VWBPE 2014: panels announced

2014 banner

The seventh Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference, taking place in both Second Life and OSgrid, will commence at 11:00 SLT on Wednesday April 9th, 2014 with an informal meet and greet between 12:00 and 13:00, and will close on Saturday April 12th with a special ceremony at 18:00 SLT, followed by a party at 19:00 SLT.

On March 9th, I provided coverage of the keynote speakers announcement. At that time, Ebbe Atlberg’s keynote address hasn’t been defined, however, this has now changed. The keynote is titled Reconnecting with the Education Market, and is described as sharing his initial thoughts on “the importance of supporting educational use of Second Life, the company’s interest in rebuilding and strengthening the connection between Linden Lab and the community of educators using the platform”, and will primarily comprise a brief opening statement so that the majority of his time can be devoted to a Q&A / discussion.

As well as the keynote speakers, VWBPE have also released details on the key panel discussions taking place over the course of the conference. These are:

Thursday April 10th

08:05-09:05 SLT: OpenSimulator’s Role in the Future of Virtual Worlds Research and Education

A discussion of OpenSim’s education community and AvaCon’s contributions to education and research, especially in regards to how the OpenSimulator Community Conference has been a powerful tool for this advancement.

Panelists: Joyce Bettencourt RL/Rhiannon Chatnoir SL, Chris Collins RL/Fleep Tuque SL, Crista Lopes RL/Diva Canto SL, Melanie Thielker RL/Melanie Milland SL, Michael Cerquoni RL/Nebadon Izumi SL.

Location: Second Life VWBPE Main Auditorium.

14::00-15:50 SLT: Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable: A Best Practices Influence

A discussion on the kinds of trends that the VWER has seen over the course of its existence, and to what extent it may have influenced and advanced best practices in the use of virtual worlds for education. The connections established by the group have bonded a band of educators that share ideas weekly, and it is the persistent popularity of these meetings that make it such a noteworthy group in Second Life.

Panelists: Evelyn McElhinney RL/Kali Pizzaro SL, AJ Kelton RL/AJ Brooks SL, Shailey Minocha RL/Shailey Garfield SL.

Location: Second Life VWBPE Main Auditorium.

Friday April 11th

09:00–10:50 SLT: The Science Circle: Connecting Different Disciplines, and Inspiring Creativity and Inventiveness

The Science Circle consists of over 200 scientists, educators, entrepreneurs, and students on four continents. The VWBPE Panel will share the story of its development and the challenges faced and overcome in establishing a functional and lasting community with members of diverse cultures and backgrounds.

Panelist: Chantal Snoek RL / Nymf Hathaway (Chantal) SL, Jesse Stannard RL / Jes Cobalt SL, Phil Youngblood RL / Vic Michalak SL, Hajime Nishimura RL / Yan Lauria SL, Steven Van Hook RL / Kip Roffo SL, Deepthinker Oh RL/SL.

Location: Second Life VWBPE Main Auditorium.

Saturday April 12th

09:00-10:50 SLT: Connecting the Past, Present, and Future of Second Life

“It is the essence of good management that an effective advisory board, properly composed and structured, provide informed guidance in the quest for superior corporate governance. That includes opportunities to seek out dissenting viewpoints that challenge the status quo and forces executives, and board members, to re-evaluate long-held beliefs which may be holding back growth and profitability. Third party expert opinion provides a safe harbour which new executives can realise new opportunities without being prejudiced by internal politics.”

The objective of this panel is to develop a position paper which can help guide and inform Linden Lab’s new CEO on the opportunities, risks, cost benefits, and potential returns on investment based on a thoughtful analysis of the issues facing our communities of practice.

Panelists: Botgirl Questi SL, Will Burns RL/Aeonix Aeon SL, Terry Beaubois RL/Tab Scott SL, Kevin Feenan RL/Phelan Corrimal SL.

Location: Second Life VWBPE Main Auditorium.

16:00-15:50 SLT: The Freedom Project: How Artistic Expression Transcends Real Life Challenges

The purpose of this panel is to discuss how The Freedom Project helped spotlight artistic expression for people with invisible illnesses or other disabilities. Through this effort, people who have real life challenges can develop a connection to a community and be able to transcend real life challenges.

Panelists: Jay Jay Jegathesan RL/Jayjay Zifanwe SL, Alice Krueger RL/Gentle Heron SL, FreeWee Ling SL, Dianne Elton SL.

Location: Second Life VWBPE Main Auditorium.

Notes on Attending

The VWBPE conference is free to attend, and those wishing to do so should register via the conference registration page on Eventbrite. Attendees will also need accounts for both Second Life and OSgrid in order to attend all events on both grids.

Follow-up Course

The main conference will be followed by a 3-week Massively Open Online Course (MOOC). This is intended to highlight examples of educational design from many immersive environments. In the past, presentations have included environments such as Club Penguin, Eve Online, World of Warcraft, Spot on 3D, inWorldz, Sococo, and a host of other virtual platforms. Details on the MOOC are generally posted to the VWBPE MOOC website, although information on the activities for 2014 have yet to be posted – check the main VWBPE website for updates.

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With thanks to Bevan Whitfield

Insanity: inside the Country of the Mind


In his novel Queen of Angels, set at the close of 2047, Greg Bear explores the concept of what he calls, “the Country of the Mind”. This, Bear postulates, is the “ground” for all our thoughts. A kind of virtual reality landscape within us where our “big and little selves” – the personality routines which make up the conscious self, and all of the partial personalities and talents which operate alongside and within our primary personality – reside.  It is a place that can be shaped and refined by those different aspects of our personality as they variously work together or come into dominance – or conflict with one another.

Where the mind is healthy, and the personalities and talents are integrated, the Country of the Mind can be a place of beauty; but where there is illness or damage, and personalities and talents are in flux or chaos, the Country can be  altogether different, the landscape less harmonious, the scenes and images within it more discordant.


Cherry Manga’s Insanity, now open at Per4mance MetaLES may, for some, be an uncomfortable subject. It is an attempt to study the inner workings of a damaged mind; how or why it is damaged – by illness, age, drugs or whatever – isn’t important. The focus is on what occurs within it: the conflicts, confusion, moments of clarity, frustration, and the sense of being somehow broken.

As such it is an intense, sometimes disquieting installation; but it is also deeply compelling, emotive and, at times, quite beautiful.


Set against a bleak, rolling landscape and under a rolling sky, sit a series of vignettes, each striking in its content and message. Some are static, others feature motion while yet others have sections that appear and disappear like shattered – or perhaps unwanted – thoughts. All have their own story to convey – the meaning of which is down to the visitor to interpret. Symbolism is strong here, emotions seep through the landscape and through the pieces (do be sure to have local sounds enabled when visiting).


To me, Insanity is a powerful visualisation of Bear’s Country of the Mind as it might be manifested by a mind in conflict with itself, and as a visitor, I am cast into the role of therapist, seeking to explore and understand – and, eventually, to help. The various scenes and images presented here seem very much to be the “little selves”, the partial personalities and talents, in disarray, each seeking expression or perhaps the comfort of the control of a primary self. a place where amidst the chaos there is still the memory – or hope – of compassion and love.


Insanity is an evocative piece, haunting and moving at one and the same time. As mentioned towards the top of this piece, it may not sit easy with some – but that doesn’t detract from the fact it is well worth a visit.

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Kokua 3.7.4 arrives

kokua-logoOn Friday March 28th, the Kokua viewer updated to version  This sees the viewer come to parity with the SL viewer code releases through to 3.7.4.

This means that Kokua now has:

  • FmodEx updates (SL viewer
  • The most recent MAINT fixes (SL viewer
  • The HTTP updates (SL viewer

In addition, the viewer includes a number of TPV code additions. Note that attributions are given where known.

Avatar Shape Import

You an import previously-saved shapes (XML) via the Edit Shape floater
You an import previously saved shapes (XML) via the Edit Shape floater

This option, from Firestorm, allows you to import an .XML avatar shape from your computer to your inventory.

Shapes are imported via the Import button on the Edit Shape floater.This opens a file picker window, allowing you to navigate to the folder in which the required shape has been saved, and then import it into Kokua.

When importing a shape, please note that it will replace the existing parameters for the shape you are currently wearing, and will be saved on exiting Edit Shape.

If you wish to retain the original shape, make sure you use the Save As button at the bottom of the floater, opposite the Import button, before you import a shape.

If you do forget to save your original shape to a new file name before importing a shape and replacing it, you can use Undo Changes to revert to your original shape. You can then use Save As to create a copy of it in your inventory, prior to re-importing your new shape.

Note that shapes you create can be exported to XML via the Develop menu (Ctrl-Alt-Q) > Avatar > Character Tests > Appearance to XML.

Attachment Inventory Edit

This is a popular TPV capability by Kitty Barnett.

Got a small attachment embedded in your avatar, or which you’ve dropped rather than detached, and cannot find? Go to your inventory, locate the object, right-click on it and select Edit. The edit crosshairs will be displayed over the object, allowing you to reclaim or reposition it.

Other Items of Note

  • Restore items to last position (from Firestorm): if you return an object to inventory by mistake, or delete it from in-world, subject to region permissions, you can now restore it to its last known position by locating it in inventory (use the Restore Item option if it is in your trash can) and then right-clicking on it and selecting Restore to Last Position. Again, note that this will only work if you have rezzing permissions at location 0,0,0 in the region
  • Maximum Frames per Second (MaxFPS) debug setting (from Firestorm): sets a maximum threshold for viewer frame rates to ease loads on GPUs and reduces the  amount of viewer / server traffic. A value of -1.0 sets MaxFPS to off. As a rule, the human eye cannot discern differences in refresh rates above 60 fps
  • A number of defaults have been altered:  Draw Distance Range is now 0 -1024 metres for all slider locations; Object Mesh Detail maximum is increased from 4 to 8; Limit Select Distance is off; Disable Camera Constraints is on; the left toolbar button area is set to align buttons at the bottom
  • The Advanced Build Constraints menu entry is removed and the debug entry is defaulted on due to conflicts and duplications between the Build constraints code and limit overrides set by server-side awareness of Aurora code
  • OpenSim legacy search fixed so that searches which fail to yield a result advance to “Not Found” rather than remaining at “Searching”
  • Crash logging is on but, reports are not being sent. This will allow more detailed crash reports that users may attach to issue tracker reports.

Another compact update for Kokua helping it to maintain parity with emerging SL viewer capabilities and feature while at the same time absorbing several more useful TPV viewer capabilities.

Related Links