Coronavirus Fundraiser: 24 Hour VR English Lesson

GoFundMe Campaign for the Educators in VR International SummitEducators in VR is proud to sponsor the first ever 24 Hour English Lesson in VR. Beginning Friday 27th March at 10 AM Rome (Italy) time / 2 AM PST / 6 PM Tokyo, Michael McDonald of Gold Lotus will run a 24 hour virtual reality English lesson to raise funds and awareness for the work of the Italian Red Cross of Lecce, southern Italy.

Volunteers from the Italian Red Cross of Lecce preparing to collect a Coronavirus patient
Italian Red Cross of Lecce Volunteers collect a Coronavirus patient.

The Coronavirus or COVID-19 is a growing concern and it is imperative that doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and volunteers are supported so they can do their jobs effectively and safely, to ensure that we can minimise the spread. Italy is one of the countries hit hardest by the virus and the death toll keeps rising daily. The south of Italy is drastically under prepared for the growing number of cases being seen, as confirmed by Professor Caruso, President of the Italian Society of Virology.

Delivery of medical supplies to a vulnerable member of the community unable to leave home
Delivery of medical supplies to a vulnerable housebound member of the community.

As a long time language instructor living in Lecce, Michael McDonald feels a sense of responsibility to contribute to the needs of the community in this difficult moment. Many funds already exist to support the global and national fight against Coronavirus, however this sponsored VR event has two specific rationale: to provide a fast and direct relief to the already stretched emergency services of a small region which normally finds it difficult to attract the funding compared to larger cities or regions, and the belief that if everyone contributed to the fight in their own community with energy then the knock-on effect across the nation and world will be enough momentum to propel us to safety.


In the past few hours, CNN reports that the Italian Civil Protection Agency says the number of coronavirus cases in Italy has reached 47,021, with 627 coronavirus-related deaths in 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 4,032 people in Italy. Resources, already stretched due to economic conditions, are nearing the breaking point. Funds raised before and during this first-ever 24-hr English Lesson event will help so many with so little.

Using his skills and talents as an instructor equally at home in the real world as well as virtual reality, McDonald will run a 24 hour English lesson completely in virtual reality where people can join and learn this language in exciting and engaging ways. To help him, the Educators in VR community and public are asked to support this cause by attending and participating in the events as well as donating to the GoFundMe campaign to help this community. Please consider donating even just a small amount to ensure that the entirely self-funded Red Cross of Lecce can cover costs of gas for ambulances, protective equipment for healthcare workers and patients.

Michael McDonald teaches language classes in AltspaceVR.

After a combined 20 years of studying and teaching foreign languages, Michael McDonald set up the Gold Lotus consultancy in Lecce, Italy, to support students accelerate their language-learning potential and cultural awareness by using virtual reality. Michael is working on a number of projects relating to English-language learning in VR, and collaborates with universities across Europe to research how immersive tasks can support the language learner or teacher. Spring 2020 also sees the start of two publicly-funded projects in Italian schools offering a program to students and teachers to build their English skills in VR and connect them, in real-time collaborative environments, to other schools globally in a virtual cultural exchange program. You may follow his progress on Twitter at @GoldLotusCo.

All funds will be collected through the GoFundMe campaign for the Coronavirus Emergency Fund for Lecce, Italy. The President of the Italian Red Cross of Lecce, Antonio Zecca, has stated on the campaign page that all funds raised will be withdrawn by him into the account of the Italian Red Cross of Lecce.

We are delighted to have partnered with Michael for this world-first initiative, by supporting him throughout the 24 hours with event spaces, moderation help and assistance to ensure that the event goes ahead smoothly. After the success of the International VR Summit that attracted more than 6,000 events attendees and 170+ guest speakers, our latest announcement of our hosting in June of the 6th Annual iLRN Conference with our newest partners iLRN, we can’t wait to kick this next event off with Gold Lotus to raise awareness and much-needed funds for a worthwhile cause, plus showing the world how people can learn English VR in exciting and engaging ways.

24 Hour English Lesson and Fundraiser Schedule

24hr English Lesson ScheduleThe following is the schedule for the 24 hour special event and fundraiser. The events are free and open to the public and found on AltspaceVR, ENGAGE, and rumii. If you are new to these platforms, please visit them and install them to your Windows computer (using a gaming headphones and mic) or install them through Steam, Oculus, or your VR store. We recommend you visit and explore these worlds prior to the event to familiarize yourself with navigation and event access.

Subject to Change: Please note that the AltspaceVR events feature events across multiple hours.

Hour 01

GoFundMe Campaign for the Educators in VR International SummitTimes (PST/CET): 2am | 10am
Keynote: A Call to Arms – How VR and Education can Inspire Language Learning & Cultural Exchange. We’ll look at the current state of language learning in VR and how you can get involved in exploring this new technology whether you’re a teacher, student, researcher or just plain interested. You get practical tips for integrating VR within the classroom and where to start if you don’t have enough funds available to even buy one headset. With special guest Daniel Dyboski-Bryant – Co-founder of Educators in VR, has worked on a number of projects relating to VR and language learning, particularly for immigrants. Also ran the world’s first and largest completely VR conference which attracted over 5,000 attendees and 175+ guest speakers.
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 02

Times (PST/CET): 3am | 11am
Build Reading Skills with VR – Join Michael of Gold Lotus as he discusses how VR can support the development of reading skills with Federico Pianzola, whose research interests are Narrative Theory and Digital Humanities. Federico explores the interdisciplinary (non-) dialogue in narrative studies (n. analysis; n. inquiry; n. therapy; folk psychology; transmedia storytelling) and also works on the impact of digital technology on reading (digital social reading; VR) and on Contemporary Italian Literature.
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 03

Times (PST/CET): 4am | 12pm
Sports – Accents of the world’s most famous sports people. Hear some of your favourite sports stars like never before! Whether it’s MMA fighter Conor McGregor’s thick Irish accent, footballer David Beckham’s soft southern-English tones or tennis star Serena Williams’ dulcet tones, we’ll listen to some of their top interviews and build an understanding of how their accents and language reflect their professional and personal success in life.
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 04

Times (PST/CET): 5am | 1pm
How to Pass English Language Exams – Learn the art of sitting a good English language exam. Millions of people worldwide sit English-language exams globally. It’s often one of the most stressful experiences students can go through, with years of study culminating in a highly-tense exam. Whether it’s reading, writing, listening or speaking that you struggle with, be sure to come along to this session to learn more from an experienced TEFL English teacher from London on how you can improve your chances of success and how you might be able to use VR in the language-exam preparation process.
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 05

Times (PST/CET): 6am | 2pm
Teach the Teacher – Tips and Tricks on how to use VR for language learning. If you are an educator looking to use VR in the classroom, then this is the meeting for you. Even if you ‘re a student interested in language learning or a researcher you’ll find this workshop a useful opportunity to get into the features of ENGAGE. Let your experience VR English teacher Michael show you around a number of different virtual locations and features but not only that, it’s your chance to feedback on how best you learn languages and how teachers could improve the way they might educate using this new exciting form of technology.
Platform Event Link: ENGAGE

Hour 06

Times (PST/CET): 7am | 3pm
Nature – Explore some of the world’s most beautiful natural sites in the 360 degree video room. Have you ever wanted to visit the world’s highest waterfall in Venezuela? Or stand among elephants as they walk around their habitat? Maybe you want to know what it’s like standing in the middle of the ocean as fish and sharks squirm around your feet? Now is the chance – you’ll learn lots of descriptive vocabulary to help you speak English much more colourfully thanks to these wonderfully engaging immersive contexts.
Platform Event Link: ENGAGE

Hour 07

Times (PST/CET): 8am | 4pm
How to Build Writing & Reading Skills in VR – with Special Guest Lorelle VanFossen! SHORT: Creative writing and sharing hour. We write in the real world and share in the virtual. We will develop your creative writing skills in all forms, from fiction to fact, from poems to storytelling. LONGER: Creative writing and sharing hour. Bring pen, paper, keyboard, 2D/3D, and be ready to write! We write in the real world and share in the virtual. We meet weekly to encourage and support creative writing in all forms, from fiction to fact, from poems to storytelling. We work with timed prompts and offer encouraging comments for shared readings. If sharing, bring 1-2 pieces not longer than 3-4 minutes reading out loud. This is a supportive and encouraging writers’ support group. Hosted by Michael, Relle and her volunteer team of writers to help you tell your story. NOTE: Oculus Go users, your headsets will turn off when you take them off. Please consider putting a piece of tape over the sensor to prevent that when you set it down to write.
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 08

Times (PST/CET): 9am | 5pm
Travel and Cultural Heritage – The past, present and future of travel. This will be an open discussion about how travel was, is and how it will be.  Special guest Dominique Lyoen of Novo3D in France. Novo3d is a company specializing in the creation of real-time 3D environments for tourism, heritage and entertainment and discuss with the audience about their travel experiences and how VR can promote tourism.
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 09

Times (PST/CET): 10am | 6pm
Space Tour – Let’s get extraterrestrial. Tour the Moon and Mars. Don’t worry, the oxygen pack and spacesuit will be provided. Join Michael and other attendees for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to space where we’ll look at a 3D model of a space buggy in action on Mars! We’ll discuss how space travel will redefine the way we holiday in future and how, even today, with enough money you can jump onto a space flight to look at our planet from above. We’ll be covering important idiomatic expressions in this lesson to give you the chance to sound more natural when you speak or write!
Platform Event Link: ENGAGE

Hour 10

Times (PST/CET): 11am | 7pm
Travel – Ancient Avebury – Tour a 5,000 year old Neolithic site in England, learning about how people of Avebury lived in 2,800 BC. We’ll look at the tools and customs adopted at the time to live and hunt, which will launch us into our bigger discussion on the topic of ancient civilisations, from the Incas to the Aztecs to the lesser-known but equally-fascinating populations which have walked this earth long before our time.
Platform Event Link: ENGAGE

Hour 11

Times (PST/CET): 12pm | 8pm
Crime and Punishment – Grizzly medieval punishments, unsolved crimes – let’s play Sherlock Holmes. After a tour of some of the most interesting crimes and cases in history, we’ll then open up the discussion on crime and punishment and practise conditional “if” structures in English to play judge and jury!
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 12

Times (PST/CET): 1pm | 9pm
Short Stories – Listen to some short stories from readers around the world with special guest readings – build your understanding of how to perfect your pronunciation and intonation when you read, which is not just a key skills for English language exams but life in general. We’ll look a range of different texts, such as newpaper articles, poems, government announcements – each one has a different tone to them and we’ll not only learn how to learn from those styles of English language but extract the key points to be able to apply them to our own lives after. Feel free to bring a short text to the event to read to the fellow attendees. All are welcome.
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 13

Times (PST/CET): 2pm | 10pm
Music – Listen to some music from around the world and learn how to describe different genres. Music is one of life’s great pleasures. It’s the classic conversation topic with friends, family and work colleagues – not to mention the ultimate ice breaker! For that reason let’s take a tour around the world to listen to some of the most amazing sounds – covering melodies that are both unfamiliar and not. We’ll open up the floor to hearing about your favourite musical experiences, whether they be concerts, romantic nights at home or sitting on a cold train traveling to work on a Monday morning. If you’re feeling brave we might even get you to come up on stage and practise your singing skills! As always, your teacher Michael will correct your English if you’re not a native speaker and give you feedback on how you might be able to improve the way you talk about this topic with key vocabulary and grammatical structures.  With special guest Margie Dimon – long-time barbershop singer from Kentucky, USA.  
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 14

Times (PST/CET): 3pm | 11pm
Money – The past, present and future of money. We’ll look at the key characteristics of a typical banknote found in the UK – the Pound Sterling. Once we’ve done some reading and looked at the history of the Sterling currency, we’ll explore a HUGE £50 banknote to look at the features. This will be a sight to behold, you’ll never have seen anything like this in your life.
Platform Event Link: rumii room code rjeqw1

Hour 15

Times (PST/CET): 4pm | 12am
The Past, Present and Future of Transport – Jump on a London Underground train and learn about the history of one of the world’s oldest metro systems, but that’s not before we look at the Oyster card and its history. Once you’ve learned about how you can travel on the underground network and we’ve shared our own experiences of public transport systems, we’ll pass through a 3D model of a real London Underground barrier system to board the train and enjoy the ride!
Platform Event Link: rumii room code rjeqw1

Hour 16

Times (PST/CET): 5pm | 1am
The Art of Study – How to approach the way you study differently to build confidence and success. This is not necessarily about how to study for exams, but how to refine the way you study in general, in particular regarding foreign languages. We’ve all spent years going through an education system at some point but how many times has the teacher ever asked you, the student, how YOU want to learn? Would you ever go to a restaurant and the waiter assume what you want to eat? In this ever-globalised world with so much technology at our fingertips, surely it’s time to up the conversation, involve students and their parents to a wider level and drive education into a whole new era. With two young, very special guests – school students and sisters Abi Smithson and Holly Smithson.
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 17

GoFundMe Campaign for the Educators in VR International SummitTimes (PST/CET): 6pm | 2am
Nature and Environment – Learn about bees and their importance. Bees are such a crucial part of our ecosystem and it’s imperative that we respect them and try to nurture them, particularly in a world which is becoming much more urban and covered in concrete. We’ll look at the importance of bees for our world, how honey is made and what you can do to support these small but hugely important creatures.
Platform Event Link: Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 18

Times (PST/CET): 7pm | 3am
Festivals around the World – With international guests and audience participation, we’ll discuss cultures, traditions, and festivals. Featuring special guest Rohit Chaube of VRoCKs which runs virtual reality hackathons with students around the world. Rohit himself is from India but now living and working in the US and he will be sharing his stories about what life is like in India and in particular in relation to their wonderful festivals, food and music culture.
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 19

Times (PST/CET): 8pm | 4am
Photography – We explore the world’s most iconic photographs from the past and present to stimulate descriptive, creative vocabulary to add some color to your English. We’ll also have special guest Mat Chacon of Doghead Simulations (rumiiVR) as you’ve never seen him before – talking about his award-winning photography!
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 20

Times (PST/CET): 9pm | 5am
Food and Drink. Food is what brings us all together. We’ve all been to restaurants, cooked for someone or had someone special cook for us. We’ll explore some of the world’s finest and most traditional delicacies, their histories and of course get our teeth into a juicy discussion!
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 21

Times (PST/CET): 10pm | 6am
Inventions – Look at some of the wackiest and most significant inventions ever made – and put ourselves to the test, can we invent solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems? We’ll look at traits of some of the world’s most famous inventors – is it a case of nature or nuture? What about the inventions which were stumbled upon by accident? We’ll cover it all here!
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 22

Times (PST/CET): 11pm | 7am
How to Thrive in a Global Community – panel discussion with international guests.  Join Michael McDonald, Dr. Sana Farid & Steve Bambury as we discuss our thoughts on how to thrive as a global citizen. Times are changing so fast that it’s easy to be swept along with the technology, constant connectivity and feeling overwhelmed by world events but in this talk with these two respective leaders in their fields – Dr Farid in #VR #AI and #healthcare and Steve in #education and #VR, we’ll get into the finer details of what it’s like to live and work in a multicultural community, reflecting on their own journies and where we’re going in the future.
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 23

Times (PST/CET): 12am | 8am
Superstitions around the World – Learn about strange superstitions in the past and cultural differences around the world today. Knock on wood, black cats and more. Some of these superstitions are steeped in history, and for good reason. But what about modern superstitions? How is technology changing the way we perceive life, luck and destiny? With attendees joining this conversation from around the world, come along to share your own experiences and be amazed at the ways other people live in distant countries from you.
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

Hour 24

Times (PST/CET): 1am | 9am
CLOSING TALK: The Future of Foreign Language Learning and Teaching. How to use education and cutural exchange as a vehicle to bring about truly positive, global change.
Platform Event Link: AltspaceVR

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