The 2022 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference takes place between Thursday, March 31st and Saturday April 2nd, 2022 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. It’s primary goals are to foster discussion on, and learning about educational opportunities presented through the use of such virtual spaces, a defining core values and best practices in doing so, including:
- Helping to build community through extension of learning best practices to practical application of those ideas and techniques;
- Providing networking opportunities for educators and the communities that help support education; and
- Offering access to current innovations, trends, ideas, case studies, and other best practices for educators and the communities that help support education.
In the context of the conference, a “virtual environment” 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.
Each year, the event has a central theme, which for 2022 the organisers describe thus:
Our theme for this year is Phoenix Rising and the exploration of areas outside of our expertise that may be potentially opposed to our current outlook or world view. As educators, we are having to adjust to more than just a transition from in-person to online methodologies. We are facing urgent challenges in the areas of remote classroom management, outdated policies or policies not designed to be applied to online environments, child psychology and welfare in online environments, health and safety considerations, and personal privacy, among others. This means embracing the ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstances and innovative technologies to their best effect.
– From the introduction to VWBPE 2022
As with previous VWBPE conferences, this year’s event includes speakers, workshops, presentations, social activities and more.
The best way to find out what is going on over the three days of the conference is through the VWBPE programme page, However, here are some of the highlights (note: all times SLT, and all events at the VWBPE auditorium – landing points: Auditorium, Area 52; Auditorium, Norganon; Auditorium Skywall – unless otherwise stated):
- March 31st:
- 08:00-08:50: Kick-off event at the VWBPE Gateway.
- 11:00-11:50 SLT: What’s up at the Lab? with Patch Linden and hosted by Kevin Feenan (Phelan Corrimal), VWBPE Director; Rockcliffe University Consortium.
- April 1st:
- 08:30-08:50 SLT: Keynote address – Randall Sadler, Professor of Computer-Assisted Language Learning Telecollaboration (incl. Virtual Worlds and Virtual Reality
- April 2nd:
- 18:00-19050 SLT: Closing ceremony.
If you cannot get in-world to attend any of these or the other major talks and presentations at the conference, note that you can watch them via You Tube – check the VWBPE website for the full schedule of live streams (also available on YouTube).
For 2022, the conference uses the same as the past two years, with some additional twists. The following is a quick run-down of some of core facilities.
- The VWBPE Gateway: located on the ground level, the Gateway offers a main landing point for in-coming visitors, complete with a swag bag for arrivals available through several givers.
- The VWBPE Auditorium: with three access points (Auditorium, Area 52; Auditorium, Norganon; Auditorium Skywall), the auditorium is an asteroid that has a cloud of debris floating before it – just click one of the little rocks and take a seat!
- The VWBPE Social Spaceport: the spaceport is the main entertainment centre for the conference, and offers rides and freebies and opportunities to relax.
- Social events at this year’s conference features a number of special activities, including:
- The Gallery 360 Photo Event.
- Moonwalk on Koray – defy gravity with this walk around a moon.
- Phoenix Exhibit Hunt – find the phoenix eggs among the exhibits.
- Rocket Ride – fly a rocket through asteroid fields, past the moons of Lyra Prime, through a worm hole, and landing at the docks of the Lyra Prime spaceport.
- And more – details in the information packs available at the Gateway!
The conference also includes lecture and workshop spaces and locations for presentations, all of which can be accessed via the teleport HUD and the gateway teleport kiosks.
The Teleport HUD
As noted above, the VWBPE teleport HUD is the best way of getting around the facilities. It can be obtained via the swag bag givers at the VWBPE Gateway and is delivered to inventory in a folder. Open the folder and right-click → ADD the HUD. Note that you will need to grant teleport permissions for it to work.
By default, the teleport HUD attaches to the bottom of the viewer window, with three buttons available (Help and Detach are self-explanatory).
Click the Main button to display the full HUD (which can be minimised again by clicking the Hide button, displayed when the HUD is fully in view). This comprises two sections:
- On the left, a display of primary options (shown above). Clicking on any of the buttons in this section will following: display a further list of options (teleport or web page links). Use the Main button to return to the primary set of options again, when required.
- One the right, a changing display of event sponsors – clicking on a name displayed in this section will display a link in the viewer’s top right corner to an associated web browser page about the sponsor.
The primary set of options comprise the following (note: at the time of testing, Special and Administration were both blank, and so are ignored below):
- Teleport to Gateway: go directly to the VWBPE gateway station, where you can grab freebies (if you’ve not already done so) and use the teleport kiosks inside the main building, meet with friends, etc.
- Stations: displays buttons for all of the conference facilities except the main auditorium. Click one of the buttons to be teleported to the named location.
- Auditorium: displays the three teleports to the main auditorium.
- Social: displays the teleport to the space station and other social elements.
- Exhibits: teleports to the conference exhibition spaces.
- Sponsors: displays a set of teleports to the exhibition spaces of the conference’s major sponsors.
- Post-Conference Survey: offers a link in the viewer’s top right corner to an associated web browser page, where attendees can offer feedback on the conference.
To keep up-to-date with the conference, be sure to check the VWBPE website daily.