The 1st International Conference on e-Learning, e-Education and Online Training is being held September 18-20 in Bethesda, Maryland. This conference will assess a wide range of progressive ideas for the future of e-Learning, focusing on the idea of technology as a means to education rather than an end in itself. The conference organizers have lined up a wonderful range of interdisciplinary speakers and are planning to attract a wide group of heterogeneous scholars and practitioners.
I’ll be attending the entire conference, and I’m honored to be giving the opening keynote presentation. Here’s what I’ll be talking about:
“Augmented Mind: The Evolution of Learning Tools
from Language to Immersive Reality”
Innovative educators are constantly facing the challenge of matching pedagogical goals with complementary technological tools. Unfortunately, given the wide range of technologies and devices that vie for consumer attention, the right choices are not always clear and are typically obscured by media hype. In this presentation, John Lester will describe how focusing on the way the human mind interacts with the world and other human beings can help identify the right tools for the right jobs. From a mind-augmentation perspective combining constructivist and behaviorist approaches, John will explore web based tools ideal for knowledge management, augmented reality based self-animated autonomous agents, and finally the unique (and sometimes over-hyped) affordances of perceptually immersive multiuser 3d virtual worlds for collaborative learning.
My goal will be to tell an interesting story with examples and demos of technologies that I think really leverage how our minds naturally embrace the world around us. One such technology that I’m currently exploring and that you’ve probably never heard of are Wiglets.
Wiglets are autonomous, evolving, self-animated and self-motivated agents that can exist in both completely virtual and augmented reality environments. They exist at a wildly creative intersection of artificial life, art and gaming. And perhaps best of all, you can interact with them directly through touch and gestures.
Another topic of discussion will be the affordances of multiuser 3d virtual worlds, especially how one can reduce the barrier to entry for people interested in leveraging them for educational purposes. ReactionGrid has recently developed some new tools that integrate with the Unity3d-based Jibe platform to provide on-the-fly content editing in a simple yet powerful way. I’ll be giving a sneak preview during my presentation.
I’ll also be discussing and giving examples of innovative uses of commonly used virtual world technologies such as Second Life, Opensimulator and the Oculus Rift. If you plan on attending and would like to connect with me at the conference, please drop me a line on Twitter or email. And if you’re looking to interact with the organizers and other attendees and speakers, be sure to check out the e-LEOT LinkedIn Conference Group.
After my keynote I’ll be updating this blog post to include my slides and links to any recordings.
UPDATE Sept 19, 2014
Here are my slides:
-John “Pathfinder” Lester
Between 2010 and 2012 I had a lot of fun organizing and running the Hypergrid Adventurers Club (HGAC) meetings. Those were the very early days of Hypergrid connectivity in Opensim, and things often went awry during our explorations. We all stuck together and helped each other out through crazy technical challenges and exciting adventures, but it was the community of helpful people at these meetings that impressed and amazed me the most.
Time moved on, and over the past couple years I stopped organizing Hypergrid Adventurers Club meetings. Not because of any lack of interest in Opensim and the Hypergrid on my part, mind you. I’m still very excited about the future of Opensim and the Hypergrid, and I continue to explore and experiment a lot on my own. It was just that I felt the HGAC had run its course. Opensim was becoming much more stable and easier to use, hypergrid jumps were becoming very reliable, and directories of great places to explore were expanding (see Hyperica and iDreamsNet). Also, attendance was gradually declining, and other aspects of my life were getting busier, so I figured it was time to wind things down.
But when one flower closes, a new and different one usually blooms. That’s the beauty of online communities. They adapt and change and grow.
“Want to discover open sim and learn to hypergrid? Join our friendly weekly trips to destinations all over the hyperverse, and get help with shopping for your avatar, free land opportunities, and sympathy when you run up against snags and bugs.”
I’ve been attending these trips and they’re simply fantastic. The organizers are Thirza Ember, Fuschia Nightfire, Wizard Gynoid and Wizardoz Chrome. I think all of them bring beautiful new perspectives to exploring the Hypergrid, in particular the perspectives of skilled content creators and innovative artists who have a long history of pioneering work in Second Life and other virtual worlds. And everyone attending brings their own thoughtfulness and great sense of humor to the group. Once again, it’s the community of people that impresses and amazes me the most in online worlds.
So please check out the Hypergrid Safari and go on one of their tours. You can get connected with them and learn more in a few different ways:
- Hypergrid Safari Group in Second Life
- Hypergrid Safari Google Group
- Hypergrid Safari Facebook Group
- A great overview of the origins of the Hypergrid Safari
- Hypergrid Safari HQ (currently on Metropolis Grid – sign up for an account here)
Hypergrid Address: hypergrid.org:8002:Outlands
And here’s a great video by Nina Camplin of some recent tours.
Take care, and hope to see you inworld!
-John “Pathfinder” Lester
The title of my talk is “Finding the Balance between Pedagogy and Technology.” Here’s a summary:
One must always seek a thoughtful match between pedagogy and technology. Different virtual world platforms are suited for different uses, ranging from collaborative work environments to immersive goal-oriented simulations. The speaker will discuss current virtual world technological trends involving specific gaming technologies like Unity3D and the growth of Open Source platforms such as OpenSimulator. A discussion will focus on helping educators choose the right tool for the right job, matching pedagogical goals with technological affordances.
My presentation is part of an ongoing series of talks hosted by the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University. Here’s more information about the colloquia, and here’s a SLURL for where I’ll be speaking.
Part of what I’ll be doing in addition to showing slides and speaking will be a live demo of some of the content import/export tools in the Singularity Viewer. You’ll get so see how you can easily backup content you’ve created in Second Life or Opensim to your hard drive and how to get that content into other 3D platforms like Unity3d and Blender.
Hope to see you there!
I’ll be attending these two upcoming conferences. If you’re planning to attend either of them or if you just happen to be in town when they occur, please contact me via my about.me page if you’d like to meet up and chat about learning in virtual worlds!
4th Global Conference – Experiential Learning in Virtual Worlds
March 22-24, 2014
Prague, Czech Republic
The main aims of this conference are to increase our understanding of experiential learning in virtual worlds, both formal and informal, to share experiences and best practices, and to debate future possibilities for learning in virtual worlds. For full details, please see the conference website.
My panel presentation will be “Finding the Balance between Pedagogy and Technology.” Here’s my abstract:
Next Generation virtual worlds will be tightly coupled to many other emerging technologies, leveraging modern knowledge management processes and providing platforms for broad use among teachers and learners. As the technological landscape grows, it is becoming increasingly difficult for educators to identify the right platform (or mix of platforms) for their specific immersive learning needs.
In my current position at ReactionGrid and my previous work at Linden Lab and Harvard Medical School, I have explored the use of a wide range of gaming and virtual world platforms to augment education. Today there are a number of very interesting virtual world technological trends involving specific gaming technologies like Unity as well as the growth of Open Source platforms such as OpenSimulator. My ongoing work involves finding the right match between educational goals and technological affordances as well as identifying key synergies when virtual world technologies are interwoven with existing social media and web-based educational content.
Above all else, there must be a thoughtful match between pedagogy and technology. Different virtual world platforms are suited for different uses, ranging from collaborative work environments to immersive goal-oriented simulations. One of the most important and challenging goals for any educator exploring virtual worlds is simply finding the right tool for the right job. Likewise, it is critical for virtual world platform developers to keep a firm focus on well established knowledge management principles when designing new technologies intended to advance the field of immersive learning.
I’m particularly thrilled about this panel because I’ll be participating with Dr. Bryan Carter from the University of Arizona. Bryan is a true pioneer in using virtual worlds for experiential learning, and he’s been working with virtual environments since his dissertation project in 1997 when he created a virtual simulation of Harlem, NY as it existed during the 1920s Jazz Age and Harlem Renaissance. Virtual Harlem was one of the earliest full virtual reality environments created for use in the humanities and certainly one of the first for use in an African American literature course. The project continues to grow and evolve as Bryan explores new virtual world platforms.
1st International Conference on e-Learning e-Education and Online Training (e-LEOT)
September 18–20, 2014
Bethesda, Maryland, United States
This new conference will assess a wide range of progressive ideas for the future of e-Learning, focusing on the idea of technology as a means to education rather than an end in itself. The conference organizers are lining up a wonderful range of interdisciplinary speakers and are planning to attract a wide group of heterogeneous scholars and practitioners. For full details, please see the conference website.
Be seeing you!
Two of my biggest challenges when exploring Hypergrid-connected regions across the multitude of Opensim-based grids have always been: 1) finding places where people are currently visiting and 2) not wasting time trying to connect to places that are offline.
And over the years, there have been commendable efforts to manually create lists of Hypergrid-connected places (e.g., Hyperica) as well as strong work to create networked inworld devices (e.g., TheHypergates). All this work has been wonderful and very helpful to the growth of the Hypergrid.
However, I’ve always felt an ideal tool to really tie together the Hypergrid would be an automatically updated (i.e., # of current visitors and online status) and simple searchable web-based directory that was very easy to join.
There aren’t many regions listed right now since the system is brand new and opt-in, but it’s incredibly easy to join and therefore could grow very quickly. To get your own Hypergrid-connected region included in the list, you just rez an object on your region which phones home to the iDreamsNet website and immediately creates an entry for your region on the Hypergrid List. You are given a special link where you can go edit your listing (add photo, descriptive text, tags, website) and, over time, this object communicates back to the iDreamsNet website to let it know if your region is currently online and how many people are currently on it. More details can be found on the iDreamsNet website.
With the recent elimination of the 4096 region distance bug, there’s no need anymore to complicate Hypergrid directories with grid coordinates or “upper, middle, lower” categories. Now, anyone can jump from any Hypergrid location to any other Hypergrid location. We just need a simple, automated and powerful directory.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how this new service evolves, and I love the clean Google-esque design of it. Simple, automated and powerful. Great work so far, Mike!
-John “Pathfinder” Lester
Yesterday, the Hypergrid Adventurers Club (HGAC) visited the Center for Global Health’s East Africa Traveler Safety Simulation. About 20 of us made the voyage, initially gathering at JokaydiaGrid and then travelling together as a group. This was the first HGAC trip in a long time, and it was wonderful to see so many familiar friends as well as some brand new faces.
In particular, take a look at this section in the update notes. The fact that it is a very brief sentence seriously belies the magnitude of its significance.
Latif Khalifa has fixed the bug that, since the beginning of time, prevented Hypergrid explorers from jumping to places more than 4096 regions away. No more mandatory intermediate hops! No more “cannot reach destination – too far away” messages!
I encourage all explorers of the Hypergrid to please take a moment and thank Latif on Twitter. His hard work has resulted in a major improvement to the use of the Hypergrid and the evolution of OpenSim as a constellation of easily accessible interconnected grids.
Which brings me to the topic of the Hypergrid Adventurers Club. Since my presentation at the OpenSimulator Community Conference, I’ve received a great deal of interest in possibly restarting our tours of the Hypergrid. Many people reached out to me, and the outpouring of interest was very inspiring.
So I’m rebooting the tours! Our next tour will be Saturday Sept 28 at 10pm EDT. For all the details, please join and read our Google Group.
-John “Pathfinder” Lester
This is recreation of a blog post by Brian A. White. Brian’s blog went offline sometime in 2009, and recently it was suggested that someone republish this useful tutorial to make sure it can be found by search engines and does not someday completely vanish from the Internet. So here it is.
Some of the links in this article are dead and not available in any existing archives. I’ve left those in but
crossed them out.Fortunately these dead links are not critical to the tutorial, and I was able to update the other links that have changed since this article was written. Brian, wherever you are, thank you again for writing this and I hope you are well.
This past weekend I attended and spoke at the very first OpenSimulator Community Conference (OSCC13). It was an amazing event full of outstanding presentations, great networking opportunities, and spectacular venues with tons of attendees. It was also truly remarkable to see how far OpenSim has evolved and matured as a virtual world platform.
I’ve seen my fair share of online conferences, and this was the most professionally managed and engaging online conference I have ever attended. To everyone involved in making this event a reality, thank you!
And thank you all who attended my presentation. I apologize for not having time to answer all your questions, but if you leave a comment on this blog post I will be very happy to reply.
Lastly, for those of you interested in me possibly restarting the Hypergrid Adventurers Club tours (I got a lot of positive feedback at the conference), be sure to join the HGAC mailing list and post that you’d like to attend a future tour. If I see enough interest, I’ll definitely start them up again.
Please read on for my own presentation summary, video and downloadable slides. You can also watch recordings of all the other presentations in the Conference Archives.
“Exploring the Interconnected: How Past Dreams evolve into Future Reality”
Join us to hear more about how dreams from the past can dramatically change and evolve into something completely new. In this presentation you will hear all about John’s initial experiences in Opensim while still working at Linden Lab, the creation and mangement of “Pathlandia,” initial explorations of the Hypergrid, and how it all fits in with what he remembers as Linden Lab’s original vision of an expanding Metaverse of self-hosted and interconnected virtual worlds.
ADDENDUM 9/10/2013: Be sure to read this blog post: “The Future of Conferences.” It’s an outstanding summary of the conference by Crista Lopes, the inventor of the Hypergrid and one of the conference’s main organizers.
-John “Pathfinder” Lester
This is pretty cool.
The most recent version of the Singularity viewer (version 1.8.1) adds a particularly interesting feature:
- Wavefront (.obj) and Collada (.dae) Export by Apelsin, Inusaito, and Latif Khalifa – Allows export of your creations into Blender, Unity3D and other modeling applications and game engines