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

ACES: A new system from ReactionGrid that adds live inworld customization to your Jibe 3d multiuser virtual world

If you’re looking for a powerful system that allows you to easily change in-world surface images/textures, make live modifications and add customized web-links within your Unity-based Jibe multiuser virtual world, then you might be interested in a new product from ReactionGrid.

It’s called ACES, and it’s now on sale in ReactionGrid’s Online Store.

Watch the above video for a complete walkthrough. Here are some screenshots from it.

aces board 1

Everything looks better with Wiener Dogs.

aces board 3

This beautiful 3d store model is made up of many high quality 2d surface images/textures, and I could modify any of them with ACES.

Use the in-world menu system to change surface textures and weblinks.

Use the in-world menu system to change surface textures and weblinks.


I just changed the junk food aisle into one containing healthy fruit using ACES!

What is ACES?

  • ACES is a system that adds user­-modifiable display boards to a Jibe world.  Any image on the web can be projected onto any display board, and boards can be configured to open any URL in a new browser window.
  • The content in an ACES display board can be changed in-situ (within the live published Jibe world) with no work required in the Unity editor.
  • All ACES display boards can be changed in­world by any user who has logged in with an account that has administrative level access.
  • ACES display boards can also be configured so that any user can “claim” an unused board as their own and then have full admin control over it.
  • ACES display boards don’t have to look like boards!  Imagine changing the image textures of storefronts, buildings, any surface at all in your Jibe world.

Live Demo:

Demo Accounts:
ACES Admin / password
Demo User / demodemo

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at pathfinder@reactiongrid.com.

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

Life Connected to Life: How to Revolutionize Environmental Education

[This post also appears on Wiggle Planet’s blog.]

There are many educational games out there that do their best to teach people about the environment.  And many of them do a great job.

For example, I really like how Earth Day Canada put together their EcoKids website.  The games on EcoKids are mostly simple simulations with engaging action and puzzle-based mechanics, and it’s great how they blend the computer-based games with physical-world activities (e.g., play a game on the computer then go outside and do some recycling).  Games that encourage people to make positive changes to their physical world, improving the environment for everyone.

In fact, both the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have sites that promote environmental education through games.  It’s inspiring for me to see large governmental agencies exploring innovative ways to protect the environment and educate the public.

But there’s another level of immersive environmental education we haven’t even touched yet.


First, a key fact about Nature that we often forget.

Nature likes to hide things.  Particularly when something is wrong.  

It’s a fundamental trait that has developed in pretty much every species on the planet.  Are you sick?  Weak?  Injured?  Well, you better hide it as much as possible, otherwise something will come along, notice you’re indisposed, and then eat you for lunch.  This trait also manifests itself in entire networks of interdependent and related organisms (i.e., ecosystems).  By the time it’s easy to observe a systemic problem, the damage is often irreversible.

So, it’s not enough for us to be well educated and observant.  We need superhuman powers to help us visualize what’s really happening in Nature.

I believe artificial life combined with augmented reality is the magic key.  We can help Nature tell us her secrets by creating artificial life forms directly connected to all the data repositories we’ve already created for collecting and tracking environmental data.  Imagine the appearance and behaviors of these artificial life forms changing based on these data, generating powerful human-observable moments.  And finally, imagine these artificial life forms living in an augmented reality space overlaid on the natural world.

For example, take the beautiful concept of the Kodama from the movie Princess Mononoke.

kodama on tree

Kodama are small mystical creatures living in the forest that represent the spirits of all the trees.  Their behavior and appearance in the movie is directly related to the health of all the trees they inhabit.  For example, when the trees get sick, the kodama can be seen falling from the air and dissolving into the ground.

Now, imagine walking up to a tree in the physical world.


Is that tree really healthy?  Not sure, since trees (like most life forms) are pretty good at hiding things (until it’s too late).  Is the forest in which this tree lives getting enough water?  Is the water table polluted?

Sure, you could pull environmental data up on your smartphone and look at graphs and charts and summarized reports.

But those are all cold data, with no sense of life to them.

Rather, imagine watching the data express itself through a family of Kodama that live around the tree.  Imagine looking through your smart phone into an augmented reality space full of artificial life with which you can interact and communicate.

Oh no, all the Kodama are brown and withered!  That means drought!   Oh, they’re all walking over to that other tree.  There must be water over there.  Wait, they’re mutating into something weird.  Some kind of pollution?  The imaginative possibilities, let alone the entertaining and engaging gaming scenarios, are endless.

Effective learning and true understanding comes from emotional resonance.

And nothing resonates more with human beings than life connected to life.

Take care,
-John “Pathfinder” Lester

Wiglet Diversity: A Spectrum of the Wonderfully Strange

This post also appears on Wiggle Planet’s Blog.

strange-011The first thing you’ll notice about Wiglets is that…well, let’s be honest, they look kind of strange.


That’s because Wiglets are not hand-drawn cookie-cutter characters.

They’re artificial life forms that look and behave a certain way because of their genetics.


They’re neither homogenized nor pasteurized.

And unlike video games where you have limited character creator options (Choose from these 5 hairstyles!  How about these 7 different noses?), a Wiglet’s DNA can recombine through breeding to create a highly unpredictable range of physical and behavioral diversity.


Kind of like real life.

Which is exactly the point.


In the near future you’ll be hearing more from us about a Wiglet breeder app that will let you experiment with just how diverse they can be.

We think you’ll fall in love with their quirky appearance and behaviors.

Not because they look like something familiar and common.

But because they don’t.

– John “Pathfinder” Lester

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…

Snapshot_013I looked over my shoulder during the last Hypergrid Safari tour and saw this.

It was a good day.

More pics from that tour here.

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: