Educators in VR: Good-bye 2019, Hello 2020

Now that we are starting off a new year and a new decade, we want to take a moment to look back on all that we’ve accomplished in our first year and be amazed. When Daniel told me he wanted our tagline to be “The sky is no longer the limit,” I thought it was cute. I didn’t realize it would become our motto.

Seriously, in spite of many personal disruptions, Daniel Dyboski-Bryant and myself have worked long hours in addition to full-time jobs to develop Educators in VR on a shoestring budget. Its success as a membership community and social profit company based in the UK is amazing because of you.

Educators in VR Meetup 2018 in Altspace - emojis to celebrate the first event.What started out as a conversation between four educators to host a social meetup to explore educators using VR for research and integration into the classroom exploded into weekly educational and training workshops and presentations in AltspaceVR, ENGAGE, and other social and educational platforms, and, coming in February, a ground-breaking six-day virtual conference called “2020 Educators in VR International Summit.”

In the past 13 months, Educators in VR has accomplished the following:

  • Hosted 48 workshops and meetups in AltspaceVR.
  • Hosted multiple events in ENGAGE, rumii, and Mozilla Hubs (with more on the way).
  • Averaged 40 attendees at each event (the cap in AltspaceVR for the past 6 months was 40 so that means standing room only. Before then, we averaged 80.).
  • Reached an audience estimated to be about 4,000 just in AltspaceVR across over 80 workshop hours.
  • Educators in VR Immersive Classroom Event in the Last Glacier with Lorelle VanFossen.Hosted 550 members on our Discord server, and our Facebook group is about the same with some overlap between the two. Discord is our most active social platform with over 7,700 comments in less than a year, and we’ve over 1,000 followers on Twitter.
  • Attracted 3,000 pageviews on our website in a few months time with little or no marketing.
  • Developed seven different educational workshops, along with a dozen variations for specific audiences.
  • Presented live virtual and in-person workshops at AWE, VRX2019 Conference in Amsterdam, and the VR/AR Global Summit for the VR/AR Association.
  • Co-hosted over 6 hours of the 24-hour International VR Day in November.
  • Presented 5 special events, speakers, and panels on cyberbullying in virtual reality as part of honoring Cyberbullying Month in AltspaceVR.
  • Featured in “Getting Social with VR Education” with VR Focus, AltspaceVR Community Spotlight: Educators in VR, Educators in VR Meetup by The Virtual Reality Podcast, and other media.
  • Educators in VR Event Space and World in AltspaceVR.Lorelle built a custom event world for Educators in VR, and Mark S. of the UK took the prototype and turned into into a marvelous event and social space for our weekly workshops and social gatherings.
  • Continue to develop scholarship and donation programs to help fund educational programs for integration of VR into the classroom and provide equipment for students and educators in need.

The Educators in VR Project Teams

Educators in VR vLanguage LearningOf all the things we are proud of accomplishing this year, we are the most proud of our Project Team leaders and members. These are truly passionate and inspired people who’ve taken on leading these special project teams to host events, workshops, and dive even deeper into the research and curriculum for their specialties. I’d like you to meet them.

  • vLanguage Learning: Using virtual and augmented reality, the team is researching, exploring, and developing classes and workshops to work with ESL, immigrants, and refugees to improve their language and self-confidence skills. The team is lead by Michael McDonald of GoldLotus Ltd.
  • vCoaching and Personal Development: The vCoaching team is new but already diving deeply into research and development of apps and programs on the psychological impact of virtual reality on personal and professional skill building, phobias, therapy, and training. The team is lead by Dana-Maria aka CaptainVR.
  • Research: The collaborative community of Educators in VR researchers are exploring a wide variety of research projects in VR/AR/XR/MR related to education work, and is lead by Evelien Ydo, Masters student of Educational Science and Technology at the University of Twente, Netherlands.
  • Computer Science and Math: Educators and trainers pushing virtual technologies across multiple platforms and building apps in programming and maths. The research, development, and ground-breaking practicum work is led by Nicolas Barrone of Universe.
  • Science and Medical: Team members are exploring the potential for access, training, and education of VR and AR in health tech and science, and reviewing current apps, platforms, and technology. Rob Theriault, professor of paramedics training at Georgian College in Ontario, Canada, is championing this team.
  • Educators in VR - Cyberbullying Month WorkshopsDiversity and Access: This diverse team helped to develop the month long series of workshops on cyberbullying in VR for October’s National Bullying Month in the United States, and continues to focus on innovative educational and social apps on empathy, diversity, autism, and equal access with marginal learners with education, leadership, and employment opportunities. Tim Jackson, Programme Director of Computing at Broadstairs College (EKC Group), Anna Xygkou, PhD Student at University of Kent Immersive Technologies and Autism, and John Williams, virtual communities consultant and media producer, are heading up the team.
  • Curriculum Development: A team of dedicated VR professionals and enthusiasts are developing diverse curriculum for various educational levels and subject matter on VR/AR/XR/MR. Led by myself, Lorelle VanFossen, and Daniel Dyboski-Bryant.
  • Networked Classroom Project: A collaborative project in development of a global network of VR-Enabled schools to bridge physical distances to learn together, led by Daniel Dyboski-Bryant.

We’ve built strong bonds with a variety of social, training, and educational platforms, many of whom will be actively involved in our upcoming 2020 Educators in VR International Summit, February 17-22, 2020.

We are not alone in the industry where the reality of education touches the virtual. We are working with the Virtual World Society, VR/AR Association, and others to lead the way in this evolving technology of immersive learning. Expect announcements of collaborations and projects soon.

2020 Educators in VR International Summit

2020 Educators in VR International Summit posterThe 2020 Educators in VR International Summit is February 17-22, 2020. It is a ground-breaking conference featuring over 80 hours of educational workshops, panels, presentations, and social events across multiple virtual platforms including AltspaceVR, ENGAGE, rumii, Somnium Space, and others.

Our speakers come from around the world, “flying” in virtually to share their expertise, research, and passion for VR, XR, AR, and MR and education.

In addition to a general track, you will be able to choose from any of these amazing team project tracks:

  • The Basics of VR/AR/XR/MR
  • Research into Spatial Technologies in Education
  • Corporate Uses for Training and Education
  • Language Arts Training, Education, and as a Classroom
  • Coaching and Personal Development
  • Medical and Science
  • Computer Science and Math
  • Student Maker/Creator Projects, Collaborations, and Apps
  • Virtual Applications and Hardware for the Classroom

We’re also bringing you some of the best leaders in the virtual and augmented industries including entrepreneurs, developers, and thought leaders. We are working on a showcase of educational apps and platforms for educators, a smorgasbord of examples and resources.

Due to demand, we’ve extended our application deadline for the call for speakers to January 5, 2020. You may submit a Speaker Proposal for the 2020 Educators in VR International Summit and join our honored speaking team.

This event will not happen without the amazing help of our volunteers in our community. If you would like to volunteer and help, please sign up with our 2020 Educators in VR International Summit Volunteer Form. We need moderators, event hosts, live streamers and filmers, and a vibrant support team.

What’s Next?

We, along with our amazing team of Project Leaders, have great plans for the coming years, only limited by our imagination, and a little time, money, and energy. Which is where you come in.

We’ve done all this with our own blood, sweat, tears, and laughter along the way. Educators in VR is self-funded by myself and Daniel, and we need your help to keep going.

Educators in VR produced over 80 hours of free and open-to-the-public workshops, trainings, and special events over the past year. We’ve averaged 20 hours a week each developing curriculum, training new users, and expanding the potential of Educators in VR, in addition to our full time careers.

Tom Furness and Daniel Dyboski-Bryant at AWE 2019.
Daniel Dyboski-Bryant and Tom Furness at AWE 2019

Daniel was recently awarded the 2019 Adult Community Learner Tutor of the Year INSPIRE Award in the UK for his work on with Refugees, VR and Language Learning. He’s been invited to speak at conferences including the VRX Amsterdam 2019, AWE 2019 San Jose, VCARA keynote, and Cardiff, Bangor, and Grwp Llandrillo Menai universities on his work on education with and in VR, and Lorelle joined him virtually at several of those conferences.

Lorelle teaches and trains in the real world as well as in AltspaceVR, leading virtual workshops and classes in virtual reality about 10 hours a week, totaling over 500 hours in VR just this year. Decades of work and research into web publishing, social media, and web development, and many years as an educator, keynote speaker, and workshop leader and expert in digital storytelling and publishing, melts right into the power of immersive learning.

Personally and representing Educators in VR, both of us are also consultants working with educational and commercial institutions around the world.

Logo - Give to Educators in VR with Patreon.

To help us continue this work, we’ve started an Educators in VR Patreon account, your first step to help us keep Educators in VR going.

We will be launching memberships in the next few months, but know that the bulk of what we do will be free and open to the public. With your sustaining help, we will be able to make our dreams come true to fund scholarships and educational outreach to help fund educational programs for integration of VR into the classroom and provide equipment for students and educators in need. We’ve already started in the UK and are expanding into Europe and around the world.

Educators in VR on the Road in Engage and heading to the moon.Educators in VR continues to host free weekly workshops in AltspaceVR. Subscribe to our Educators in VR Altspace channel to receive email reminders of upcoming events.

Now that more virtual social, educational, and training platforms are coming out of beta and are open to the public, our popular Educators in VR on the Road show will invite you to explore these amazing spaces and their features, helping you learn about all your options when it comes to integrating virtual reality into your classroom and research.

We have some special guests planned for upcoming Fireside Chats, social events, round tables, and many special events. In November, we will be celebrating the second anniversary of Educators in VR, and we hope to expand our very successful cyberbullying month in October, and participating in the International 2020 Virtual Reality Day, honoring VR with 24-hours in virtual reality.

Have we forgotten anything? I’m sure of it. And I’m sure that our Project Team Leaders are working on new projects and programs even as I write this, so stay tuned and follow us on our website here and on our social channels including our Educators in VR Discord group, Facebook, and Twitter, and subscribe to our Educators in VR event subscription channel.

We are always accepting speaker proposals for our weekly Educators in VR workshops in AltspaceVR, and eager to talk with you about bringing the expertise of the Educators in VR team to your school or institution. Yep, we’re available for hire.

Happy New Year, everyone, and here’s to many more.

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