlds (Dr. Tom Boellstorff, University of California Irvine)
What possibilities do virtual worlds hold for film as a mode of education? To explore this question I will discuss Our Digital Selves: My Avatar is Me, a documentary by Bernhard Drax. This film chronicles my research on disability and virtual worlds, but the filmmaker was given creative control: my collaborator (Donna Z. Davis) and I appear in the film and helped guide its themes, but made no decisions regarding the film’s final content. The filmmaker’s extensive work included meeting interlocutors in the physical world that the researchers met only online, as well as crafting a narrative about disability and virtual embodiment that comments on rather than replicates the scholarly narrative. I will discuss specific techniques like “virtual reenactment” and “virtual staging” that Drax used in making Our Digital Selves, and reflect on how what I term “paraethnographic film”—film created through a triple collaboration between community members, ethnographers, and filmmakers—holds great potential for virtual education. Before the keynote, BE SURE TO WATCH Our Digital Selves: My Avatar is Me (Bernhard Drax / Draxtor Despres, 2018).
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Science Circle round table discussion
The Science Circle is a 10 year old alliance of scientists, educators, students, and science enthusiasts who collaborate to share knowledge and promote open source education worldwide. Our mission is to enhance science understanding through interdisciplinary dialog via virtual environments and social media. We continue to collaborate with educators and researchers to re:envision innovative ways to attract and engage a diverse people and ideas, while working to solve technological and user issues.
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Virtual world training for mental health providers (Kevin M. Holloway, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences)
The Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) has piloted virtual-worlds based training programs for mental health providers serving military Service members, Veterans, and their families. This population deserves the most effective treatments for deployment- and combat-related PTSD, sleep disorders, depression, and suicide prevention. This presentation will discuss CDP’s synchronous and asynchronous Second Life training models and environments, and preliminary outcomes data regarding effectiveness.
2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. – Making Connections Parade
The VWBPE Annual Parade is a great way to start our social plans! Meet us at the Lighthouse near Gateway and travel over the new bridge built just for this event! Together we will re:Vision this parade as we make our way over to the social sim. Be sure to look for your special parade t-shirt in your swag bag for this fun event!
3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Music and Dancing
Our parade will end in the main building on the social sim with a fun-filled concert and dancing with DJ Coz Okelly who will spinning the NEW Oldies music from the 80’s! Many pop stars emerged in the 80’s including Madonna and Prince. You are sure to hear these superstars and more. So, whether you want to do the Macarena or the Moonwalk, there will be lots of fun for all!
Friday, April 5th:
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Keynote: Teacher training within virtual worlds (Dr. Tuncer Can, Istanbul University)
This presentation will look at how training teachers within virtual worlds could enhance innovation in the class and change the lives of real people by ensuring them real jobs. The skills acquired within Virtual Worlds are also leading to more innovation in teachers’ professional lives which leads to life-long development as well. The presentation will also summarize the influence of EU funded projects like CAMELOT and GUINEVERE on the foreign language teacher development.
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – Nonprofit Commons past reflections, future directions
After a year of reflection and evolution the Nonprofit Commons re:Vision examines the future of shared communities, presenting professional development and promoting nonprofit organizations that use virtual world platforms. Our meetings feature learning and networking, helping the community to grow stronger in technology use.
2:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – Perspectives on virtual professional learning communities (Vasili Giannoutsos, Virginia Society of Technology in Education)
A look at over a decade of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) online in forum, virtual worlds, and video hangouts. From participant to leader, the journey of an experienced virtual PLC member always take such unexpected roles. We will be looking at various ideas, roles, and positions that users can take in these various digital settings. Where you can be engage in a community online yet; working on a research paper, texting colleagues, grading, and planning lessons; all at the same time. Hypertasking is the new norm.
2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. – Virtual hunts for virtual detectives (Mary Howard, Grand Island Central School District)
Virtual environments provides extraordinary opportunities to engage students in instruction. From building to immersive experiences, students can receive tremendous benefits from the use of virtual worlds. Learn how an Open Sim experience helped inspire and reinforce learning in the classroom from the inception of the grant to the wonderful opportunities it has afforded students with virtual scavenger hunts and exploratory learning opportunities.
3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – GUINEVERE: Learn a language through games in virtual worlds
Digital game-play has become a popular way of practising a language and many youngsters enjoy playing this in their spare time. EU funded project GUINEVERE (2017-2019) aims to demonstrate the potential of digital game-based learning in 3D immersive environments in order to improve teaching and learning outcomes in foreign languages.
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