Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Virtual worlds: a place for immersive learning

In a typical week, Virtual Ability, Inc. offers its members and others workshops, trainings, tours, discussion groups, and activities. All take place in the virtual world of Second Life®. Members might also participate in discussions, focus groups, research gatherings, and support groups. Many of these are hosted or sponsored by other organizations, nonprofits, or individuals within the virtual world of Second Life®. By recognizing and harnessing the value of virtual worlds for immersive, three-dimensional, multi-sensory, participative learning, Virtual Ability, Inc. joins many others in expanding education’s boundaries.

April 9-12, 2014, in both Second Life® and OSGrid®, you can login and participate in a free, international professional conference called “Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education” (VWBPE). This is an open conference, organized by educators, for educators, to focus on learning innovations, collaborations, best practices, and evolving educational design in immersive environments. Last year, Virtual Ability’s President, Alice Krueger (Gentle Heron) was the keynote speaker for VWBPE. This year, Virtual Ability will be involved as well, both in a panel discussion and by providing transcription services.

According to their website, “Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education is a meaningful way for presenters to share their research and experience about the rich learning systems in virtual worlds and games.” Conference proceedings are published as the Journal of Virtual Studies by Rockcliffe University Consortium.  The conference is huge, with more than 2000 attendees representing 90 countries participating in 150-200 online presentations. You can take in sessions on theoretical research, application of best practices, virtual world tours, hands-on workshops, discussion panels, machinima presentations, and poster exhibits. The conference is open to all.

Moreover, for the three weeks after the conference, you can also join a “MOOC” or Massively Open Online Course that takes a look at a variety of immersive environments.

The theme for this year’s VWBPE is “Connections,” and according to the website at www.vwbpe.org , the conference will “focus on how immersive environments have extended the reach of educators to imagine a world without boundaries.” Why not consider spending some learning time in Second Life® or OSGrid® at VWBPE? Many of us from Virtual Ability, Inc. will be there!

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