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

Behind the Scenes of the Educators in VR International Summit

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

International Summit Spotlight: Tom Furness

2020 Educators in VR - International Summit Site Banner 1000px

We are so excited to announce that right after the “Rock In the Summit” opening ceremonies for the 2020 Educators in VR International Summit, Monday, February 17, at 2:00 PM PST / 5:00 PM EST / 10:00 PM UK/GMT in AltspaceVR, Professor Tom Furness will be our keynote speaker.

Tom Furness will also be on a panel called “Vision of the Future” with Gabriel Rene, Anson Ho, and Charlie Fink, hosted by Daniel Dyboski-Bryant in ENGAGE, Wednesday, February 19 at 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM PST / 4:30 PM EST / 9:30 PM UK/GMT.

Presenting at 3:30 PM PST / 6:30 PM EST / 11:30 PM UK/GMT, Tom Furness will discuss “Playing with Fire.” Over a career spanning 53 years, Prof. Furness has explored and developed technologies for getting bandwidth between humans and computing machines. His work has encompassed fighter cockpits, virtual reality, retinal displays, educational tools, medical simulators, pain, phobias, molecular modeling, scanning fiber endoscopes and entertainment systems. This quest has been punctuated with side trips and ‘aha’ experiences that led to unanticipated destinations. Dr. Furness plans to talk about lessons learned on his journey including unexpected delights – with a focus on the potential of VR to set minds on fire for education and training applications.

Tom Furness is the founder of the Virtual World Society, and a pioneer in human interface technology and virtual reality. He is widely known as the ‘grandfather of virtual reality.’ He received the B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Duke University and the Ph.D. in Engineering and Applied Science from the University of Southampton, England. Dr. Furness is currently a professor of Industrial Engineering with adjunct professorships in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Human-Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington. Educators in VR celebrated the life of this amazing pioneer recently.

Furness is the founder of the Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HIT Lab) at UW and founder and international director of the HIT Lab NZ at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ and the HIT Lab Australia at the University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania. He is also an Erskine Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the University of Canterbury and the University of Tasmania.

Prior to joining the faculty at the University, Dr. Furness served a combined 23 years as an U.S. Air Force officer and civilian at the Armstrong Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where he developed advanced cockpits and virtual interfaces for the Department of Defense. He is the author of the Super Cockpit program and served as the Chief of Visual Display Systems and Super Cockpit Director until he joined the University of Washington in 1989.

Dr. Furness lectures widely and has appeared in many national and international network and syndicated television science and technology documentaries and news programs. He is the inventor of the personal eyewear display, the virtual retinal display, the HALO display and holds 25 patents in advanced sensor, virtual 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 > $ 10 B. In 1998 he received the Discover Award for his invention of the virtual retinal display and in 2013 the SPIE Prism Award for the invention of the ChromaID technology. He has also received the Proto Award, the IEEE VRTG Career Award, and the AWE Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the founder and chairman of the Virtual World Society, a non-profit for extending virtual reality as a learning system for families and other humanitarian applications. He is a fellow in the IEEE.

We are honored to have Professor Furness speak at the Educators in VR International Summit.

To Attend the 2020 Educators in VR International Summit

The 2020 Educators in VR International Summit is February 17-22. It features over 170 speakers in 150+ events across multiple social and educational platforms including AltspaceVR, ENGAGE, rumii, Mozilla Hubs, and Somnium Space.

The event requires no registration, and is virtual only, free, and open to the public. Platform access is required, so please install one of the above platforms to attend the International Summit. You may attend in 2D on a desktop or laptop computer with a headphone and microphone (USB gaming headphone recommended), or with a virtual device such as the Oculus Go, Quest, and Rift, Vive, and other mobile and tethered devices. Please note the specifications and requirements of each platform.

The majority of our events are on AltspaceVR. AltspaceVR is available for Samsung Gear, Steam Store for HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality, and the Oculus Store for Rift, Go and Quest users. Download and install the 2D version for use on your Windows desktop computer.

GoFundMe Campaign for the Educators in VR International SummitEducators in VR is a social, member organization dedicated to providing educational events, trainings, and workshops for educators and learners to prepare them for the future of spatial technologies in education. We offer free weekly workshops in AltspaceVR and other platforms. We need your help to fund this International Summit as well as our ongoing educational programs, workshops, outreach, and scholarship programs. Please help us out by donating to our GoFundMe campaign, and consider volunteering by filling out our volunteering application. We need volunteers for as little as an hour or two. Every hour is appreciated. Familiarity with VR and VR platforms recommended.

Consider subscribing to our Educators in VR event subscription channel to receive regular reminders of upcoming events, including International Summit events.

Join our Educators in VR Discord group, Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for information on meetups and how to become more involved.

2020 Educators in VR International Summit Schedule. GoFundMe Educators in VR Campaign.

Announcing the 2020 Educators in VR International Summit

2020 Educators in VR International Summit logo.

During our first year, Educators in VR has accomplished great things, bringing together a global community of educators, learners, and researchers integrating virtual and spatial technologies into education, and now we’re proud to announce another ground-breaking, pioneering event: 2020 Educators in VR International Summit February 17-22, 2020.

The 2020 Educators in VR International Summit is a free, open-to-the public, virtual event lasting 6 days (over 80 round-the-clock hours) with a diverse range of speakers and presentations covering:

  • The Basics of VR/AR/XR/MR
  • Research into Spatial Technologies in Education
  • Corporate Uses for Training and Education
  • Language Arts Training, Education, and as a Classroom
  • Coaching and Personal Development
  • Medical and Science
  • Computer Science and Math
  • Student Maker/Creator Projects, Collaborations, and Apps
  • Virtual Applications and Hardware for the Classroom

And so much more. We have topics under consideration covering the use of social media with virtual reality, education in religion and virtual worlds, world building, VR/AR app development, social and educational VR platforms, and open discussions with some of the world’s foremost experts in education and integrating extended reality.

The 2020 Educators in VR International Summit will be hosted on AltspaceVR, ENGAGE, and other virtual social and educational platforms.

This will be a one-of-a-kind event bringing together a global community focused on improving our educational technology and standards, and walking the walk in an all-virtual, immersive conference. Presentations will be scheduled around the clock to ensure access no matter what your time zone.

If you are an educator, expert, evangelist, trainer, app developer or founder, researcher, or passionate learner eager to share your educational virtual reality, augmented reality, extended or mixed reality passions, we invite you to submit a Speaker Proposal for the 2020 Educators in VR International Summit. The deadline is December 30. Speakers will be announced by January 5, 2020.

Volunteers are needed to help with moderation, hosting, or recording and streaming the events throughout the week. If you would like to volunteer, please sign up with our 2020 Educators in VR International Summit Volunteer Form.

We will be announcing partners and sponsors soon, along with partner and sponsor applications. It will take much collaboration and money to support and make this free week-long event possible, and your help will be needed.

We are breaking ground here with this virtual conference covering more than 80 hours of educational presentations in a mix of traditional conference with online and distance learning familiarity, combined with a generous pinch of unconference, in virtual spaces open to all with a passion for virtual education.

We’ve seen VR change lives. Now is our opportunity to share our passion with others and learn from each other. You will not want to miss this.

Come join the fun February 17-22, 2020.