Speaking at “Train for Success” Panel on the Future of Virtual Worlds – Nov 8 @ noon Eastern

The Gronstedt Group hosts a weekly “Train for Success” speaking series, and this week I’ll be participating in a panel discussion on the State and Future of Virtual Worlds.

The panel will be held in Second Life and starts on Thursday November 8 at noon Eastern. You can also watch and ask questions via the live stream on the web.

For more details, please see Facebook. Here’s a summary:

“The landscape of virtual worlds is changing. Social and game mechanics make virtual worlds more engaging. Browser-based virtual worlds make them more accessible to a wider audience. The panel will discuss the state and future of virtual worlds. Join this conversation about the emerging platforms and applications of virtual worlds in learning and business.”

Hope to see you there, and special thanks to Anders Gronstedt for inviting me to participate.

-John “Pathfinder” Lester

A peaceful retreat: New waterfall area in my Jibe world

I spent some time today putting together a new waterfall area in my Jibe world.

It’s full of ambient sounds and dynamic shadows.  A very peaceful place.

You can visit it by going to my Jibe world and clicking on the “Waterfall” button in the upper left corner of the screen.

It may take a few seconds for the button to appear once you arrive in the default landing area.  That’s because the Waterfall area is pretty large and needs to download a bit before you can jump into it.  Just be patient. 😉

For more pics, see this nice set of photos taken by Key Gruin.  Thanks for visiting, Key!

Take care,
-John Lester

Online Presentation at Agile Worlds 2012

I’ll be giving a presentation today (Wednesday October 3rd) at 8pm Eastern as part of the Agile Worlds 2012 Online Conference.

My topic will be “Integrated Reality and Next Generation Virtual Worlds.” Here’s detailed info on my session.

Please feel free to visit my Agile Worlds Jibe space at 8pm if you’d like to attend.  Hope to see you there!

UPDATE 10/4/12:  Here’s a video recording of the event.

And here are my online slides.

UPDATE 10/4/12:  Just read a review of a new game that’s a perfect example of balancing Familiar with Fascinating (a key theme in my presentation).

-John “Pathfinder” Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid, Inc

Building Immersion through Simple Design: Visit a Meteor Shower in Jibe

Anyone can create an exciting immersive experience in a 3d virtual world platform like Jibe.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.

And it doesn’t require loads of money and development time.

The trick is to follow a few simple design rules.

Continue reading

ReactionGrid’s new website is up!

After much work by the entire team, ReactionGrid’s new website is now live.

We’ve been banging away at it for many weeks now, and I’m very proud of the results.

A lot of effort was spent on both the graphic design and the information design.  It was a complete overhaul from the previous site.

Our primary goal with the new site was to have something that looked beautiful, that clearly explained what ReactionGrid does, and that gave people an immediate sense of what our Jibe platform is all about.  I think we accomplished our mission.

And it looks groovy on mobile devices, too. 😉

If you have any feedback or constructive criticism about the website’s content or design, please leave it in the comments.  Thanks!

Take care,
– John Lester
Chief Learning Officer, ReactionGrid Inc.

Video of panel on “Virtual Worlds Revisited” at the 2012 Chicago eLearning and Technology Showcase

I  just participated in a wonderful “Virtual Worlds Revisited” panel discussion as part of the Chicago eLearning and Technology Showcase.  The panel was organized and moderated by Mike Kemmler, and participants included virtual world innovators Anders Gronstedt , Mark Jankowski and Karl Kapp.

The panel was held in Second Life, but the focus of our discussion was firmly on the future of new virtual world platforms and new modalities for immersive learning.  We were projected into the physical world meeting room in Chicago where about 30 people attended in person.  Here’s a summary:

Still deeply entrenched in Gartner’s Trough of Disillusionment, is it time to revisit virtual worlds?  Mike Kemmler hosts a virtual panel discussion via Second Life with a distinguished group of virtual world innovators, presenters, consultants, and authors, including Anders Gronstedt, Mark Jankowski, Karl Kapp, and John “Pathfinder” Lester. Panelists address the current state of learning in virtual worlds, explain platforms they see organizations using for immersive learning, and discuss current challenges and future possibilities of using virtual worlds for learning.

Thanks again, Mike, for this great opportunity.  It was an honor to be on a panel with such a stellar group of pioneers in virtual worlds and immersive learning.


NOTE: The audio from Second Life is bit choppy for the first 30 seconds, but then clears up perfectly for the rest of the video.

-John “Pathfinder” Lester

Speaking at the Academic Librarians 2012 Conference – Syracuse University, June 12-13

I’ve been invited to attend and speak at the Academic Librarians 2012 Conference at Syracuse University from June 12-13.  This conference will be a great opportunity to connect with folks interested in building the future of immersive learning and information literacy.

Continue reading

My Presentation at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology

The Department of Computer and Information Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway is hosting a seminar this week on “Virtual Worlds & Educational Technologies.”

The seminar will be held on Wednesday April 25th from 11:00-14:00 CEST, and it’s free and open to both staff and students.  Here’s a summary of speakers and topics: Continue reading

Using Virtual Worlds to Reduce Stress

relaxation training in a virtual world

A fascinating paper was just published on the topic of using virtual worlds to train people in stress reduction techniques.

Read the full paper here: “The Feasibility and Impact of Delivering a Mind-Body Intervention in a Virtual World

The paper describes a pilot project using a virtual space to bring volunteers through a mind-body medical intervention. The volunteers learned how to elicit the relaxation response, a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress.  Typically, people learn how to do this in physical-world training sessions.  But in this case, they were able to use a 3d simulation in a group learning environment.

Some of the challenges they faced in the course of the project included:

“…although it is indeed feasible to present this type of program in a virtual world, the user interface is problematic. Recruitment was limited to individuals with prior experience in Second Life since the interface was known to be a barrier to entry. Even with such inclusion criteria, some of the less experienced users had problems that likely affected their participation.”

and

“…in the absence of remote sensing technology, it is very difficult to know if the participants are taking part in the exercises or successfully eliciting the relaxation response.”

Our next-generation multiuser virtual world platform Jibe addresses all of these challenges.  When you set up your own Jibe world, you have complete control over the user interface and can customize/simplify it however you wish.  A Jibe world can also be embedded in any web page, which makes it as easy as possible for people to access.  And finally, we’ve build our Jibe platform from the ground up so that it can directly interface with remote sensing technology.

Due to the positive results from this pilot study,  Dr. Daniel B. Hoch and his team are planning to conduct further research.  It will be very exciting to see techniques like this evolve to improve the quality of life of people around the world.  And here at ReactionGrid, we’ll keep building the technological platforms that can help make it all happen.

UPDATE 4/6/2012: Here’s a press release about the research project from Massachusetts General Hospital with additional quotes by Dr. Hoch.

-John “Pathfinder” Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid Inc.

An Educator’s Field Trip to a Jibe Virtual World

Marianne Riis works at the Multi-User Virtual Environments Research (MUVER) Lab at Aalborg University Copenhagen in Denmark.

She’s teaching a class focused on interpersonal Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) this spring, and recent topics have included avatar-based communication.

Marianne decided to bring her 89 student class on a field trip into my demo Jibe world.  Here’s her detailed report.

I think it’s fantastic when educators share experiences like this.  It helps educators and students learn from each other, and it also helps virtual world platform providers learn how to make their technology as useful to educators as possible.

Thank you, Marianne!

Marianne Riis and her students visit my Jibe world

-John “Pathfinder” Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid Inc.