VWBPE 2021: Grumpity and Brett Linden

VWBPE 2021

On Saturday, March 20th, 2021, the final of three sessions featuring Linden Lab staff took place at the 2021 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference. Whilst the the third session overall, this was actually the second of a double series entitled Reconnaissance with the Lab, and featured Grumpity Linden, VP of Product and Brett Linden, VP of Marketing, the first having been held on Friday, March 19th, which saw Patch Linden, VP of Product Operations and Madori Linden, Product Specialist (Land Operations) joining Grumpity and Brett.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session. however, as some discussion points followed directly on from the Friday March 19th, discussion, it should be read in reference to my summary of that meeting as well.

As always, time stamps are also provided to the relevant points in the video for those who wish to listen to specific comments.

The Attendees

Grumpity Linden

Grumpity Linden heads up Second Life Product, where she has overseen a shift to growth, a stronger, more balanced economy, movement towards better community cohesion, and an overall forward-looking approach.

Prior to working for Linden Lab (first joining as a contractor in 2009 and then full-time in 2014), she was involved in a number of industries, including technology, higher education, and oil & gas. She enjoys exploring worlds both virtual and physical and takes pride in building bridges – personal and professional.

Grumpity holds a Master’s in Computer Science and a Bachelor’s from same in Computer Science & Psychology, both from Johns Hopkins University. She finds leading the Second Life product a joy because it allows her to draw on both areas of study.

As VP of marketing, Brett Linden manages the team responsible for developing media campaigns and strategic content partnerships for Second Life. Together they focus on both the acquisition of new users and the retention of existing users for the virtual world.

Brett Linden

In the past decade, he has produced numerous virtual and “mixed reality” events and panels on various academic topics with an emphasis on legitimising and better surfacing the many cultures and communities within virtual environments.

From Rolling Stone to Billboard, Brett has also written for major publications and managed multimedia initiatives for Amazon.com and RealNetworks. He has co-founded numerous media sites on-line, including the Second Life Destination Guide and Rolling Stone Radio. As a co-founding editor at Billboard.com, he interviewed Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Shania Twain, and Bjork.

Dealing with Griefing

[Video: 10:04-19:09]

  • Grumpity:
    • The Governance User Group offers a monthly forum in-world for region / estate holders (and general users) to discuss matters of security, griefing, abuse reporting, etc. Meetings are held monthly on the third Tuesday of the month at 13:00 SLT (at the time of writing).
    • Specific issues can also be raised through the Support channel, or can be passed to Madori Linden, who will in turn pass them on to the Governance and Land teams.
    • For specialised environments, such as regions operated by educators, non-profits, business organisations, etc., the best way to secure a region or estate is via the RegAPI [see below for more on this].
    • With regards to griefing via voice – specifically things like voice channel hijacking – LL has worked extensively with the Voice API provider, Vivox, to prevent / eliminate such issues a lot more readily.

What is the RegAPI?

[Video 11:48-17:21]

  • RegAPI is a means for organisations that need to to provide dedicated, controlled access to Second Life to their users.
  • Organisations are assigned a keycode by the Lab. This can used in conjunction with the Second Life registration form (web page) the organisation designs to connect to the Second Life account registration process and then, and as required:
    • Define: the group new-sign-ups are assigned to.
    • Limit created accounts to only accessing the defined region / estate, and block them from teleporting away from it.
    • Control the avatar options available to new-sign-ups.
    • Control access to associated services within the viewer such as the voice stream.
  • The sign-up form can be hosted directly by the organisation concerned within their own environment (thus controlling access to it).
  • The process can also lock access to the defined region / estate from being accessed by accounts not created using the organisation’s dedicated key.
  • Linden Lab does not directly provide turnkey registration forms for clients, but can provide more general assistance where required.

Accessibility – Those with Disabilities & for whom English is a Second Language

[Video: 19:22-25:37]

  • Grumpity:
    • LL is constantly trying to improve accessibility.
    • Now the majority of the work in moving SL to AWS has been completed, there is potential scope to further address accessibility, including looking at some of the available third-party tools that can be integrated into the SL product – previously, the Lab has attempted to provide dedicated solutions for some issues, but then maintenance and upkeep became problematic, so third-party tools are now seen a preferable way forward.
    • There is no definitive road map as to what may be tried / addressed at present, but the Product team is now far better placed to look at potential options in discussion with involved communities within SL (e.g. educators, Virtual Ability, etc.).
    • In general, LL are very aware that there are many different uses and needs that can be addressed by Second Life by many different individuals and communities, many of who may have specific access requirements, so accessibility is very much a part of thinking at the lab.

New Users: On-Boarding and Experience

[Video: 26:23-37:07]

  • Grumpity:
    • The Lab is working on a new on-boarding experience, but it is not yet ready for deployment.
    • This has been developed not only as a means of updating the new user experience, but also looking at what people actually need to have a successful initial experience with Second Life.
      • So rather than focusing on the basics, like avatar movement, which most people with even a basic exposure to playing games can likely work out for themselves, the focus is more on social interactions – starting a conversation, for example.
    • Connected to this new on-boarding experience are:
      • A cleaning-up the viewer UI, allowing the more essential elements to be better identified and more logical.
      • An overhauling the avatar customisation process to make it easier for incoming users to create a basic look they are happy with.
    • An overall aim of all of this work is to reduce some of the multiple ways in which certain common tasks can be completed, in order to help flatten the curve of Second Life being “complicated” to learn.
    • There is also the Community Gateway programme as well, which provides an important means of bringing users into SL Life, and which Linden Lab monitors and takes lessons from, as well as carrying out testing within their own on-boarding process.

Questions Arising

Is there effort to create a browser-capable grid to flatten the learning curve?

  • Grumpity:
    • LL is working towards a possible partnership that will allow for a streaming solution  for Second Life. This is not something that can be discussed in detail at present, but would love to talk more about it Soon™.
    • In terms of mobile devices, the nature of SL means than any dedicated experience via a ‘phone is going to be less than ideal – ideally a keyboard and mouse are required, but it is being explored. [Again, the Lab has an active project to bring Second Life to both iOS and Android, initially as a basic communications tool.]
  • Brett: streaming is an area that has expanded over the last 12+ months, with multiple companies moving into the space, allowing dialogues to take place. Among other things, the Lab recognises the need to be on more lightweight client systems (such as Chromebook) when addressing areas such as education.

Why are there no up-to-date videos on how to do things in Second Life and on the communities,  etc?

  • Brett: there is a series of New User tutorials by Strawberry Linden that are just over a year old, and which are available in multiple languages. These will likely be refreshed every 18-24 months.

How Can the Education Community Help with Marketing SL?

[Video: 38:45-44:39]

  • Brett:
    • Anyone with ideas, comments or constructive critique about SL marketing are invited to contact the Marketing team.
    • There is also the potential for in-world meetings between community leaders and members of the Marketing team to discuss ideas and options, etc.
    • There is a lot going on in marketing: this year will see a new general consumer campaign to reinvigorate the SL brand. Some of this has started to roll out,  such as developing new social media partnerships and other outreach efforts.
    • Further community exposure can be obtained by being a part of stories the Lab either pitch to the media, or are approached about by the media to provide. In  particularly, success stories about how SL is being used, innovative or novel ways in which the platform is made use of, are of particular interest.
    • Now is actually a good time for such stories, as the pandemic has lead to and increased / renewed media interest in the platform and its potential.
    • In terms of marketing within SL, there are multiple options to help promote work / use / events, from the Destination Guide through to the Lab Gab live stream sessions.
  • Grumpity [49:40-50:10]: in terms of general liaison between the Lab and the educational community, there has been discussion about establishing a dedicated Discord channel, and feedback from educators (via Madori Linden) is sought.

Costs and Pricing

[Video: 45:57-48:45]

  • Grumpity:
    • It was “misguided” to have removed the non-profit  / educational discount [June 2011], and equally very important to see it returned [in 2013] as soon as the Lab could do so.
    • In  March 2020, a flat monthly fee of $99 was introduced for educational and non-profit  organisations, and the Lab has no plans to increase this.
    • However, the narrative that has circulated that costs to the Lab would be reduced as a result of the move to AWS, isn’t accurate; while it removes the high level of capital expenditure LL must make in new hardware every several years, it does not reduce the basic operating costs for the service as a whole. Ergo, there are no plans to reduce prices.

VWBPE 2021: Grumpity, Patch, Brett and Madori Linden

VWBPE 2021

On Friday, March 19th, 2021 , the second of three sessions featuring Linden Lab staff took place at the 2021 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference. Whilst the second session overall, this was actually the first of a double series entitled Reconnaissance with the Lab and took the shape of a round table discussion with from members of Linden Lab’s staff: Grumpity Linden, VP of Product, Brett Linden, VP of Marketing, Patch Linden, VP of Product Operations and Madori Linden, Product Specialist (Land Operations).

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session, which is embedded at the end of this article. Time stamps are also provided to the relevant points in the video for those who wish to listen to specific comments.

The focal point for the session were four questions, which form the topic headings in this summary:

  • What is Linden Lab excited about that will be of interest to educators and VWBPE community members?
  • What is the greatest concern about education in virtual environments like Second Life right now?
  • How can educators and the VWBPE community work with Linden Lab in creating and supporting vibrant and engaging learning environments?
  • What can educators and the VWBPE community look forward to in the next year?

Note: the second of these Reconnaissance discussions is summarised here.

The Attendees

Grumpity Linden heads up Second Life Product, where she has overseen a shift to growth, a stronger, more balanced economy, movement towards better community cohesion, and an overall forward-looking approach.

Prior to working for Linden Lab (first joining as a contractor in 2009 and then full-time in 2014), she was involved in a number of industries, including technology, higher education, and oil & gas. She enjoys exploring worlds both virtual and physical and takes pride in building bridges – personal and professional.

Grumpity holds a Master’s in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s from same in Computer Science & Psychology. She finds leading the Second Life product a joy because it allows her to draw on both areas of study.

Patch Linden is Vice President of Product Operations at Linden Lab where he works to bring the best of product and support decisions on a daily operational basis to the virtual world platform for Second Life. He also maintains oversight on how all of the various teams within Linden Lab can best work together for the highest good of the Residents and the business.

Patch started as a Resident in 2004 before joining Linden Lab in 2007. Prior to joining Linden Lab, he held leadership roles focused on customer service and product development where he always maintained a customer-first focus while striving to deliver best-in-class products and services. He has a deep passion for creativity and uses that to bring enjoyment to others. He continues to evolve his skills to include virtual worlds, 3D Design, 3D printing, modelling, photography and videography.

Grumpity, Patch, Brett and Madori (individual images via Linden Lab)

As VP of marketing, Brett Linden manages the team responsible for developing media campaigns and strategic content partnerships for Second Life. Together they focus on both the acquisition of new users and the retention of existing users for the virtual world. In the past decade, he has produced numerous virtual and “mixed reality” events and panels on various academic topics with an emphasis on legitimising and better surfacing the many cultures and communities within virtual environments.

From Rolling Stone to Billboard, Brett has also written for major publications and managed multimedia initiatives for Amazon.com and RealNetworks. He has co-founded numerous media sites on-line, including the Second Life Destination Guide and Rolling Stone Radio. As a co-founding editor at Billboard.com, he interviewed Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Shania Twain, and Bjork.

Madori Linden is a product specialist on the Land Operations team. Among other things , she works with educators and various types of specialty regions; from their inception and development to maintenance and support.

Her LBL (Life Before Linden) was a winding path to Second Life. She studied Socio Cultural Anthropology with a specialisation in fringe societies within techoology. The contacts made there led to a career in marketing and being the co-owner of an event production company Having children brought her back full circle to education. Second Life was the vehicle for all of those passions to merge.

She works towards making sure that #AVVILEARNING (avatar virtual learning) won’t be just an idea, but part of the future of learning.

What is Linden Lab excited about that will be of interest to educators and VWBPE community members?

[Video: 6:10-24:23]

  • Patch: the new energy the new ownership is putting in the platform and the investment on the table to take Second Life to new heights.
  • Grumpity:
    • Excited by completing the transition to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the continuing work to optimise Second Life in it new environment.
    • Also the potential for the AWS environment to perhaps offer new products as the company moves forward.
    • The transition took several years to complete, consuming a lot of engineering effort, and it offers the potential to enhance the longevity of Second Life using the best hardware and infrastructure available.
  • Brett:
    • Also excited by the energy within LL that is being driven by the new board. Especially impressed by the way Brad Oberwager (board member and Executive Chairman) frames his thinking in a very customer-centric way (“Hows does this benefit the users? How does it benefit SL?”).
    • The ability to stream content into Second Life, as originally demonstrated in the Adult Swim streaming of episodes from The Shivering Truth in May 2020. This is a capability that has meaningful enterprise and educational applications
  • Madori: not so much excited by given the circumstances, but pleased in the way people have seen Second Life as a means to maintain contact while socially distanced. In this, the incoming new owners with their drive to grow the platform has been fortuitous.

What is the greatest concern about education in virtual environments like Second Life right now?

[Video: 14:13-22:11]

  • Patch: safety. Fortunately, SL has a lot of capabilities to help with this and keeping students safe. The foremost is the RegAPI capabilities, which can be used to create a dedicated on-boarding experience. This allows for elements such as custom name accounts, making identification easier, limiting the number of accounts an organisation is bringing into SL, deliver users directly to a defined in-world location. There’s also the ability to lock regions from being accessed by others and to prevent students leaving the learning spaces, etc.
  • Brett: not a concern, but what has been noticed is that some educators have noted that using second Life as a medium is less intrusive than expecting parents to put heir young children in front of a camera for remote schooling.
  • Grumpity: echoes Brett’s comments, noting that teenagers as well can feel exposed in having to face a camera and be observed by others in close details, whereas SL embodies a freer sense of presence, one that is perhaps more familiar to teenagers today, who have a lot more exposure to have an on-line presence, whilst also maintaining a sense of distance / privacy that can be important.

Questions Arising

Will there be a renewed push, with allocated staff support, for growth in Community Gateways featuring direct SL registration?

  • Madori: the support is already there. In fact, there is a new community gateway that started on Friday, March 19th.

Any thoughts to bring back something like TEEN Grid – where there was more protection for young folks?

  • Grumpity: Teen Grid doesn’t provide the same level of protection and unique features as found in the RegAPI capability.

Many students are using Chromebook and similar, which cannot easily run SL. Is this being addressed?

  • Grumpity: this is understood, and LL are looking to find a potential partner who can help achieve this [streaming solution], as well as internal efforts to being SL to mobile devices [e.g. tablets with keyboard input for a fuller educational experience]

How can educators and the VWBPE community work with Linden Lab in creating and supporting vibrant and engaging learning environments?

[Video: 24:38-36:42]

  • Madori: if you have specific ideas that may benefit SL – reach out to the Lab; it may be something that is feasible and could benefit the community as a whole. LL can better visualise needs by hearing about them.
  • Brett:
    • From a Marketing and communications aspect, is extremely interested in hearing about case studies, success stories and innovative uses of the platform that can both help promote the community concerned and demonstrate the relevance of SL.
    • Lab Gab is a potential opportunity for educators to tell their stories to the wider SL audience.
  • Grumpity:
    • Would be every interested in finding out more about the learning management tools educators use and what they are looking for in learning platforms and tools – although the volume that were suggested by the audience illustrates the problems in trying to offer a solution that will satisfy all needs.
    • Also wanted to mention the turnkey solutions LL have developed specifically for educators. These can be found at Explore Second Life.

Continue reading “VWBPE 2021: Grumpity, Patch, Brett and Madori Linden”

VWBPE 2021: Patch Linden – the board, Second Life, and more

VWBPE 2021

On Thursday, March 18th, 2021 Patch Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Product Operations and a member of the company’s management team, attended the 2021 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference in the first of three special events featuring representative from Linden Lab.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session, which is embedded at the end of this article. Time stamps to the video are also provided to the relevant points in the video for those who wish to listen to specific comments.

Notes:

  • This is a summary, not a full transcript, and items have been grouped by topic, so may not be presented chronologically when compared to the video.
  • In places, information that is supplementary to Patch’s comments is provided in square braces (i.e. [ and ]) are used in the body text below to indicate where this is the case.

Linden Lab’s New Board

[Video: 4:04-10:55]

[For additional information on the new board members, please also see: Meet Linden Lab’s new board of directors (January 9th, 2021) and Linden Lab’s board of directors: snippets of news (February 4th, 2021).]

Linden Lab’s board of directors (l to r): Brad Oberwager, J. Randall Waterfield and Raj Date
  • New ownership team is a “joy to work with”.
  • Brad Oberwager is particularly active, and has the avatar name Oberwolf Linden  and is described as “a lot of fun” to be around and to work with. [He is both on the board and serves as Executive Chairman on the management team.]
Brad Oberwager has joined the Lab’s management team as Executive Chairman, and his long-time colleague, Cammy Bergren serving as Chief of Staff
  • As Executive Chairman Brad Oberwager’s aim is to see Second life set as the “largest and best” virtual world,  and has a genuine love for the platform.
  • Both J. Randal Waterfield and Raj Date (particularly) appear to lean more towards the Tilia Pay side of things, with Brad Oberwager more “in the middle”. However, this doesn’t mean there is a dichotomy. Tilia is a key component of Second Life (it runs the entire Linden Dollar eosystem), and Tilia’s own success and growth will benefit SL.
    • [Tilia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Linden Research (Linden Lab). It’s board comprises two members of the Linden Research Board: Brad Oberwager and Raj Date), together with Aston Waldman, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Linden Lab. The management team comprises: members of the the Lab’s management team: Aston Waldman, David Kim, Ray Johnson, Emily Stonehouse and Brett Attwood.]
    • The two entities enjoy a symbiotic relationship: Tilia is owned by Linden Research with Linden Research also a primary customer. However, day-to-day operations are carried out by two separate  teams.
  • [48:48-49:59] The new owners are bringing a tremendous new energy to Linden Lab, and are “super enthusiastic” about growing Second Life, including its educational use. What gets to be invested in the platform will only benefit everyone.
    • The key question Brad Oberwager asks and prompts people to ask is, “How will it benefit the residents, and how will it benefit Second Life?”

SL Short-Term and Longer Term

Priorities for the Second Life Team in the Next 12 Months

[Video: 10:57-16:02]

  • Immediate priority is to increase the Second Life active user base. This is very much being driven as a goal by Brad Oberwager, and includes:
    • “Drilling down into” the new user experience.
    • Refactoring the on-boarding process and orientation islands.
    • The work will include viewer-side changes that are intended to “smooth out a lot of the bumps in the road”.
    • The will will be built on two years of active study and A/B testing to try to determine what the on-boarding path should look like, together with learning from users returning to Second life as a a result of the SARS-CoV-2 impact.
    • It is hoped this work will both help LL improve user retention and also feed through to the community gateways, particularly with regards to the upcoming changes which will be made to the viewer.
    • No specifics provided, but the viewer changes are described as:
      • “New UIs”
      • Refreshed looks.
      • Easier to find information.
  • There is also the need to complete the work of transitioning to AWS – fixing the current issues directly related to the move and also on-going work to properly leverage the AWS environment for the benefit of the platform.
    • [29:24-30:00] This work includes a  lot of under-the-hood simulator performance improvements that will be continuing throughout the year.

Second Life in Five Years Time

[Video: 16:04-19:33]

  • The company would like to at least double the active user population over the next 3-5 years.
  • This is seen as a realistic goal in light of the shift in emphasis seen within business, education, etc., from purely physical world interactions towards more digitally-based interactions / hybrid opportunities that mix various formats [e.g. digital + virtual + remote working / learning].
  • AWS offers the potential for regions to be geographically located around the world, potentially bringing them closer to their core audience.
    • This could allow educational regions, for example, to be hosted much closer to the schools / colleges / students they serve, making them more responsive.
    • This approach could potentially start to be used towards the end of 2021.
  • Further out, geolocating regions could potentially offer the ability for the Lab to offer white label grids to specific customers / groups.
  • [24:00-28:25] White label grids present the opportunity for the Lab to better meet specific client requests to remove features and capabilities from the viewer – and also take features an capabilities required for a specific environment and potentially make them available across the entire Second Life product.
    • Two examples of the latter already exists: the new extended chat range feature available to region owners, and the Chrome Embedded Framework updates that allow video to be streamed into Second Life, as originally demonstrated in the Adult Swim streaming of episodes from The Shivering Truth in May 2020.

What Lessons has LL Learned due to the Pandemic?

[Video: 20:31-24:00]

  • The pandemic, particularly as a result of attempts to leverage the platform for education, business and similar use by organisations and groups, reinforced the fact that the new user experience needs to the overhauled.
  • It has also underlined the fact that people’s usage habits have changed.
  • The Land Team in particular has learned a lot about business, etc., needs of clients – the team deals directly with such requests as they come in to the Lab, and so have been dealing first-hand with understanding client requirements, determining the best for of assistance (e.g. providing one of the Lab’s turn-key solutions or brokering contact between the client and a solution provider who can meet their requirements.

Pricing and Options

[Video: 30:27-34:17]

  • Nothing on the roadmap related to pricing; land costs should remain untouched through the rest of the year.
  • There is the potential for AWS to allow the Lab to develop new region products; this is something that may start to be looked at 12-24 months hence.
  • AWS might also allow for on-demand spin-up of regions, initially building on the idea of Homestead holders being able to take a temporary upgrade to a Full region to run a specific event, then downsizing back to a Homestead.

Competition and Experimentation

[Video: 34:39-45:58]

  • Competition helps drive innovation.
  • There is no Lab-based group specifically tasked with investigation competitive platforms, but staff tend to try them out through their own interest.
  • Attention is paid to how other platforms adopt newer technologies and the challenges encountered in such adoptions.
  • There is still no real, direct competitor to Second Life in terms of size, flexibility of use, or in having an in-built content creation tool set.
  • LL don’t regard users as beta testers per se. However, major new features do require trialling / testing, which can involve selected users / tried at scale to determine feasibility / performance, etc. Sometimes the result is a capability has to be withdrawn as it is not performant enough (e.g. the VR headset viewer) and / or negatively impacts the user experience.

Oz Linden’s Departure

[Video: 46:09-46:56]

  • Oz was a fabulous colleague to work with. His retirement leaves a “gaping chasm” at the Lab.

Previewing the VWBPE 2021 conference in Second Life

VWBPE 2021

The 2021 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference takes place between Thursday, March 18th and Saturday March 20th, 2019 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.

Carrying the theme of Reconnaissance, the conference will, as usual, take place in a group of dedicated regions, and will comprise its usual engaging programme of events and activities.

VWBPE Gateway

Programme

As with previous VWBPE conferences, Reconnaissance includes keynote speakers, workshops, presentations, social events 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 SkywallLP – unless otherwise stated):

  • Thursday, March 18th
    • 08:00-09:00 – Kick Off and Ribbon Cutting: the official opening of the conference during which the Conference Executive and Organisation Committees will share a few of the upcoming highlights at the VWBPE 2021 Gateway.
    • 09:00-09:50 – KEYNOTE: About the History of Virtual Reality and the Meaning of VR for Education, Dr. Undine Frömming (angenblick Winkler SL); HMKW Berlin, University of Applied Science for Media, Communication and Management.
    • 15:00-15:50Above the Book: What’s up at the Lab? – Patch Linden, VP of Product Operations.
  • Friday, March 19th
  • Saturday, March 20th
    • 09:00-05:00 – KEYNOTE: Reconnoitering higher education’s next generation – Bryan Alexander (Bryan Zelmanov SL).
    • 15:00-15:50 – Reconnaissance with the Lab – Brett Linden, VP of Marketing; Grumpity Linden, VP of Product. Taking place at Quadrivium.

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 You Tube live streams.

VWBPE Lecture A

Conference Facilities

For 2021, the conference uses the same facilities as the 2020 event. These are intended to match the stellar theme, and are largely located in the air over their respective regions. 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.

The conference also includes lecture and workshop spaces and locations for presentations, all of which can be accessed via the teleport HUD.

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.

The VWBPE 2020 teleport HUD

By default, the teleport HUD attaches to the bottom of the viewer window. Click the Show button to reveal / hide it. When displayed, it will show the main buttons to the left:

  • Stations: displays buttons for all of the conference facilities except the main auditorium (shown active in the image above). click one of the buttons to be teleported to the named location.
  • Exhibits: displays a directory of exhibits, each numbered, and a corresponding set of numbered buttons. Again, click a button to go to the desired exhibition.
  • Sponsors: displays a directory of sponsors, each numbered, and a corresponding set of numbered buttons. Click a numbered button to visit the listed sponsor’s exhibit.
  • Special: offers a teleport button to the VWBPE Luminaria centre.
  • Auditorium: displays three buttons corresponding to the three landing points for the VWBPE Auditorium.
VWBPE Spaceport social area

To keep up-to date with the conference, be sure to check the VWBPE website daily.

About VWBPE

VWBPE is a global grass-roots community event focusing on education in immersive virtual environments which attracts over 2,000  educational professionals from around the world each year, who participate in 150-200 online presentations including theoretical research, application of best practices, virtual world tours, hands-on workshops, discussion panels, machinima presentations, and poster exhibits.

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.

Read more here.

VWBPE Auditorium

Additional Links

VWBPE 2021 in Second Life: programme announced

VWBPE 2021

The 14th annual  Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference will take place in Second Life between Thursday, March 18th and Saturday, March 20th 2021, with the supporting programme commencing on Wednesday, March 3rd.

The core schedule of events for the conference has been officially announced, and highlights include (att at the main auditorium, unless otherwise stated):

  • March 18th:
    • 08:00-09:00 SLT: Kick-off event at the VWBPE Gateway.
    • 09:00-09:50 SLT: Keynote address – About the History of Virtual Reality and the Meaning of VR for Education with Dr. Undine Frömming (Angenblick Winkler SL); HMKW Berlin, University of Applied Science for Media, Communication and Management.
    • 15:00-15:50 SLT: What’s up at the Lab? with Patch Linden and hosted by Kevin Feenan (Phelan Corrimal), VWBPE Director; Rockcliffe University Consortium.
  • March 19th:
    • 08:00-08:50 SLT: Keynote address – Heike Philp (Gwen Gwasi).  Details TBA.
  • March 20th:
    • 09:00-09:50 SLT: keynote address – Dr. Bryan Alexander (Bryan Zelmanov SL). Details TBA.

The above are just the tip of the iceberg – through the three days of the event are discussions, presentations, workshops and social events. In the lead-up to the conference that are numerous in-world events and activities. This being the case, please refer to the official schedule for a full breakdown of all events currently planned, and check back on it as further details will be added between now and the start of the conference.

Attendance at the conference is free and open to all. Educators and those working in the educational sector are obviously especially welcome, and those wishing to can also register their intent to attend.

I’ll have a preview of the event ahead of the conference opening.

Call For Volunteers

Volunteers are still being sought to help with the conference. he organisers are looking for people willing to get involved in the following areas:

  • Event hosts.
  • Mentors.
  • Steaming support.
  • Technical support.

Those wishing to give of their time should visit the volunteer page and look at the tabs and then click on the volunteer button.