I’m an editor for the International Journal on Innovations in Online Education. Want to contribute?

screenshot while exploring OpensimI’m working with John Bourne on a new academic journal.

It’s called the International Journal on Innovations in Online Education (IJIOE) and will be published by Begell House.  The Aim and Scope of the Journal is provided below.

The journal will be organized into subtopic areas called “Streams,” with each Stream consisting of a collection of articles published quarterly. The content of each stream will range from short news items to longer in-depth articles and reviews. All published articles will allow for active commentary by readers and all the other stream editors.

Here’s a list of all current Streams:

  • Nursing Innovations
  • Online Laboratories
  • GIS Online Innovations
  • Analytics
  • ePortfolios and Prior Learning
  • Immersive Online Education (my stream)
  • StoryTelling for Online Education
  • Startups in Online Education
  • Industry On-line Education
  • Competency-based Education

I’m on the Advisory Board for the journal, and I’m also the Stream Editor for Immersive Online Education.

My Stream will focus on innovative online learning environments that immerse students perceptually (3d simulations, VR, AR, etc.) as well as provide opportunities for collaborative learning (leveraging multiuser virtual worlds, social media tools, etc.).

I’m currently looking for interested authors who would like to contribute. Your article can be about your own work, a review of interesting developments in the field, or anything innovative you’d like to discuss. Suggestions about others who might want to write articles for the journal would be welcomed.

Please email me directly at john.e.lester@gmail.com if you’re interested or have any questions.

Take care,
-John “Pathfinder” Lester

Aim and Scope of the Journal

The aim of IJIOE is to provide the field of online higher education with quality knowledge about what is going on in important areas of the field, with a specific emphasis on what is new and likely to affect the field. IJIOE has a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) online education, including related fields such as healthcare. IJIOE is the purveyor of “WISDOM” about the field, providing short articles, discussions with author experts and reviews of methods for moving the field forward in selected areas.

The scope of IJIOE includes all of online higher education, but has a loose focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and healthcare. Articles are managed by “stream editors,” experts in specific streams of interests within this scope, including disciplines within the above content areas. From time to time, streams will be started that are thought to influence the major streams.

My Interview on The Drax Files Radio Hour – Second Life and Community Development in Virtual Worlds


I was recently interviewed by Draxtor on his highly informative and entertaining radio show “The Drax Files Radio Hour.”

Check out the full show and hear me chat about Second Life, Jibe, Unity, WigglePlanet, and the role of community development in multiuser virtual world platforms.

Take care,
-John “Pathfinder” Lester

My old lighthouse in Second Life

old lighthouse home in SLI was meeting some educator friends in Second Life today when I looked across the virtual landscape and saw this nice view of my old lighthouse in the historic neighborhood of Nova Albion.

Amazing to think I’ve owned the parcel for over 10 years (since 2004).  So much has changed in both my life and technology over that time, yet this specific virtual place remains constant and very special to me.

Take care,
-John “Pathfinder” Lester

The Art of Enhanced Reality: Video and Slides from my Science Circle presentation

Pathfinder_001-1024x542The Science Circle is an alliance of scientists, educators and entrepreneurs from various fields who gather twice a month in Second Life for presentations on a wide range of interdisciplinary topics.  They’re a very creative and engaging group, and I was honored to be recently invited to give a talk.  Here’s a summary of my topic:

“The Art of Enhanced 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. 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 the “Art of Enhanced Reality” through tools for knowledge management, self-animated artificial life living in augmented reality, and the unique affordances of perceptually immersive multiuser 3d virtual worlds for collaborative learning.

Below is a full video of my presentation, and you can find all my slides online.

Thanks again for the opportunity!

Take care,
-John “Pathfinder” Lester

Tips on Exporting/Importing Virtual World Content and Speaking at OpenSimulator Community Conference 2014

15433151408_16e4142328_hThe OpenSimulator Community Conference (OSCC) is an annual conference that focuses on the developer and user community creating the OpenSimulator software. Organized as a joint production by AvaCon and the Overte Foundation, the virtual conference features two days of presentations, workshops, keynote sessions, and social events across diverse sectors of the OpenSimulator user base.

Last year’s conference was a fantastic experience, and I’m thrilled to be both attending and presenting again this year.  All the inworld venue tickets are sold out, but if you can still register for a free streaming ticket and watch all the presentations live on Ustream.


Here’s what I’ll be presenting this year:

“You Only Own what you can Carry: How to backup and move your content between Second Life, Openim and Unity”
Saturday Nov 8 from 9:00am – 9:45am PST

In this hands-on workshop, I’ll be demonstrating exactly how to export your own user-created objects (both prim and mesh based) and move them between Second Life, Opensim and Unity. Attendees will watch my desktop via a live TeamViewer screenshare and follow along on their own using freely-available software.

Requirements: Inworld attendees should be using the OSCC recommended 32-bit Singularity viewer and have pre-installed both the free version of the Unity Editor and the free TeamViewer application. No previous technical expertise required, just a willingness to learn.

The crux of my workshop will be a live demonstration of me creating something in both Opensim and Second Life and then walking through exactly how to get it into a scene in Unity.  I’ll also be demoing how to move content between Second Life and Opensim.  If you’re worried all this might be overly complicated, I promise it will be a lot easier than you expect.  Plus you’ll have the fun and “excitement” of watching me do all this live on my own desktop (what could possibly go wrong?).  The key takeaway will be that the whole process is easy enough for anyone to learn how to do, regardless of your level of technical expertise.

If you can’t watch it live, no worries.  My session will be recorded so you’ll be able to watch it later.  I’ll update this blog post with a link to the recording once it’s online.

[UPDATE – Nov 9 2014 – Here’s the full video of my presentation]

I’ll also be a panelist later in the day on “The New Era of Content Protection in OpenSim” where I’ll be sharing my thoughts about DRM versus content licensing.


Hope to see you there!

Take care,
-John “Pathfinder” Lester

My Keynote at e-LEOT 2014 – “Augmented Mind: The Evolution of Learning Tools from Language to Immersive Reality”

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.

Visit Wiggle Planet to learn a lot more about Wiglets.

Visit Wiggle Planet to learn a lot more about 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.

Want to easily change this web-based 3d environment on the fly without having to muck around in Unity?  
Now you can. I’ve got some new tricks with Jibe to show you.

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:

Hypergrid Safari – The evolution of exploration across the interconnected Metaverse

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 helped each other out through crazy technical challenges and exciting adventures, but it was the community of wonderful people at these meetings that impressed and amazed me the most.

Time moved on and in 2012 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 OpenSim World).  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 one blooms.  That’s the true beauty of online communities.  Healthy ones change and grow.

10360407_10204277639409803_8127721628386910115_nThe Hypergrid Safari is a new group that runs weekly tours across Opensim.  In their own words:

“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 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.

Join one of the Hypergrid Safari tours happening every Wednesday at noon Pacific Time departing from the Hypergrid Safari HQ on OSGrid.

Here’s more info:


Outside the Hypergrid Safari HQ and Clubhouse on the region Teravus in OSGrid.

Outside the Hypergrid Safari HQ

Inside the Hypergrid Safari Clubhouse. I love the elephant trophy mounted on an old hypergate.

Inside the Hypergrid Safari Clubhouse. I love the elephant trophy mounted on an old hypergate.

And here’s a great video by Nina Camplin of some recent tours.

Take care, and hope to see you inworld!
-John “Pathfinder” Lester

Brief Thoughts on Ebbe’s Keynote at VWBPE 2014 in Second Life

It was good to hear Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab’s new CEO, speak at the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education 2014 Conference in Second Life today.

Ebbe addressed a number of pain points with the educator community in Second Life and brought some healthy visibility into how he sees things moving forward on a number of technical levels.  I really appreciated the time and effort he spent in addressing educators.

But I have some constructive criticism.

Cultivating any community requires a lot more than just understanding its technical requirements for a particular piece of software or to be “listening to needs.”  Communities are organic and constantly evolving entities with complex interdependencies that are often far from intuitive.  And when you give communities new technological tools, they typically use these tools in very unpredictable ways.

In other words, it’s not just about collecting technical requirements and reading submitted feedback when you have the time.  It’s about taking the time to actively investigate and participate in a community so you can cultivate its success and identify completely new market opportunities in the future.

There’s a reason people dedicated to sociology and cultural anthropology and community development exist.  This stuff is important and hard and requires focus.

It’s the same reason why companies that focus solely on engineering goals while ignoring complex sociological factors tend to find themselves perpetually running after a community rather than leading it into the brightest possible future.

-John “Pathfinder” Lester

Giving a Virtual Worlds Lecture – April 7 @ 6pm PDT in Second Life

blog post sjsu headerOn Monday April 7 at 6pm PDT I’ll be giving a Virtual Worlds Lecture in Second Life.

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.

Content import and export in Singularity Viewer

Hope to see you there!

-John “Pathfinder” Lester

Hypergrid Adventurers Club – Visiting the Center for Global Health’s East Africa Traveler Safety Simulation

hgac  9 28 2013 04

Wandering warthogs in the East Africa Traveler Safety Simulation

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.

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