Educators in VR Meetup: July 18 with Marie Graham

Marie Graham - Mount Vernon Presbyterian School Atlanta GeorgiaThe next Educators in VR Meetup is July 18, 2019, in AltspaceVR, and we are thrilled to host Marie Graham, Director of VR/AR at the Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, Atlanta, Georgia, presenting “Immersive Realities, Design Thinking, and Students Using Technology for Good.”

An immersive technology evangelist, Marie Graham is the director of a high school VR/AR Lab, a teacher of humanities and innovation. She leads and learns with an amazing group of students and faculty at Mount Vernon School. Partnering with Alienware, HTC Vive, and Oculus, her school created a VR/AR lab where students create non-gaming content that positively impacts both local and international communities. In her former life, she was a certified nurse-midwife and family nurse practitioner, and is a passionate writer, painter, and traveler.

Design, creativity, and empathy are key points she makes in her work, and with the presentation she will be sharing with us July 18. Even for students without coding experience, Marie develops innovative, impactful VR/AR content and programs for a variety of industries. She explains:

Almost every industry is impacted by immersive technology, and students have the opportunity now to focus this innovation towards designing a better world. As director of virtual and augmented reality lab in Atlanta, Georgia, a school steeped in Design Thinking, I will share the creation of a unique, thriving VR/AR lab in partnership with Dell/Alienware, HTC Vive, and Oculus that asks students to create non-gaming content with industry leaders to make the world a better place through empathy and design. My students are currently working with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) creating content for pediatric rehab patients (three current prototypes), designing a VR lab and content for tribal children in Muvalia, India, and filming an immersive 360 video for patrons in a local history museum. Getting out of the way of students allows them to harness this powerful technology that leaves them not only future-ready, but empathizing in a way that leaves them better human beings.

Here are just a few examples of why we are so excited to have Marie Graham be a part of Educators in VR.

Her hour-long presentation will include questions and answers and time for socializing, an opportunity to meet other educators and students with a vested interest in spatial technologies from around the world.

Our next meetup is September 19, 2019. Educators in VR will be taking a break during August, as we hope you do as well, and will be back with a full line of great speakers and weekly workshops on educational topics on VR, AR, XR, and teaching in the virtual world.

Join our Educators in VR Discord group, Facebook, and follow up on Twitter 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) 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

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.

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.

Next Meetup is March 21 with Joe Millward from TAFE NSW

TAFE logo and building sign in Sydney.The next meeting of Educators in VR in AltspaceVR is March 21, 2019. Joe Millward from TAFE NSW will be joining us to talk about how to scale up provision of VR in education.

TAFE NSW is Australia’s leading provider for more than 1200 education and training courses with over 500,000 students attending on campus, online, through distance learning, or in the workplace. Established as an independent statutory body under the TAFE Commission Act 1990, the original NAFE NSW started over 130 years ago in New South Wales as a vocational project, helping to educate workers during the Depression and following the World Wars. Today, they provide educational and counseling to multicultural, aboriginal, and migrant populations across Australia. Their information and communications technology courses are expected to grow by 75% over the next ten years to serve the digital economy. They even have a Wikipedia page with details about the courses and areas and topics they cover.

Come join us March 21, 2019, in AltspaceVR for an informative discussion on how they meet the growing need for virtual reality in education.

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.