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

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.