The 9th annual Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference will take place between Wednesday, March 9th, 2016 and Saturday, March 12th, 2016 inclusive. A global grass-roots community event focusing on education in immersive virtual environments which attracts 2200-3500 educational professionals from around the world each year.
The conference will be primarily hosted on Second Life with additional and special events also being hosted by AvaCon Grid, and the conference programme is now available. Highlights of the latter include:
Wednesday, March 9th
17:00 – Signalling a New Reality with Bronwyn Stuckey: “a look at some of the signals in the past year of a blurring of what is virtual. I have always been the person to call out people who use the real and virtual dichotomy, much preferring to use real and physical. That last year has produced many signals that show even these poles might become redundant. I hope the example we look at in the keynote will trigger your imaginations and help challenge many of the assumptions we hold about the place of our work in virtual worlds. These are the things that could readily be on our horizons so much sooner than we think. For us as educators it is less about keeping abreast of the technological advances but having audacious goals and imaginings. Intrigued? Come along and let’s share our visions!”
Bronwyn Stuckey has been engaged in educational community and games in learning development for the past 15 years. She has worked to explore virtual worlds, games in learning and how we can cultivate identity, agency, citizenship, leadership, and community for students and teachers.
Since leaving lecturing and learning design in the higher education sector her research, consultation and design have been in gamification and game-inspired designs for classroom contexts and professional learning and communities of practice. She is a current post-doctoral research fellow of the Arizona State University Centre for Games & Impact and independently consults to global groups like Intel and Microsoft programs and education communities.
18:00 – Grid Watch with Ebbe: Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab CEO, will discuss issues of importance to the Second Life communities. His primary aim for the session, however, is to listen to Second Life residents and respond to questions.
Thursday, March 10th
14:00 – OpenSimulator Featured Panel: Cynthia Calongne, Selby Evans, Stephen Gasior and Maria Korolev engage in a discussion on the different perspectives of people who use OpenSimulator as an alternative, or in addition to, Second Life. This will be a thoughtful discussion on dedication, awareness, perception, and opportunity of the various communities of OpenSimulator.
17:00 – Virtual Worlds on the Go with Stephen Downes: In this presentation Stephen Downes examines the intersection of learning, performance support, and mobile virtual worlds and simulations and discusses the real world applications for this technology, describing a variety of learning scenarios, and background and infrastructure needed to support such a system. Additionally, he examines the role of educators and content publishers, identifying the need for institutions to provide learning support and scaffolding to draw out the benefits of what might be called virtual worlds on the go.
Stephen Downes is a specialist in on-line learning technology and new media. He speaks from practical experience both as a college and university teacher and the author of learning management and content syndication software. He has developed and deployed a series of progressively more innovative technologies, beginning with multi-user domains (MUDs) in the 1990s, open on-line communities in the 2000s, and personal learning environments in the 2010s. As a teacher and designer, he is also known as the originator of the Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC). As a theorist, he is known as a leading proponent of connectivism, a theory describing how people know and learn using network processes. He has published hundreds of articles on-line and in print and has presented around the world to academic conferences in dozens of countries on five continents.
Friday, March 11th
13:00 – Reaching the Engagement Horizon in Virtual Worlds: Crafting Engagement Through Games and Gamification with Karl Kapp: The use of games for learning seems like a good match, but we can’t blindly take it for granted. Instead, we need to explore questions to make sure the intuitive link between games, gamification and virtual worlds reaches its full potential. In this keynote, we’ll answer questions like: How does one mix virtual world and game-based learning experiences? How should games be integrated into a curriculum? Can attitudes and behaviour change result from playing a game in a virtual world? What elements of games can learning designers borrow from game designers? Can flying around as a superhero in a virtual world make you a nicer person? Discover evidence-based techniques for increasing on-line engagement, interactivity and, most importantly, learning.
Karl Kapp, Ed.D., is a full-professor of Instructional Technology at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA. He teaches subjects related to games, gamification and learning technologies, and is also the director of Bloomsburg’s Institute for Interactive Technologies, working with organisations to create interactive instruction including games and simulations, co-founder of educational game company 2Klearning.com and founder of The Wisdom Learning Group. He has authored or co-authored six books, and served as a Co-Principle Investigator on two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants related to games and simulations and serves as an external evaluator on a third game-related NSF grant.
Saturday, March 12th
18:00 – Closing Ceremony and Thinkerer Award Winner Annoucement: closing remarks from Phelan Corrimal and other VWBPE Committee Chairs, the opportunity to learn about VWBPE 2017 and hear the 2016 Thinkerer Award recipient announced.
Registration and Passport to the Metaverse
Those wishing to attend VWBPE 2016 are strongly encouraged by the organisers to register (free of charge or donations towards costs accepted).
Passport to the Metaverse offers the opportunity to explore nine interactive and engaging locations on the Horizons of teaching and learning. Opening of Sunday, February 28th, and running through to Sunday, March 20th inclusive (but exclusive of the conference dates), details on these experiences can be found on the VWBPE website and in the conference programme.