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Reflections on the VWBPE Conference

Many of the people taking this course will participated, volunteered at or attended the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education 2012 conference. KK Millet has written a blog post on how you can use this course as a way to reflect on what you experienced or learned at the conference.

So please do post your ideas, comments and discussion on what the conference covered.

What new concepts were you introduced to?

What needs more discussion?

What speaker/s created a reaction from you and why?

Or perhaps you have already written a blog post on this - please share with us.

What other reflective questions should we be asking?

Week 4 - Bleeding Edge is still open to development , so please go this google survey and let them know what you would like to do in Week 4.


If you have comments related to the conference website, logistics, programming, organization or suggestions for the conference please email or

Task Discussion

  • DelightfulDoowangle   March 22, 2012, 9:01 p.m.

    This year, my first full year, I attended the conference almost non-stop to get as much in as possible. I also volunteered hoping my limited knowledge would serve and it worked out okay. I learned so much.

    Major take aways were Chris Dede's need to unlearn, which is threatening like exposing your "self" through using web 2.+ tools whether for teaching or for participating in professional development events such as this one. I just bought his new book, Digital Teaching Platforms

    Machinima examples and explanations made me want to delve into digital storytelling. Watching the machinimas together at the Be Epic Japanese-themed park reminded me of the movie the Wedding Planner where people watched the black and white movies in Golden Gate Park.

    I also want to become an Agilista like Bill Firehawk describes. Using SL as a collaborative platform is the way to get good things done. So many more things to follow up on. The First Responder Island, Virtual Harmony, and practical applications that could be used by my institution if they get serious about support are some key examples that stand out. Whew! 




  • Cyndyl   March 22, 2012, 12:28 p.m.

    The VWBPE Conference was fantastic! The timing of the conference was perfect so that teachers from an online class I am facilitating were able to attend. I especially enjoyed the NIA Universe (Active Worlds) presentation and tour of the virtual environment created by teachers and used by student groups. I also thought the poster sessions done by VSTE and SLEEC were especially helpful in learning about ways students and teachers can use virtual worlds for learning and professional development.

    I am looking forward to learning about virtual environments that can be set up to be safe for students and ways VE can be used with teachers for professional development.

  • gardengirl   March 19, 2012, 7:01 p.m.

    Well, the panel session for this MOOC got my attention, because here I am! wink

    The brainstorming session was also very valuable for me.  I am finding myself behind in the knowledge curve, but do know that VW and associated applications have a very powerful potential in the classroom.  Being able to connect with people who see the same frustrations (as well as possibilities) as I do is always a good thing, and being able to participate, no matter how small that participation is, in the discussion is also encouraging.

    The sessions have also reintroduced the idea of how techniques such as Machinima can be used in the classroom.  One of my goals here is to experiment with this, and to learn how to make them.

  • Kae   March 19, 2012, 10:37 p.m.
    In Reply To:   gardengirl   March 19, 2012, 7:01 p.m.

    Girdjumper aka Tanya Smedley is facilitating the Machinima week. I don't want to ruin any surprises - but wait until you see what she planned!

  • Rurik Nackerud   March 19, 2012, 5:32 p.m.

    This may seem like the conference launched me out of the conference (it didn't) but by the end of the last session I was extremely pumped to go about developing some augmented reality lessons.

    I don't know what it was about the sessions I watched or the editing of the daily or watching the twitter feeds and the Pinterest and Flickr boards but - I really want to play more with this genre. At the same time all the worlds have enormous appeal and somehow I want to experiment in all of them. Too much for me to accomplish but extremely tempting to try.

  • Rurik Nackerud   March 19, 2012, 4:27 p.m.

    It is interesting isn't it?

    I personally find the semantics annoying. Gamification really should work - it is catchy, easy to connect to the larger concept, and - a single word.

    When I hear situational learning I do not think of immediate feedback while pursuing discrete goals that lead to a broader picture. I do not imagine getting excited about a topic - I image standing at a checkout line as the cashier with the nametag hastily written in permanent marker and a second tag saying NEWB Cashier - please be nice....

  • Gridjumper   March 19, 2012, 4:22 p.m.


    What new concepts were you introduced to?

    I heard about some virtual worlds (ex. Eve) I was unaware of.  getting my passpport together - want ot visit them all!

    What needs more discussion?

    The concept of gamification.  During one of the keynotes the suggestion was made to come up with another word and the word "situational learning" was used later in the confernce.  Perhaps a good synonym, but rather than replace the word I think we need to discuss how we can convince and validate that the concept of gamification is valid in the world of teaching and learning.

    What other reflective questions should we be asking?

    Why is it a battle?  What are the barriers to widespread adoption of virtual worlds in education?  Will it always be a niche?

  • Jerry Buchko   March 19, 2012, 9:32 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Gridjumper   March 19, 2012, 4:22 p.m.


    One reflective question about gamification I think should be asked is about when it might be appropriate to utilize and when it might not. I didn't make that particular keynote and perhaps the presenter spoke to this, but I think there are some potentially unwanted effects that gamification can have on human intrinsic motivation & behavior.

    There was a blog post I recently encountered that I thought did a fairly good job of speaking to this, or at least raising the issue for consideration within the context of education:



    I think one of the barriers to widespread adoption is probably the perceived cost of hardware & other infrastructure upgrades in many schools. As I understand it, not all virtual worlds are as demanding as Second Life as far as hardware requirements, but even with other less demanding options, I wonder how old the technology infrastructure might be on average in schools. I wonder if anyone has done a general assessment or study on this?

  • Kae   March 19, 2012, 11:14 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Gridjumper   March 19, 2012, 4:22 p.m.

    The concept of gamification

    I think the term gamification came on too quickly, the marketers found it because of popularity of Facebook games and now it feels a little smarmy.  I think this puts it into prospective a bit - TED Talk, Jesse Schell: When games invade real life

    There is a bit of rush - to give everything badges, levels, groups and experience points. I do think good instructional design is needed. But I am still looking for a good instructional design model for creating game like environments.

    I like what Dr. Dawley and now Dr. Haskell are doing with 3D Games Lab. It could replace the LMS. Because we all love the LMS model!

    I'm also reading this by Lee Sheldon The Multiplayer Classroom. (While I was looking up the link I saw there is a facebook page so I think I'll see what discussion happens there too.)

    What other reflective questions should we be asking?

    Why is it a battle?

    That's where Dr. Dede (paraphrasing of course) "Unlearn to learn you must." It's new. It's not how you were taught to teach. It means redoing the curriculum.

    What are the barriers to widespread adoption of virtual worlds in education? 

    Teachers & Technical?

    But then and I see this on twitter ( I think from the GridJumper account) - Atlanta puts OpenSim in every classroom , hear Sharon Bowers' and the Virgina Beach School Districts in ActiveWorlds and then find out about the work Marlene Brooks is doing a Memorial University in Newfoundland.

    Will it always be a niche?

    Niche for now - but a growing niche? What does everyone else think?

  • Rurik Nackerud   March 19, 2012, 11:20 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Kae   March 19, 2012, 11:14 p.m.


    I purchased that as my post-conference and pre ISTE read - The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game, 1st Edition.

    We'll have to compare notes.

    Rurik Nackerud

  • Kae   March 19, 2012, 11:23 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jerry Buchko   March 19, 2012, 9:32 p.m.

    I read the article and I have one more ( almost secret) fear - what if teachers don't know how to do gamification well? What if all we see is PowerPoint jeopardy with badges and experience points?

  • Gridjumper   March 20, 2012, 12:30 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Kae   March 19, 2012, 11:23 p.m.

    That is a scary thought and unfortunately a realistic one.  With the formulaic ways of evaluating and quantifying we put teachers in this bind.  They need to perform for an administrator (their job now depends on this) and the administrator has a checklist and must see X number of elements to check off.  We sometimes take complex tasks and put checklists on them trying to make them easier to understand, inadvertenlty creating the checklist monster.

    Not that evaluation and accounatablility is a bad thing, obviously we need to measure effectiveness...i saw a quote atrributed to Einstein - something about counting what counts versus counting what does not count.  So - we need to identify what counts.

  • Kae   March 20, 2012, 1:46 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Rurik Nackerud   March 19, 2012, 11:20 p.m.

    I am assuming - we are still doing the pre-ISTE book club or something like that?

  • Jerry Buchko   March 20, 2012, 4:12 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Kae   March 19, 2012, 11:23 p.m.

    @Kae, You cracked me up a bit when you mentioned PowerPoint jeopardy with badges & experience points, because I think that's exactly what I'd expect to see in a corporate training setting! ;-)  

    I'm somewhat hopeful. I don't think there's anything about the principles of gamification (similar to the principles of behavioralism & operant conditioning) that can't be learned by most, given the right support & resources. So assuming that most teachers have the willingness and capacity to learn (and I assume they do) then I'd expect that most could become relatively decent at it over time.

    I would expect the more likely & significant obstacles to the success of this effort would end up being systemic, issues like the checklist metrics mentality as Gridrunner mentioned, or a bias towards starving the project of resources because of lack of organizational committment.

    ~ Jerry

  • alysyn   March 20, 2012, 12:47 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Gridjumper   March 19, 2012, 4:22 p.m.

    I was approached by one of the Associate Dean's where I work and he went to a marketing conference a few weeks ago.  They introduced the concept of "gamification" and he got excited to incorporate it in EVERYTHING!!!  

    Now I am given the task to "gamify" my advising course.  @Kae "yes a powerpoint jeopardy".

    However, being involved in MOOC, and breathing virtualness, I am not going to let anything I have my hands in be a game show on a simple screen for students to fall asleep or quit.  

    Has anyone come across any types of "free" or extremely inexpensive programs that can be used to turn a simple blackboard advising course into a gamified instructional tool?  

    I envision students logging into a program and using their avatar to do somewhat of a "scavenger hunt". Goig on quests that have xp assigned. Open the door at the end to a terribly grouchy monster that they have to conquer to get more xp (which is the definining quest that bridges them to another level).  

    As they level up through this course they receive "swag" and the ones who finish with the most xp will get a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prize (free tuition!).  Even it if is only 1 credit hour; or give them credit to the bookstore or "mega swag".

    Any thoughts?

    @gridjumper, I think the battle is that most educators are complacent and don't want to do more than what they already have done.  It's up to the administrative leadership to adopt and implement. Can you imagine what the would be like if people were as excited as we are!

  • Aevalle Galicia/Stasia Weston   March 20, 2012, 2:45 p.m.
    In Reply To:   alysyn   March 20, 2012, 12:47 p.m.

    @ alysyn  If you wanted to use SL as a base without having to get all "scripty", DoctorPartridge Allen has a game kit that can be used to construct all kinds of hunts (Virtually Human is his shop inworld, I think)--he did a presentation on it at VWBPE year before last, I believe.  Link to the product in the marketplace is .

    Also, Annie Obscure (who has done some AMAZING interactive lessons for the University of Houston sim) has a modular inworld learning system called Pathways.  The marketplace link for it is

    For either of these, if you click on the "see item inworld" link at the bottom of the page, you should be able to get to the place where they have the demos set up, so you can look them both over.

  • kimmer   March 20, 2012, 4:39 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Kae   March 20, 2012, 1:46 a.m.

    Speaking of book clubs...  Thirteen in NYC (of the PBS stations) is conducting a survey now on what people would like to see in a show about book clubs.  I would imagine the ISTE book club has not yet been represented in the survey data.   Thanks for considering.

  • Kae   March 21, 2012, 12:04 p.m.
    In Reply To:   kimmer   March 20, 2012, 4:39 p.m.

    Thanks for the link. The pre-ISTE keynote book club is currently in the development phase.

    I saw on the sruvey that it asked if you used twitter or Facebook  or if the book club was virtual. This book club actually came out of a conversation over ventrilio when a few of us were running dungeons in World of Warcraft. 

  • kimmer   March 23, 2012, 2:32 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Kae   March 21, 2012, 12:04 p.m.

    I hope more from this group will respond to the survey and include answers such as the dungeon brainstorm.  There is always talk about virtual worlds and currently some work with augmented reality gaming in production with the latest Ready to Learn project.   Always great for folks to remember communication occurs across many types of digital platforms! (and have that collected in surveys :) )

  • DelightfulDoowangle   March 24, 2012, 9:30 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Aevalle Galicia/Stasia Weston   March 20, 2012, 2:45 p.m.

    Great links and resources. Thanks Aevalle. I am thinking a lot about gamification vs. game design, vs. game mechanics all manifested in courses, programs, learning environments for casual/informal to serious/required uses. We actually built and are open sourcing a casual game application that is easy to use and author within and we are dealing with copyright, accessibility, and FERPA risks. It has a Jeopardy-like widget in it, which is seen as less evil than traditional course management system quizzes. Typically game-like components become part of courses and I see the potential of two game-changers (pun not intended).

    The data generated potentially informs learner and academic analytics, now in fashion, with a potential to inform metacognition. The second game-changer is when learners (including faculty, teachers, staff etc) create and share content in these systems to support their own learning. 

    I would love to figure out how to bridge and stitch immersive, 2d3d vw and gaming experiences together to paint the picture that could be so compelling as to challenge the current checkboxes of performance lists and required learning outcomes. I have much to learn about what is required by teachers and administrators for reporting needs, but I am supercharged about the potential of game-based/immersive learning. The vw and gaming tours and breadcrumbs left to show us the way if we cannot make the time are invaluable.