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.

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Educators in VR Events for September 2019

Educators in VR - June 2019 Meetup in AltspaceVR.We have so many things planned for September with Educators in VR, you might need a road map to keep up with us. To get you started, here is a quick summary for you to add to your calendar. We’ve some amazing diverse speakers and presenters to help you consider a wide range of options for integrating virtual reality and augmented reality into your teaching.

Monthly Meetup

Educators in VR meets monthly in AltspaceVR with a special guest speaker and topic. The one-hour meetup is usually the third Thursday of the month.

September 19, 2019 – Matt Cook of the Virtual World Society: Matt Cook is working with a volunteer group to teach students at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School to develop their own STEM-based eductional VR experiences in Seattle. A graduate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington and Project Engineer at RATLab LLC, he is developing virtual reality curriculum and VR content for research projects to push the envelope on VR in education. He is a senior advisor for the Virtual World Society.

October 24, 2019 – Mina Johnson-Glenberg of Embodied Games : Mina Johnson-Glenberg is a cognitive psychologist, game designer, STEM specialist, and research professor at Arizona State University and president of the award-winning learning technology company, Embodied Games, LLC. The Embodied Games lab has been at the forefront of creating “embodied” and kinetically-active games using sensors and motion capture technologies. Dr. Johnson-Glenberg will be speaking about accessing educational quality of VR modules with a newly developed Rubric Alpha Version. She presents nationally and internationally and has published in peer-reviewed journals on VR and STEM education. Her most recent work was on Frontiers in Robotics and AI. You will not want to miss this meetup.

Weekly Workshops

We offer free weekly workshops in AltspaceVR and other virtual social and educational platforms to encourage educators to expand their knowledge and skills in virtual, augmented, and extended reality. These workshops are free and open to the public. See our information on how to attend Educators in VR events.

September 10, 2019 – Immersive Classroom: Climate Change: Lorelle VanFossen will be presenting another immersive classroom experience in AltspaceVR on climate change associated with oceans and glacial melt. These are open discussion events exploring how to build and teach within immersive environments and discuss the various educational topics such world building spaces offer. The event is free and RSVP is recommended.

September 17, 2019 – Educators in VR 101: Daniel Dyboski-Bryant will be presenting the basics of virtual reality for educators and learners in AltspaceVR. We offer this free program for those considering integrating virtual reality in the classroom and those new to the experience, or a refresher course on the basics. We recommend RSVP soon and arrival two minutes before start time as the event often fills quickly.

September 24, 2019 – Immersive Classroom: EvolVR: Jeremy Nickels of EvolvVR (Facebook) is a long-time educator and leader in immersive education leading meditation and yoga programs weekly in AltspaceVR for over 2 years. He’s worked with world builders to develop custom worlds and event spaces, pushing the limits of virtual and guided instruction in VR. He will be sharing his expertise on developing innovative virtual programs that connect mind, spirit, and body in an immersive experience. Continue reading

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 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.

Submissions Requested for Scenes and Screens Festival

Scenes and Screens Festival: Speculative Realities (Year 2) is currently accepting submissions for papers, film, performance, and VR installations. The subtopics for this year: Degrees of Freedom, Moments of Inertia, and Presence of Mind. Held on August 2nd-4th, 2019, the works presented at #SAS2019 will be documented and archived by AltspaceVR and then provided to the artists involved as their takeaway.

Applications for Scenes and Screens Festival should be received by no later than 11:59PM PT, May 15th, 2019. Chosen works will be notified of their selection by June 30th, 2019.

This event is free and there are no entry fees. All are welcome to submit and participate.

Last year’s showcase brought together international talents and artistry on the theme hyperconnect. There is a tremendous need for artists looking for representation, but it takes time and money to apply to residencies, other festivals, things to get a foothold in the art world. This festival offer an opportunity for little or no cost to share their talents and showcase them globally via AltspaceVR.

Come share your talents in virtual reality!

For more information, please visit AltspaceVR Scenes and Screens Festival 2019.