Tom Furness and the Virtual World Society in AltspaceVR

Tom Furness Keynote the window - Educators in VR International Conference

Tom Furness is coming back to AltspaceVR on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, and this time, he is bringing part of his Virtual World Society team to share what they are doing to turn the education industry upside down with virtual reality.

We’ve shared our love and passion for Tom Furness and the Virtual World Society here on our site and through our social media channels, and if you missed his presentation at the 2020 Educators in VR International Summit, watch it now on our Educators in VR YouTube channel.

Professor Furness will be discussing the work of the Virtual World Society, and announcing some very exciting news that will impact all of us.

He also brings us some homework and requests our support for some very worthy causes the Virtual World Society is supporting.

First, homework. Before the event, please complete this short 2 minute survey that asks you how you are doing with COVID-19 isolation and how you can help the Virtual World Society and how they can help you. The results will be announced at the event.

Next, you will learn about the generous work the Virtual World Society is doing for the Make a Wish program and other community events and activities. Please support these worthy causes by donating and spreading the word as it takes a community.

Consider joining the Virtual World Society and be among the growing membership determined to democratize and disrupt VR in education.

Tom Furness, Virtual World Society founder.Dr. Tom Furness is a virtual reality pioneer and inventor who has earned the title “Grandfather of Virtual Reality.” He is Professor in the University of Washington Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, and the founder of the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington and its sister labs at the University of Canterbury and University of Tasmania. He is known for his contributions developing virtual interface technology and its applications in education, training, medicine, design and entertainment. He and his students and colleagues have spun off 27 companies in the immersive computing space. He is also the general manager and owner of the RATLab (Rocking and Thinking Laboratory) and Founder of the Virtual World Society.

Expect to see Professor Furness and his Virtual World Society team members in and around AltspaceVR and the metaverse more often, but we won’t share any more details. You’ll just have to show up tomorrow and see what all the fuss and excitement is about!

PS: This week is his 77th birthday. To celebrate and honor his life-long work and passion, join the Virtual World Society and let’s make his dreams come true.

VR/AR High School Virtual Hackathon

VRoKC VRX Extended Challenge 2020 logoEducators in VR is proud to support the VXR Extended Challenge 2020 by VRoKCs (VR Rocks), the non-profit, software development mentoring program for high school students out of Kansas City. While usually a real-life challenge and event working with student teams and teachers, this year it’s gone totally virtual with students working from home.

To help you learn more about this virtual hack-a-thon style collaborative event, Rohit Chaube of VRoKCs will present an overview and discussion of the VXR Extended Challenge 2020 in AltspaceVR Tuesday, April 14.

The VXR Extended Challenge 2020 is a pressure-test in utilizing design thinking and collaboration with virtual teams to build a functioning VR/AR prototype that addresses a specific problem. After the challenge, teams may receive help to build their prototype into a minimal viable product (MVP), working toward making it a commercially viable product.

The challenge will be issued April 17 at 12PM GMT, igniting the spirit of collaboration and teamwork in VR and AR development.

The final project and pitch video is due online by May 3 at noon GMT, then submitted to a panel of VR/AR and industry partners for judging. Winners and prizes will be announced at the upcoming Students in VR conference, May 7-8, 2020, in AltspaceVR and ENGAGE.

Throughout the challenge, there will be workshops and Q&A sessions hosted online for the student participants to help them learn from industry expertse the latest VR/AR tools, techniques, and problem-solving. Technical mentors and subject matter experts will also be available to help the student teams.

This is a powerful educational and self-directed learning challenge and experiment for the students every year, but this year is even more challenging. The challenge is also now open to any high school student (9th-12th grade). Students must provide their own devices, and any VR/AR device is acceptable including the use of smart phones, Google Cardboard, and Oculus, VIVE, and other VR devices. Don’t have one, they recommend the students be creative and borrow one or sue web browser based VR tools like A-Frame, or build your own. That’s part of the challenge.

If you are a high school student, or a teacher of high school students, and wish to be involved, attend our special event Tuesday in AltspaceVR for an overview, and visit VXR Extended Challenge 2020.

April 2020 Events and Workshops

Educators in VR is busier than ever as the world stays self-isolated, working from home, reaching out to virtual reality and Educators in VR to help provide resources, consulting, and training on producing and hosting virtual events in VR.

This past month found us busier than ever as we moved from the success of the 2020 Educators in VR International Summit into consulting, training, and production support for schools, governments, businesses, and conferences changing from real-world to virtual.

Michael McDonald of Gold Lotus and the Educators in VR 24 Hr English Lesson in VR.We also had a very successful first-ever 24 Hour English Lesson and fundraiser with Michael McDonald of Gold Lotus, an Educators in VR sponored and produced event that raised over 2,000 Euro for Red Cross Italy Lecce and had hundreds of attendees across 3 virtual platforms in those 24 hours. Well done, Michael!

In addition to our regularly weekly Educators in VR workshops on Tuesdays in AltspaceVR, we have special events, open discussions, and great news for you. We’ve also updating our Educators in VR events calendar on Google to help you find all our events across multiple platforms, including our Educators in VR AltspaceVR channel. For a look at all the events across the VR metaverse, check out the VR Events by VRevents.io.

Educators in VR Workshops and Trainings

Educators in VR Workshop with Sonya Haskins, esports and VR games expert.Tuesday Weekly Workshops: We meet in AltspaceVR and the workshops are free and open to the public.

Educators in VR International Summit - Workshop.Training Workshops: Educators in VR is dedicated to providing training programs and workshops for educators, learners, researchers, and anyone interested in creating educational events in VR. The workshops are a combination of free introductory programs and paid workshops.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Green Conference: Reducing Carbon Emissions with a Virtual Conference

A virtual conference is a green decision. Instead of traveling, staying in hotels, and using a convention center, Educators in VR prevented more than 7.5 million kg of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere.

Article and analysis by Don Balanzat

Educators in VR International Summit logo.Educators in VR made history a couple of weeks ago by holding the largest immersive virtual conference, the 2020 Educators in VR International Summit. It featured 170 speakers in over 150 events on 5 different virtual platforms over 6 days, and an estimated 6,000 people attended. A volunteer team of 75 people made this possible, as explained in a recent Behind the Scenes of the International Summit workshop.

In addition to being the first time a VR virtual conference of this size ever took place, the conference’s impact on anthropogenic climate change was exciting. With the rising concern over the amount of academic and professional travel that takes place to produce such conferences, mixed with the unfortunate timing of the COVID-19/coronavirus outbreak, the team asked me to explore the environmental impact of the conference. Travel and energy utilities are generally the highest percentages of any given individual’s carbon footprint.

Virtual conferences can be an incredibly impactful way in which we can individually and societally reduce our carbon output, and slow the human impact on the climate change process.

Considerations and Calculations

Discussing this with the Educators in VR team, we had to consider the comparison of the virtual conference with a real world conference, and make some considerations and assumptions for our calculations. To ensure we are all on the same page, let me explain.

ASVR - Stargate Command with Relle and Mark

Until transportation improves, travel through Stargate Command is limited to virtual reality.

Because of the international nature of attendees in Educators in VR, we had to consider a broad range of travel options – cars, rail, planes – and different distances. Virtually, people stayed wherever they were, attending from homes, offices, schools, even parks, rarely traveling out of reach of a stable WIFI connection. If this was a real-world conference, travel would be the largest impact on the environment. Continue reading

Lessons Learned from Hosting a VR Conference

Behind the Scenes - 2020 Educators in VR International Conference virtual conference - collage

We are still gathering feedback and data about our incredibly successful 2020 Educators in VR International Summit, February 17-22, 2020. We just held a Behind the Scenes of the International Summit workshop in AltspaceVR, and wanted to present some of our information and lessons learned.

A Little History

Educators in VR begin in November 2018 with the idea of bringing together educators and learners from within the VR community to share and discuss integrating VR into education. What was expected to be a meetup of 20-30 people became a 180 participants event. We began with monthly meetups, but the demand and interest was stunning, so we upped it to once a week workshops that continue to fill over a year later.

The topics and guest speakers have been incredible, covering a wide variety of industries and specialties from language learning to integrating AR into book publishing.

Behind the Scenes - History of Educators in VR virtual events

Within a short time, passionate educators, learners, and researchers asked it they could start their own groups under the Educators in VR umbrella, focusing on their specialty. Currently, we have eight such team projects, with more on the way. These team projects host events with speakers and topics, and are building communities in and of themselves, connecting like minds across borders. Most of the action happens on our Educators in VR Discord group, though some are also connecting on our Facebook group. You may check out the events in AltspaceVR on our Educators in VR AltspaceVR channel and subscribe to be notified of upcoming events.

At the beginning of 2019, co-founders Daniel Dyboski-Bryant, and myself, Lorelle VanFossen, discussed ideas for where we wanted to go in the future, and top of the list was a virtual conference. I wanted a 3-4 days conference, and Daniel laughed and said, “Why don’t we make it a week-long conference?” We compromised on 6 days, and the idea was born for the Educators in VR International Summit.

The idea of the International Summit was to be a proof-of-concept. Could we do it? Could we really create an all virtual, 24-hour, 6 day global conference and:

  • Would speakers want to present about VR in VR?
  • Who would show up for a conference in VR about VR?

Both solid questions, and of course, we quickly expanded VR to all the XR technologies. The excitement and interest of AWE 2019 was our first inclination that this was not just possible but feasible as we presented virtual workshops to people around the world from “within” the AWE side conferences. We kept experimenting at other conferences, adding a virtual component to in-person conferences, and eventually decided that February 2020 would be the date for taking the concept out of the idea box and proving we could actually do this. Continue reading

UPDATE: Rocking Out the Summit in AltspaceVR & Somnium Space

UPDATE: To ensure the best experience for our users, we will be hosting the main event for the closing ceremonies in both worlds simultaneously: Somnium Space and AltspaceVR.

Access to Somnium Space is available only to PC/VR users, not desktop/2D or mobile users. If you have access, join the party there. We will have a live stream from the event there into AltspaceVR for the first part of our Rock Out the Summit event.

Join us on both of these innovative platforms to celebrate this record-breaking International Summit.


Somnium Space - Educators in VR 2

SIX DAYS! We can’t believe it. We have completed five and we are on our way to six. We have an amazing closing ceremony called the “Rock Out the Summit” at noon PST Saturday, February 22, in Somnium Space. Come join us in celebrating this record-breaking 2020 Educators in VR International Summit!

Somnium Space people from website.We are so thrilled to be a part of the grand opening of Somnium Space, and we’ve accepted the challenge to fill it with another record-breaking event: the largest group of people in a single virtual space.

The current record was by High Fidelity and stands at 462 people in the same virtual space. That is our goal, and with the help of Somnium Space, and you, we can break that.

Somnium Space - Educators in VR 1Somnium Space is an open, social, and persistent virtual reality world. You may buy land or import objects and instantly monetize and shape your own universe and experience.

VRScout described Somnium Space:

Somnium 2.0 has been designed to host all the players in a single interface, unlike other multiplayer VR gamers where players are categorized into sub servers and mirrored instanced rooms. The solution will be studded with new lucrative features such as persistent server architect and native NFT integration. These unique features help the creators to design and deploy the creations on the land owned by them. Somnium 2.0 will uplift the experience with features like enhanced graphics, full-body Avatars, along with support for Builder and Unity SDKs for creation and avatar importing.

We are thrilled to celebrate the opening of this innovative virtual space. It is currently only accessible by PC 2D Desktop and PC VR devices, not mobile like Oculus Go and Quest. They are working on that, but right now opening up to Educators in VR members and community and everyone to not just celebrate their grand opening but our own record-breaking conference.

To join, you may join on the web or download their client from Somnium Space. Register and when you arrive, you should see signs and information for our Educators in VR celebration. They’ve set up a special pavilion for us.

Accept the challenge and join us for the closing ceremonies and help us rock out the Summit tomorrow, noon, in Somnium Space.

We will also have an after party social in AltspaceVR, which we will be announcing in the next couple hours!

Tom Furness ENCORE in 2020 Educators in VR International Summit

Tom Furness presenting in AlstpaceVR.Tom Furness is back for an ENCORE at the 2020 Educators in VR International Summit on Friday – today at 6PM PST in AltspaceVR.

Tom was our keynote speaker Monday at the start of the Educators in VR International Summit and part way through his presentation when, we assume the power of his presentation combined with the impact of the Educators in VR International Summit blew out the power in his University of Washington VR Lab.

This ground-breaking pioneer in VR and founder of the Virtual World Society worked with his team to restore power, but too late for the event. He’s been with us on and off throughout the week, and is now back to not only look at the past, to the beginings of virtual reality, a field he developed, creating the prototypes that eventually became the devices we wear on our faces, but where we are going in the future as we play with fire and push the technology even further.

Come join us to not only celebrate the life and thought-leader, Tom Furness, but help us boost the event through the last 24 hours into the record books!

Tom Furness - Speaker Card - 2020 Educators in VR International summit.

Expanding Minds in the Metaverse: Special Panel Presentation

The 2020 Educators in VR International Summit, February 17-22, 2020, is breaking all the rules and the records, and continues on through Saturday. Come join the fun. It’s free and accessible in 2D(PC Desktop with headphones) or 3D devices in AltspaceVR, ENGAGE, rumii, and Somnium Space.

Tonight, we are honored to have five leaders in the virtual technology industry with us for a special panel discussion, Engaging Minds in the Metaverse in AltspaceVR, Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 10:00 PM PST / 1AM Thu EST / 6AM UK/GMT.

This is an incredible opportunity to meet the people behind the devices, educational and social platforms, developers, researchers, and thought-leaders of virtual technology, to hear their thoughts about where spatial technology in education is today, and where it is going. We are thrilled to welcome Alvin Wang Graylin, Artur Sychov, Mat Chacon, David Whelan, and Karolina Manko to our virtual stage tonight.

Alvin Wang GraylinAlvin Wang Graylin, President, HTC Vive, Mr. Graylin is the China President at HTC, leading all aspects of the Vive/VR (VIVE.com) and the Smartphone businesses in the region. He is also currently Vice-Chairman of the Industry of Virtual Reality Alliance (IVRA.com) with 300+ company members, President of the $18B Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance (VRVCA.com) and oversees the Vive X VR Accelerators (VIVEX.co) in Beijing, Shenzhen and Tel Aviv.

Artur SychovArtur Sychov is Founder and CEO of Somnium Space. He has been navigating virtual worlds for more than two decades starting with Ultima Online in 1999, then Second Life and many more. Artur strongly believes in the ultimate future of Virtual Reality worlds with open and decentralized economy, amazing creation tools where imagination is the only limit. Artur has worked as an investment trader for many years before creating his first startup and becoming a serial entrepreneur.

Mat ChaconMat Chacon is the co-founder of Doghead Simulations and the innovative educational and meeting platform, rumii. In 1994, he started a website development company, and at 25, took part in the $63 million USWeb IPO. By 45, he was named a top 20 VR executive. He eventually returned to school and attended college, and now teaches online education for free, much of it in virtual reality, determined to make education accessible and affordable to all.

David WhelanDavid Wheland is a tech entrepreneur and founder of VR Education PLC. He is a former Editor-in-chief of Virtual Reality Reviewer and a multi-awarding winning VR director and producer with 10+ years web development, a background in app creation and programming large CRM systems. David believes in a future where education is accessible to all no matter your geographical location or financial status. David’s company VR Education PLC are also the people behind the ENGAGE virtual training and education platform providing users easy to use tools to create and share immersive learning experiences. David has directed and produced Apollo 11 VR and 1943 Berlin Blitz. David also produced Titanic VR and Shuttle Commander.

Karolina MankoKarolina Manko, Program Manager and Marketing, AltspaceVR, is an expert project manager in media and technology (XR/MR) sectors. As a project and community manager, she managed Future of StoryTelling community, creating year-round events and community projects, responsible for growth and management of FoST Community including working individuals and key orgs such as Meow Wolf, The VOID, Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab, Punchdrunk, Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, etc. A thought-leader and published author, and winner of the 2017 BOAAT Writers’ Fellowship, The 2012 David Markowitz Poetry Award, and the 2012 Esther Unger Poetry Prize. She is also a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society, and Phi Betta Kappa Honor Society.

Join us tonight North American time zone, morning UK, and whatever time it is in your time zone.