Educators in VR Weekly Workshops: Immersive Classroom

After months of planning, Educators in VR announces the first of our weekly workshops in AltspaceVR and other social VR and educational platforms, Educators in VR Immersive Classroom Workshop, exploring “The Last Glacier” Tuesday, July 2, 2019.

Instead of talking about climate change and the impact of glaciers on our ecosystem or showing videos, imagine climbing a mountain to explore the glaciers, slipping and sliding down to an ice cave as part of your lesson. The Last Glacier is an educational world designed for Earth Day that takes the visitor on a collaborative journey through the geo-science of glaciers and icebergs, and an exploration of an ice cave, representing one of the few remaining on the planet.

Ice Cave - The Last Glacier - Immersive Classroom by Lorelle VanFossen.

The Last Glacier is an interactive classroom experience representing immersive classroom experiences in maths and sciences, humanities, current events, and discovery exercises with multi-modal educational opportunities as well as leadership and team building exercises. In addition to exploring and learning from this virtual classroom, we discuss the benefits and concerns of teaching in an immersive environment and offer tips and techniques for creating your own immersive educational world for your class or as homework.

Ice Cave Tunnels - The Last Glacier - Lorelle VanFossen

This is the first of many weekly workshops produced by Educators in VR. Next Tuesday is our first Educators in VR 101, a workshop and tutorial on the basics of using virtual reality in education, covering terminology, devices, tips, and techniques. Upcoming topics for the weekly workshops include:

  • Creating and Hosting an Educational Event on Virtual Reality Platforms.
  • Creating a Virtual Training Space.
  • Health and Medical VR/AR/XR Technologies.
  • User Experience in VR.
  • Language Learning in VR/AR.
  • Product Showcases.
  • Virtual World Building in AltspaceVR.
  • Pros and Cons of the Virtual Classroom.

Our next Educators in VR Meetup is July 18 featuring Marie Graham, Director of VR/AR at the Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, presenting “Immersive Realities, Design Thinking, and Students Using Technology for Good.”

For information on attending an Educators in VR workshop or event in virtual reality, we have About – Educators in VRattendance information for you.

If you are an educator using virtual and mixed realities, please contact us to discuss presenting a 20-40 minute workshop in virtual reality. We use a variety of educational and virtual social platforms.

Educators in VR Meetup June 6, 2019: Amanda Fox

Amanda Fox of Foxbrite

The next meeting of Educators in VR in AltspaceVR is June 6, 2019. Amanda Fox, Creative Director of FoxBrite LLC (STEAMPunksEdu), is an educational pioneer and author of Teachingland: A Teacher’s Guide to the Classroom Apocalypse. She will be speaking on AR in Teachingland. The meetup event is free, open to the public, and will be in AltspaceVR. Information on access is listed below.

Amanda has taught English Language Arts, Social Studies, Film, Journalism, and now leads STEAM programs via her startup STEAMPunksEdu– in Louisville, Kentucky. Recipient of the 2016 ISTE Emerging Leader Award, recognized as a PBS Digital innovator for her initiatives in enhancing student learning with technology, Amanda also served as President of the Young Educator Network for ISTE, and received the President’s Volunteer Award. Her current project, the Zom-Be kids book series, sees her introducing design thinking to elementary students, and is the first of a series.

She is also host of The Virtual Reality Podcast, interviewing VR and AR industry experts and educators from around the world.

She has an affinity for coffee mugs, nerdy t-shirts, and can always be found in heels. You may connect with Amanda on Twitter @AmandaFoxSTEM.

Join our Educators in VR Discord group for information on meetups and how to become more involved. We publish member brags and news you can use about virtual reality in education across the entire spectrum of usage from childhood education to health and science to corporate.

Educators in VR Meetup in AltspaceVR

We meet in AltspaceVR, a free virtual reality social app and community. You may RSVP on our events page and AltspaceVR will send you a reminder an hour before the event. Alan has also built several worlds in AltspaceVR that attract a wide range of visitors, developing innovative virtual entertainment and meeting spaces.

You may attend as a guest or member using the free AltspaceVR mobile app or 2D version. AltspaceVR is available for Samsung Gear, Steam Store for HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality, and the Oculus Store for Rift, Go, and Quest (sideloaded through the APK) users. If you do not have a VR device, you may also install the 2D version for use on your Windows desktop computer version. A headset and microphone (quality earbuds acceptable) is required to participate. Otherwise please stay muted during the event as the background noise and echoes can be disruptive. For more information on accessing and installing AltspaceVR, check out their download web page.

Virtual Reality Pioneer: Tom Furness

Tom FurnessIn November 2015, Tom Furness, considered the grandfather of virtual reality, sat down with the team at Voices of the VR Podcast for an in depth interview called “#245: 50 years of VR with Tom Furness: The Super Cockpit, Virtual Retinal Display, HIT Lab, & Virtual World Society.” It’s still worth a listen and read.

Tom Furness has been thinking about virtual reality longer than most VR users have been alive. He built some of the first helmet-mounted displays for the US Air Force, and what would become the Super Cockpit. Leaving the military, he helped found the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington in Seattle, and created the non-profit, educational association, the Virtual World Society.

The Super Cockpit design by Tom Furness for the US Military.

From the University of Washington Faculty bios:

[Tom Furness] is the inventor of the personal eyewear display, the virtual retinal display, the HALO display and holds 19 patents in advanced sensor, display and interface technologies. With his colleagues Dr. Furness has started 27 companies, two of which are traded on NASDAQ at a market capitalization of > $8 B (USD). In 1998 he received the Discover Award for his invention of the virtual retinal display.

In addition to his academic appointments, Dr. Furness was the Chairman and President of the first Augmented Reality Company: ARToolworks Inc. recently acquire by DAQRI. He also runs his own ‘skunkworks’ company: RATLab LLC (RAT = rockin’ and thinkin’) where he and his colleagues develop advanced technologies for spinoff companies. His current projects deal with developing pulse diagnosis as an early warning system for cardiovascular disease and the start-up of the Virtual World Society, a non-profit for extending virtual reality as a learning system for families.

Tom is also co-inventor of the SPM (spectral matching) technology licensed to Visualant Inc. He continues to serve as a Senior Scientific Advisor for the company and recently received the 2013 SPIE Prism Award for his invention of the ChromaID technology.

Projects by the Virtual World Society include helping 28 sixth grade students at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School in Seattle, overseen by a team of University of Washington engineering students, build virtual worlds that teach STEM subjects related to gravity, light, scale, and momentum. Continue reading

Accessibility, Disabilities, and Virtual Reality Solutions

Microsoft Cantroller example of usage for visually impaired in virtual reality.
What is it like to see for the first time? UploadVR reported the story of Jamie Soar who experienced seeing for the first time in 2016. Not because of surgery or some amazing medicines, but because he had donned a VR headset.

As the headset fired up its loading room demo Soar found himself in a state of shock. His whole life he had been forced to lean in close to computer screens, books, televisions, people, anything just to get a clear look. But inside this revolutionary new device, he discovered a world that was leaning in to him.

The unique technical design of a VR headset was having something of a counteractive effect to Soar’s Pigmentosa. These contraptions may be designed to provide the illusion of depth through special lenses, but in physical reality the screens they are employing are mere centimeters away from a user’s face. This, coupled with the dual-screen projection method of the Vive — in which every single image a user sees is actually two images relayed to separate screens in front of each eyeball — ended up being the perfect storm of factors to judo-flip Soar’s typical visual impairments and render his vision closer to normal than he had experienced in decades.

Accessibility issues are a top priority in education as educators are often on the front lines to ensure equal access to all, and few things are more profound than helping a student experience and see, literally and figuratively. In the United States, 40 million Americans are classified as disabled, 12.6% of the population. Disabled World reports that 15% of the world’s population has some form of disability, and estimates that 33% of 20 year-old workers will become disabled before reaching retirement age, which ties in with the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Report in 2018 stating 1 in 4 US adults have a disability that “impacts major life activities.” An estimated 200 million people globally are visually impaired, though World Health Organization estimates 1.3 billion people live with some form of vision impairment, the majority of them over 50 years of age. These numbers are considered under-reported estimates.

Virtual reality provides opportunities for many for socialization, adventure, and experiences they may not enjoy in the real world. Those with autism, social anxieties, and mental health challenges find comfort and safety in virtual social apps and experiences. Many visually impaired VR users discover they can literally see more than they can without VR, opening up visual worlds and experiences they’ve not been able to access in the real world. Alex Lee shared his story in ALPHR about seeing more in VR after losing his sight, quoting Gary Rubin, professor of visual funtion and rehabilitation at UCL:

“The closer something is, the more magnified it is. Placing two screens inches from your eyes is essentially making things larger by filling your field of vision. Additionally, the device will have automatic gain control, which will adjust and boost the contrast of the scene. Contrast is very important in making things visible.”

This was one of many inspirations for Educators in VR to bring you more meetups and workshops on accessibility in the future. We’ve been researching the various topics of disabilities associated with virtual reality and spatial technologies, from the perspective of learners, researchers, and educators, and want to share a few of our findings and discoveries with you. It is a vast topic, so please let us know what topics and areas of study you wish for us to bring to our meetups and workshops in the comments or on our Educators in VR Discord group. Continue reading

Educators in VR Speaking at AWE 2019

AWE 2019 AWE Social XR Experience Banner

AWE USA 2019 is May 29-31, 2019, and Educators in VR will be there to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of this amazing event.

Daniel Dyboski-Bryant is flying to California to represent us in person, and Lorelle VanFossen will be attending and speaking virtually, both representing Educators in VR and our vision of the future.

Daniel and Lorelle will be speaking as part of the #AWE Conference Experience in Social XR, focusing on mobile XR in addition to Educators in VR’s Borderless Classroom project.

Friday, May 31, at 10:30AM PST, Daniel and Lorelle will be on the Education Panel hosted by Mike McCready alongside Dr. Sana Farid (Munfarid), Morgan R Mercer (Vantage Point VR), and Arjita Alka Sethi (Equally). An hour after that event at 12:00 PST, Daniel will be hosting a Master Class on Borderless Classrooms.

Events will be hosted in AltspaceVR, a free 3D/2D social VR platform, and rumii, a virtual educational software platform.

The Augmented World Expo (AWE) event includes developers, corporate industry representatives, startups, product leaders, investors, and creators of VR, AR, and XR, leaders in spatial technologies. Jimm Heppelmann of PTC will be presenting on the new essential capabilities of an AR strategy. Alisha Seam of the AT&T Foundry will be on a panel with other telecom representatives to cover how Edge Compute and 5G are opening the door to enabling pervasive XR. Avi Bar-Zeev of RealityPrime, Tish Shute of Futurewei Technologies, and Johnathan Hirshon of Horizon Communications will be tackling the concerns of privacy in virtual and augmented reality. The speaker list represents the best and brightest in the industry along with some great innovative startups, alongside Educators in VR.

Tickets are still available for this 3-day event. Individual registration for the two speaking events featuring Educators in VR are on Eventbrite for the 10-11AM PST Education Panel Discussion and Borderless Classroom Master Class in AltspaceVR at noon on Friday, May 31. Hope to see you there.

Educators in VR Featured on AltspaceVR Community Spotlight

AltspaceVR Meetup location for Educators in VR

Daniel Dyboshi-Bryant and Lorelle VanFossen, founders of Educators in VR, were featured in a recent article on the AltspaceVR blog, “Community Spotlight: Educators in VR.” The emailed interview introduces the two educators and describes their vested interest in both Educators in VR and AltspaceVR as a virtual social platform and educational space, and discusses their passion for Educators in VR.

Daniel: The idea behind the monthly events is to bring together a community of educators, trainers, researchers, organizations, and startups who meet, share, and learn — in VR — so that we are “walking the talk.”

Each month we choose a topic relevant to VR in education and invite a speaker or panel of speakers to share their insights, experiences, and resources with the community. So far we have covered VR Education research projects from Australian and German universities, presented some start-ups in the field from Finland and the US, hosted a speaker from Australia who is managing and scaling provision of immersive technologies at an organization with 500,000 learners, and heard an expert speak about harassment in VR. Next week, we have a panel of speakers discussing diversity and inclusion in VR and education.

Lorelle: Our goal is to connect the dots between administration, faculty, teachers, and students through our shared experiences and expertise. Grad students connect with educators experimenting with VR training in everything from surgery to automotive mechanics.

Attendees range from trainers to doctorates, and every educator level in between, who specialize in topics such as digital storytelling, cyberbullying, sexual harassment, automotive repair and maintenance, medical research and education, aviation… The ways virtual reality is being used in education is stunning and impressive.

Check out the rest of the article on the AltspaceVR blog.

Educators in VR Meetup on Diversity and Inclusion May 2, 2019

The next meeting of Educators in VR in AltspaceVR is May 2nd, 2019. We have a fascinating panel of speakers for this meetup on the topic of diversity and inclusion in virtual reality and education and training, representing a diverse group of educators and passionate VR enthusiasts.

Brennan Gregory Halton is the co-founder of Equal Reality, a virtual reality developer and internationally recognized immersive technologies expert. Listed on the 2019 Forbes 30/30 Social Entrepreneurs, Brennan has over a decade of experience building augmented and virtual worlds. He helped grow Meta AR Glasses to a valuation of over $300M USD as employee #7. His company, Equal Reality, helps him focus on supporting equality, diversity, and inclusion through virtual reality, putting people in the perspective of minorities to experience discrimination. He is also talented in community building, teaching, and digital content creation.

Alan Chao is a user experience designer, virtual reality enthusiast, and Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) advocate. Alan works in technology as a User Experience (UX) designer and is the founder of the popular AltUX, the User Experience Meetup in AltspaceVR. He has also built some of the most popular interactive, and social worlds in AltspaceVR, including the beautiful meditation and yoga space for EvolVR classes.

Asha Easton is currently the KTN manager for Immerse UK. She is responsible for helping to grow the immersive tech ecosystem for the country. Asha is also a VR producer and an active member of several VR groups including: the London chapter of Women in Immersive Tech (WiiT) (Facebook), that helps to support women in the industry, and the VR Diversity Initiative (VRDI), where she has taught workshops to up-skill underrepresented groups in media and technology.

Dr. Peter Bloom is a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of People and Organisations at the Open University and Co-Founder of the research group REEF (Research into Employment, Empowerment, and Futures). His research focuses on critically reimagining contemporary power, politics and economic – specifically related to themes of democracy, capitalism, and technology.

We are very excited for this panel on diversity and inclusion, and welcome you to join us.

We meet in AltspaceVR, a free virtual reality social app and community. You may RSVP on our events page and AltspaceVR will send you a reminder an hour before the event. Alan has also built several worlds in AltspaceVR that attract a wide range of visitors, developing innovative virtual entertainment and meeting spaces.

You may attend as a guest or member using the free AltspaceVR mobile app or 2D version. AltspaceVR is found in the Google Store for DayDream, Samsung Gear, in the Steam Store for HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality, and the Oculus Store for Rift, Go, and Quest users. If you do not have a VR device, you may also install the mobile version for use on your Android phone or tablet, or the desktop computer version for 2D access. A headset and microphone (quality earbuds acceptable) is required to participate. Otherwise please stay muted during the event as the background noise and echoes can be disruptive. For more information on accessing and installing AltspaceVR, check out their download web page.

Share Your Favorite Virtual Reality Experience

We’ve started a new discussion area in our Educators in VR Discord group called Favorite VR Experiences.

We are inviting our members to share a special experience with virtual reality. It could be your first time in VR, a story about a particular student or person, or maybe a memory that just stays with you.

Already we have the following:

One is my very first experience of VR. Bought a cheap mobile VR headset with no idea of what VR is. Next thing I was in the International Space Station find a virtual tour. Despite the quality, I was blown away instantly. I’ve never looked back. I’m all in.
Daniel Dyboski-Bryant

I think that every time that I get a student or a colleague to try VR for the first time. They just go really quiet for a few seconds, which is then followed by a series of ‘oh wow’ statements for the following few minutes. The ability to bring that level of happiness, enjoyment and enlightenment to individuals is just priceless.
Tim Jackson

Image from Star Chart VR App.

I knew my 80 year old mother would adore virtual reality, so I wanted to engage her immediately. A long time fan of all things outer space, I choose one of the space apps that takes you, literally, out into space visiting distance stars and planets. We were in her large master bathroom and she was standing next to me in her nighty, and I so wish I had a picture of that moment. She put the Samsung Gear headset on and stood next to me, ooing and awing about the journey through the stars, gasping at the speed she could travel through space to stand in front of a planet, reading all the information. She laughed and was having way too much fun – until she started looking in all directions and looked down. “Where are my legs! I don’t have any legs!” She backed away and lost her balance. I grabbed her and caught her nightie, yanking her over against me so she wouldn’t fall back and hit the tub, holding onto her with everything I had. I was so engaged and enthralled with her immersive joy in VR, the sudden mix of terror that I almost killed my mother with VR is something we still laugh about.
Lorelle VanFossen

Come join the fun and share your favorite experience in VR. And we look forward to seeing you at our next Educators in VR meetup tomorrow.

Educators in VR: News You Can Use for 29 March 2019

Our active Educators in VR Discord group shares news and information you can use about virtual reality in education at all levels, including corporate training and education. Here are a few of the treasures shared this week.

Brags on Our Members

VR Stats and Facts

Continue reading

Educators in VR meets VCARA – Virtual Worlds in Education

Virtual Worlds like Second Life have been used by pioneering educators for over a decade. Now many are looking to immersive VR as a new tool for their work.

On Tuesday 23rd April, Educators in VR co-founder Daniel Dyboski-Bryant gave a keynote speech at VCARA’s 10 year anniversary conference in their iSchool Island in Second Life. He spoke to about 40 VW attendees about the opportunities and challenges of education in VR, and highlighted that virtual world (VW) educators are at an advantage when approaching VR, as they are in many ways ahead of the game. As such, VW educators can bring their experience with them to help VR educators find their way. Many of the issues VR educators are currently dealing with have already been grappled with by VW educators.

Daniel Dyboski-Bryant giving a keynote speech

“Now is an exciting time for VR and education as we see the arrival of 6dof standalone headsets such as the HTC Vive Focus plus and the Oculus Quest. Couple these with 5G and a traditional education already under increasing pressures and we could be about to witness the ‘perfect storm’ in the classroom. With immersive remote teaching and training fast approaching there is a real vision for the democratization of education on the horizon.”
Daniel Dyboski-Bryant

The challenges and hurdles involved in getting started and making it work at scale were also discussed. This area is so new that much of the work is still exploratory. Resistance to adoption in schools can still be challenging and the awareness and experience of good VR is still lacking. There are many promising signs as well. One is that there seems to be considerable funding available for those who know how to apply for it.

One surprising recommendation Daniel made was the need to train ourselves in the exact opposite direction of tech. He suggested that the more powerful this immersive technology becomes, the more we need to develop habits and skills around completely unplugging. Daniel has been meditating for many years and finds that he seeks stillness and breathing even more now, just to balance out the stimulation afforded by these new technologies. There is magic to play with in VR, but it needs to be wisely approached.