VWBPE 2017: call for volunteers; attendee registration

Image courtesy of VWBPE
Image courtesy of VWBPE

The 2017  Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference will be taking place between Wednesday, March 29th and Saturday April 1st, 2017 inclusive. A grass-roots community event focusing on education in immersive virtual environments, VWBPE attracts 2200-3500 educational professionals from around the world each year.

In the context of the conference, a “virtual world” is an on-line community through which users can interact with one another and use and create ideas irrespective of time and space. As such, typical examples include Second Life, OpenSimulator, Unity, World of Warcraft, Eve Online, and so on, as well as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest or any virtual environments characterised by an open social presence and in which the direction of the platform’s evolution is manifest in the community.

Image courtesy of VWBPE
Image courtesy of VWBPE

2017 is a special year for VWBPE, marking its tenth anniversary. With this in mind, the overarching them for the four days is that of Legacy. However, in order to the event to proceed smoothly, help is always required and welcomed. To this end, the organisers have put out a Call for Volunteers to help fill the numerous vacancies in the following areas:

  • Hosts (formerly known as Meet & Greet)
  • Mentors
  • Quadrivium Facilitator
  • Quadrivium Assistant
  • Technical Support
  • Volunteer Media Stream Team

For more information about each role and to sign up, please visit the VWBPE Call for Volunteers web page, which includes a sign-up form. Note that full training for volunteers will be provided, and volunteers will be contacted by a member of the VWBPE team, who will provide more information of the training and dates, schedule sign-ups, and a couple of Volunteer Committee events volunteers will be welcome to attend.

Registrations and Sponsorship Social

Also, remember that conference registrations are open, and there will be a special Sponsorship Social  – The Roaring Twenties – on Thursday, February 16th at 17:00, hosted by Rockcliffe University. If you would like to attend or find out more, please visit the VWBPE Sponsorship Social web page.

Additional Links

Cica’s Frogs in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Frogs
Cica Ghost: Frogs

Frogs, Cica Ghost’s latest region-wide installation in Second Life opened on Sunday, February 5th. After the poignant, provocative Burning (which you can read about here), Frogs sees Cica in a lighter mood, with a little play on fairy stories – albeit with a little touch of pathos.

Across one of Cica’s familiar undulating landscapes sits a huge house. Or at least, part of a huge house. We’ll return to that in a moment.  A few trees, some a little scrawny, others tall or fat, are scattered across the landscape, some with their trunks ringed by flat circles of round stones. But these hold the attention for the first few seconds after arrival, before eyes are drawn inevitably to the frogs of the title. Given their size, they are a little hard to miss!

Cica Ghost: Frogs
Cica Ghost: Frogs

By default, seven of the amphibians occupy the region, sitting either individually or in little groups, their croaking filling the air as they bounce up and down on their hind legs as little children might seem to rise and fall when suffering a bad case of hiccups.  All of them crouch with forelegs folded over the top of pot bellies, mere bumps caught between belly and folds of fleshy throats. Wide-eyed and horned, six of these frogs are green, while the seventh sits alone and aloof, upon the stump of a tree. Its skin glistening and brown, it stares out to sea unaware that it is being watched by one of Cica’s crows, also perched on a tree stump.

It’s a wonderful, whimsical sight – although it is hard to know quite what to make of it on first sight. But then the fact that it brings a smile to one’s lips, and the opportunity to join in the fun by donning the free frog avatar Cica provides at the landing point, and go hopping off across the landscape is reason enough to simply enjoy the moment.

Cica Ghost: Frogs
Cica Ghost: Frogs

It is at the aforementioned huge wall where the mood shifts. The side facing the landing point has a little girl dressed in a simply knitted dress, feet shod in heavy boots, drawing what might be a self-portrait upon it: a little girl dreaming of a prince who might sweep her away to a different life. On the far side of the wall (touch the huge door if it is not open when you arrive), we catch a glimpse of her threadbare life, complete with an image of times past.

The juxtaposition between the poignancy surrounding the little girl and the whimsy of the frogs is striking, while the link to childhood fairy stories so subtle it might at first glance be overlooked – but it is there. If you need more convincing of the connection between little girls and the frogs hop (so to speak) onto the table in front of her little girl, and make a choice. Might it even be that the lone brown frog is, in her imagination, an enchanted prince, hence its difference to the rest of the frogs on the island?

Cica Ghost: Frogs
Cica Ghost: Frogs

Frogs is another gem from Cica, offering a gentle blending of humour and pathos, where visitors themselves can become a part of the scene. Should you pay a visit, do offer a donation towards Cica’s work so more delights like this can be shared.

SLurl Details

  • Frogs (Aggramar, rated:  Moderate)

Can you help the East River Community in Second Life?

East River Community
East River Community

Located on the mainland continent of Sansara, the East River Community (ERC) will this year celebrate its ninth year of operations in Second Life – although it can trace its roots as far back as 2006 with the MBYC, one of the first sailing clubs in Second Life – and sailing remains very much a part of the ERC’s activities.

Comprising a federation of groups, the intent within East River has always been to create an open, collaborative and convivial space for residents and businesses, nurturing the growth of relationships, friendships, personal projects, and encouraging collaborative activities  with both members and non-members of the community.

ERC has always been particularly engaged in fostering cultural activities and in enhancing the Mainland experience by demonstrating an attractive residential and commercial environment can be created purely through resident action. Newcomers are always welcome to explore the community’s regions, which offer a wide variety of public spaces including art galleries, cafés horse riding tracks, entertainment venues, nautical events, a harbour and airport for boating / flying enthusiasts and, for those wanting to get their first taste of water-based activities, a variety of free-access zero-cost boating.

Arriving at one of East River Community's airfields
Arriving at one of East River Community’s airfields

One of the mainstays of ERC has been its founder, Indigo Mertel – who has also contributed immensely to the Second Life community as a whole through a wide range of user-focused activities from establishing and building East River through to her work in curating and disseminating Second Life news form a wide range of notable sources, to the benefit of all users.

Indigo Mertal by Paola Tauber
Indigo Mertal by Paola Tauber

Not only did Indigo found East River, and has been active within the community throughout its live and growth, she has been responsible for holding and managing six of the community’s regions, including meetings much of the financial cost in maintaining them. She recently contacted me with some sad news – and with her permission, I’m reprinting it here in the hope that one or more people might be able to step forward and help.

“I’ve been contributing to the East River Community with land for years,” Indigo revealed in a note she passed out to bloggers on Sunday, February 5th. “But many things have changed in my physical life these past months, and I am now in the sad position of no longer able to contribute to the community as I have done in the past.

“I’ve procrastinated this decision for a long time, because I was very uncomfortable with the idea of harming or breaking a community many have put so much effort into helping to build. But eventually, I had to come to a decision.

“We all want the East River Community to survive, and so I’m putting out a call to everyone, both within ERC and beyond, in the hope we can find donors willing to offer tier to the group so that East River can continue to be a vibrant part of Second Life. And with this in mind, I intend to continue covering the costs involved for a limited time, so that those with a desire to help ERC can contact me directly.”

If you are in a position to help ensure ERC continues as we know it today, regardless of whether you are active in the community or not, please contact Indigo in-world.

You can find out a lot more about ERC by visiting the ERC website, and by watching a Designing Worlds special on the community, which I’ve embedded below.