🛠️ Tools, tools, and [more] tools!

As the summer winds down, I know many of you are in the midst of online course design for your fall classes. If you haven’t already, please check out eCampus for resources to assist in online pedagogy, course design and development, and instructional technologies. Here are three key resources I recommend.

SJSU Teach Online Canvas course
(access to the Canvas course content from the SJSU Teach Online Summer Certificate Program; Canvas log-in required to access materials)
Equity and Inclusion Frameworks in Design in Online Settings module
(strategies and resources for creating inclusive learning environments; this module is housed within the above referenced SJSU Teach Online Canvas course)
SJSU Canvas Course Template
(eCampus designed template that “prepares the recommended structure and elements for your online course and can be imported into your blank Canvas course”)

In this post, I share tools (as the title aptly states) for both productivity and teaching and learning.

Productivity Tools

Teaching and working from home while balancing personal responsibilities is beyond a juggling act. Here are a few tools to save you time, increase your productivity, and most importantly, maintain your sanity. 

Calendly – Create office hours appointments quickly and easily. No more back-and-forth in email to find a good time to schedule a meeting. With Calendly, you share your calendar, and meeting participants can pick a time based on your availability. This is a simple option to quickly and easily schedule standing office hours or individual appointments with students. 

Calendly + Zoom – What’s more, you can connect Zoom with Calendly to add video conferencing details to your virtual meetings. This integration allows for Zoom meeting details, confirmation notifications, and calendar events to be sent to meeting attendees once they schedule via Calendly. Time saver!

cloudHQ – This app boosts your Gmail productivity with 30+ free, easy-to-use Chrome extensions. Choose from a number of extensions such as Gmail Email Templates to quickly create aesthetically pleasing emails (think Welcome to the Course email!) or Free Video Email for Gmail to send a video message within Gmail (reply to a student’s email question with video to better explain a challenging concept).

Google Keep Notes – Sticky notes all over the place? Say goodbye to them and hello to a note-taking app. Keep Notes lets you quickly capture to-do’s, lists, photos, audio, etc. And, the app synchronizes across all your devices so that you can save that great idea on the go, wherever you are. And, you can even add location reminders to your Keep Notes – when you reach the preset destination, your reminder will pop up. In order to use the location reminder feature, location permissions on your phone are required. Nonetheless, with this feature, there’s no excuse to forget the milk next time you’re at the grocery store.

OneTab – Raise your hand if you have 10+ tabs open on each of your open 3+ windows/web browsers! 🙋🏾 If this is you too, OneTab is here to-the-rescue. Available for Chrome and Firefox web browsers, this tool reduces tab clutter and saves up to 95% memory by converting all of your open tabs into a list. You’re welcome.

Trello – Keep track of your research, course redesign, or personal endeavors with this project management tool that organizes via boards, lists, and cards. What’s more, you can collaborate with others by creating teams and integrate other apps such as Calendar, Google Drive, or Slack to boost your productivity.

Tech to Try: H5P

What is H5P?

H5P (short for “HTML5 Package”) is a web authoring tool used to develop interactive, engaging learning experiences. With this emerging tech tool, authors can create and edit rich interactive content such as videos, presentations, games, and more.

Why am I interested in H5P?

      • Ability to supplement publisher content and Canvas tools and features by developing my own, customized interactive learning activities
      • Promotes learner engagement and provides real-time feedback (and you can track it using the tool’s built-in analytics)
      • Several content types: interactive video, interactive slides, virtual tour, dictation, and games
      • Content types meet accessibility requirements
      • Free* and open source to create interactive content
      • Content can be embedded in Canvas**
      • No additional cost to students

*The free, open source version can be used to start and test the product but a hosting site such as WordPress is needed to actually implement created learning experiences for students.
**The free, open source version does not directly integrate with Canvas.

Key Features

      • Build interactive content quickly and easily 
      • Pre-made templates for different content types 
      • Integrates with most LMSs like Canvas (paid version) and has plug-ins for publishing systems such as WordPress (free, open source version)
      • 30+ content types
      • Experience API (xAPI)

Use 
As mentioned before, H5P has numerous content types falling under the categories of games, multimedia, questions, and social media. For example, as an alternative to the traditional static PPT, Course Presentations allows learners to “swipe through slides to experience the learning material, while solving various quizzes or watching videos along the way.” (H5P.org) And, with built-in analytics, instructors can view how learners are interacting with the presentation content and assess their performance level. 

Course Presentation Example from H5P.org click on the presentation for a demonstration

Source: https://h5p.org/presentation

Learn more about H5P


 

My hope is that the posts this past semester provided ways in which you can implement technology in the classroom. By no means is technology the star of the show. It is merely a tool to support and enhance teaching and learning whether that be in-person, hybrid, or fully online. 

Enjoy the rest of the summer and the time it brings to refresh and renew for the next academic year. 

Take good care of yourself and loved ones,

Nicole

💨 Going Beyond Text 💨 : Using Multimedia to Present Online Course Content

This semester marked a rapid transition to remote teaching…and we all made it through! As we prepare for the fall semester and online teaching and learning, I want to highlight eCampus’ Teach Anywhere website and Workshops that can support you during this process. eCampus, the Center for Faculty Development, and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are here to help.

This post continues with the UDL framework and its Multiple Means of Representation principle.

UDL Multiple Means of  Representation is the WHAT of learning and focuses on “the way information is presented to increase recognition and understanding.” (Israel, Ribuffo, and Smith, 2014) Students are diverse in both their learning needs and the ways in which they learn. Providing course materials and resources in different ways not only reduce barriers to access and learning but also help students reach course goals by enhancing the learning process. As with all the principles, CAST provides guidelines and checkpoints to facilitate the implementation of multiple means of representation in the classroom.

Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and comprehend information that is presented to them.” (UDL, 2018)

Determine Learning Objectives before Incorporating Multimedia

How you use varied formats and multimedia to present course content depends on your learning objectives. Multimedia – any combination of text, image, audio, video, animation, and simulation – provide alternative and varied means of presentation for course content in order to reach all learners and their different learning styles. Further, using multimedia reinforces studentcontent interaction and improves learning effectiveness. Before incorporating multimedia into your course, using Backward Design (Wiggins and McTighe, 2011) and Bloom’s Taxonomy ensures that content aligns with and supports learning goals and unit-level learning objectives.

In short, people learn better from words and pictures than from words alone. This statement summarizes what has been called the multimedia principle, which has become a fundamental principle of instructional design based on a growing body of research evidence.” (Mayer, 2019)

Utilize a Range of Formats and Multiple Media to Enhance Learning 

Student↔content interaction in the online environment is more than just reading an eBook or an article on the web, although this is still one format that should be incorporated in the course. There are so many tools that can be used to present content and information to learners in various ways. After determining what activity or assessment would best support the learning objective, brainstorm about different technologies and/or multimedia that could be implemented to create the learning experience.

Because students have unique learning styles, online courses should include activities and assessments that are varied to meet the learning styles of all students.” (NEA, 2014)

Present content with text+visuals, video, or even simulation. Each learning unit or module does not have to comprise all multimedia formats. Further, do not overwhelm students by using too many tools; choose one or two to start. But, be sure to provide both a variety and balance of multimedia to allow for different types of student interaction with content, activities, materials, and resources throughout the course. Below are some examples that enable instructors and students to access content and apply knowledge in a wide variety of ways. To find more multimedia resources, check out OER Commons and Merlot as well as your textbook publisher.

Video: Offer diverse and multiple perspectives by curating videos from the web. Seamlessly integrate videos in your course by embedding in a Canvas page, discussion, or assignment.
Tools: Embed Video into a Canvas Page; Canvas Studio.
Resources to curate videos: YouTube, Khan Academy, TEDEd. And check out the eLearning industry’s List of Educational Video Site Collections.
Narrated PPT Presentation: Amp up your text-based PPT by recording audio over them. “Chunk” course content into mini-lectures that cover key points and concepts. Each presentation should be no more than 10 minutes in duration!
Tools: PPT and Camtasia. Or alternatively, insert audio into Google Slides.
Podcast: Students can listen to lectures anywhere and multitask while doing so. Good for aural learners and those who need flexibility in accessing course content. Also, instructors can use podcasts to share their research or expertise with the wider community.
Tool: Enable a Podcast feed in Canvas
Resource: ELI discovery tool: Guide to podcasting.
Infographic: Visual aid used to organize and present information. Infographics can be instructor provided or student created.
Resource: Quality Matters’ Resource List for Infographics.
Video Discussion: Numerous ways to engage students with video and increase active learning. Students can submit video responses for Canvas discussions or even use Zoom for small group discussion activities.
Tools:  Canvas Discussion Video Submissions, Zoom Breakout Rooms, or FlipGrid.
Multimedia Collaborations: Use collaborative multimedia tools to build and foster the online learning community. Students can work in small groups to create and present content using text, audio, video conferencing, and other tech tools.
Tools: Group Spaces, Collaborations, or Conferences.

Present Content in a Consistent, Organized Structure

Incorporating multimedia can create an engaging and stimulating online course. Or, it can just be downright overwhelming if not properly designed and integrated into the course. Developing an organized, consistent online course structure guides the student’s online learning experience. And, an organized course structure eases the navigation and use of online tools and multimedia in order to minimize student frustration and confusion. Unit-level modules organized by topic or week help students’ awareness of all related multimedia activities and assignments and supports student responsibility and accountability in their learning process. 

Resources

Make Your Content Accessible 

Keep all learners and their diverse needs in mind as you design and facilitate your course. Ensure that any formats and multimedia you use are compatible with assistive technology, images are described using alt text, and videos have closed captions. Using campus licensed technologies is beneficial because not only will you receive prompt technical assistance if needed (as technical issues can and will arise!), but also these technologies are already vetted to meet accessibility requirements. Lastly, be sure to provide accessibility documentation for all technologies used in your course. 

Resources

Provide Tutorials and Tech Support Contact Information

Today’s students are “digital natives” and heavy consumers of tech products and services, e.g., social media, online shopping, etc. However, most are not familiar with or well-versed in educational and instructional technologies; they’re learning right along with us. As such, provide guides and tutorials for course technologies and multimedia. And, clearly provide contact information and direct students to the appropriate tech support whether that be eCampus for Canvas and other instructional technologies or the textbook publisher for its online content. In addition, students may need general IT support for their device (laptop or tablet) and/or software used to access multimedia; SJSU IT support can help in this case. This information can be housed in a “Start Here” module under a Course Technologies and Support page; see the SJSU Canvas Course Template referenced prior for an example.

Resources

 

 


References
CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org
eCampus, San Jose State University. (2020). eCampus. Retrieved from https://www.sjsu.edu/ecampus
Israel, M., Ribuffo, C., & Smith, S. (2014). Universal Design for Learning innovation configuration: Recommendations for teacher preparation and professional development (Document No. IC-7). Retrieved from University of Florida, Collaboration for Effective Educator, Development, Accountability, and Reform Center website: http://ceedar. education.ufl.edu/tools/innovation-configurations.
La, H., Dyjur, P., & Bair, H. (2018). Universal design for learning in higher education. Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. Calgary: University of Calgary.
Mayer, R. E. (2019). How multimedia can improve learning and instruction. In J. Dunlosky & K. A. Rawson (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of cognition and education (p. 460–479). Cambridge University Press.
National Education Association. (2014). Guide to teaching online courses. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/onlineteachguide.pdf.
Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2011). The understanding by design guide to creating high-quality units. ASCD.
Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (1998). Backward Design. In Understanding by Design (pp. 13-34). ASCD.

📝 + 💻 Online Exam: ONE type of high-stakes assessment

With the end of the semester fast approaching, high-stakes assessments are top-of-mind for both faculty and students alike. And, given the current switch to remote and online teaching, instructors may be wondering whether they can convert their in-person paper final exam to an online format or even considering another assessment type altogether. The third principle of Universal Design for Learning, Action and Expression, recommends that instructors offer assessment options for students to show and demonstrate their understanding of course content (UDL on Campus). A collaborative group project, portfolio, video submission, or paper are just a few examples of summative assessments in which students can express what they know. Based on course goals and learning objectives, an online exam is another appropriate assessment, especially if varied assessment types have been used throughout the course. 

There are various tools that can be used to set up, administer, and proctor online exams. However, it is best to use campus licensed and supported tools to not only receive prompt tech support and training but also to have the assurance that these tools are already vetted by campus instructional designers. Before delving into specific tools, below are some general suggestions and best practices to implement for high-stakes online exams.

        • Offer students a window of opportunity to take the exam, e.g., 24 or 48 hours
        • Give students an ungraded practice exam so that they can try out the technology used beforehand and adjust to the online testing environment
        • Consider decreasing the weighted grade category for high-stakes online exams, e.g., reduce from 20% of total grade to 15%
        • Vary exam question types
        • Reduce the length of time allotted to take the exam 
        • Provide student guides, tutorials, and privacy & security documents for online exam technologies used (available on the SJSU eCampus website or from the company directly)
        • Increase instructor availability; instructors should be readily accessible by phone and email during exam session times
        • Create a backup plan for students who have access challenges and encounter extenuating circumstances (no stable internet, laptop/computer not working, software issues, etc.) when attempting to take the online exam

Canvas Quizzes, Respondus Monitor, and ProctorU, all SJSU eCampus vetted and licensed tools, can be used in combination to create and monitor online exams. And, with Canvas Quizzes, instructors can vary question types to offer students multiple ways to show their understanding of course content.

Exam Creation Tool – Canvas Quizzes

Canvas is the learning management system (LMS) for SJSU. Canvas has many features and its Quizzes function can be used to create online exams and set additional exam security functions. The below instructions and images are from the Canvas LMS Community Commons.
Key features to enable when setting up Canvas Quiz Details:

        • Quiz Type – Graded
        • Time limit
        • Uncheck the box for “Let Students See Their Quiz Responses”
        • Set Quiz Restriction – Require an access code
        • Quiz Availability Range

Choose Quiz Details to set quiz type as graded

Name Exam
1. Enter a short description of the exam and you can also include an honor code statement.
2. Select Graded Quiz as quiz type
3. Select the assignment group for the exam, e.g., Exam 1. (Set up weighted grade categories based on assignment groups in Canvas.)


Set Quiz Options
for exam time limit and other security options

1. Shuffle question answers – Do not use this option if there are question answer options with “A and D” or “all of the above” since shuffling answers will not keep this sequence
2. Implement a “tight” time limit for the exam
4. Uncheck the box for “Let Students See Their Quiz Responses”
6. Uncheck the box for “Let Students See The Correct Answers”
7. Optional: Check the box for “Show one question at a time”


Set Quiz Restrictions
to require a student access code in order to take the exam

 

1. When using an online proctoring service such as ProctorU, the “live” proctor will enter the given access code for the student.
If using Respondus Monitor, send out the access code to students right before the exam availability starts. Or alternatively, use the “Lock This Quiz” feature (see below).


Assign Quiz Dates
to set exam availability range

1. Assign Exam to everyone – If assigning the exam to one student or certain students with a different due date or availability range, click “+Add”, enter the student’s name, and set parameters for that student.
2. Due date – date and time when the exam is due
Exam availability range
3. Available from – date and time when the exam is available to students to take
4. Until – end date and time when students can no longer take the exam


Save the Quiz

Save the Quiz periodically throughout the editing process.

Do not click on “Save & Publish” until all edits, including exam questions, are finalized. And, for added security, wait until a few days before the exam time before publishing.


Publish the Quiz

1. When ready to publish the Quiz, select “Publish”
6. Ability to lock or unlock the quiz. When the quiz is published, if “Lock this quiz now” is selected, then students can see the title of the quiz but will not be able to access it.
Use this option for Respondus Monitor. Then, right before the exam availability date, unlock the quiz so that students can access it.
In the end, remember to publish the quiz.

Canvas Quiz Question Options
Now that Quiz Details have been set up, create the exam questions.

There are various question types in Canvas quizzes. Instructors can build questions from scratch and/or use questions from an outside source such as a publisher test bank. Canvas has the following question types and options:

And, there is a feature to use question groups to randomize quiz questions for each student.

Canvas Quiz Accommodations
Once the Quiz is published, the “Moderate This Quiz” feature allows for extended time testing accommodations or even multiple attempts to take the exam.

Online Proctoring Tools – Respondus and ProctorU

There is no foolproof method to prevent cheating, even for in-person proctored exams. But the following online proctoring tools, coupled with Canvas Quiz security features and exam administration best practices, can be implemented to mitigate most academic integrity concerns. Note that online proctoring requires that students have stable internet connectivity and a computer/laptop with a webcam and microphone.

Respondus
Respondus has two products – LockDown Browser and Monitor. Lockdown Browser can be used alone or accompanied with Monitor. Do not use Lockdown Browser alone unless it is a well-timed, essay response exam type. With LockDown Browser, students are “unable to print, copy, go to another URL, or access other applications” on their laptop or computer while taking the exam, hence “lockdown.” But, it does not prevent students from using other aids such as cellphones, textbooks, handwritten notes, peer sitting next to them, etc. Respondus Monitor, the companion product to Lockdown Browser, conducts a pre-exam “environment check” via webcam and records the student’s exam session. This added feature minimizes most of the security issues found with using LockDown Browser alone. 

To learn more:

ProctorU
ProctorU Live+ is considered one of the “most secure options for online exams.” With this online proctoring tool, a live person monitors the student’s exam session via webcam and microphone and can intervene in real-time. In addition to live monitoring, there is an exam precheck that includes student ID verification and, if applicable, post-exam incident reporting. Here’s the ProctorU Live+ student walkthrough video to get a better idea of the online test-taking environment and process from the student perspective.

To learn more:

 


References
CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org
Live+ Online Proctoring Backed by Artificial Intelligence. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.proctoru.com/services/live-online-proctoring
Respondus Monitor. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://web.respondus.com/he/monitor/
UDL On Campus: UDL and Assessment. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://udloncampus.cast.org/page/assessment_udl
What options can I set in a quiz? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-26470-what-options-can-i-set-in-a-quiz

A Stellar Conference in a Virtual World

I wanted to follow up on my last post about attending the 13th annual Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference, which was indeed STELLAR! From Dr. L. Rob Furman and two other opening keynote speakers, presentations spanning three days, the Creatures of Myth scavenger hunt game (and the 10 other pre and post conference immersive events like Embrace the Suck: Classic World of Warcraft and my own Friends of the Library Selfie Portraits Activity), to my friend Renne Emiko Brock deservedly winning this year’s Thinkerer Award, the conference was a whirlwind of intergalactic adventure! I created a mock up the Community Virtual Library’s Hypergrid Resource centers in OpenSim for the exibit area, and I had a lot of fun creating that little 45 second welcome video for it above. CVL’s space station and hypergrid portals in OpenSim tied in nicely with this year’s theme. In a nutshell, this conference is a great example of what a global educational immersive event can and should be. 

Here’s a picture of my tiny cat avatar dancing with Renne/Zinnia at one of the social events after her receiving the Thinkerer Award.

Bethany and Renne Dancing

Bethany and Renne Dancing at the David Bowie tribute concert social event.

This year I was also a volunteer (as well as presenter), which added another level of experience for me. I’m already planning to volunteer next year, and I’m working on a more elaborate immersive event. It’s so inspiring to see what others have done, and I’m still trying to catch up in terms of my own skills! Several more experienced volunteers said they thought there were more newbies this year than in the past, (about 3500 people are involved with this event each year), probably because interest in virtual environments is having a moment. This is not unexpected given the global pandemic. So I enjoyed being able to help people who were brand new get acclimated to the environment, I gave out landmarks and teleports, and we chatted about this event and other educators I know and their simulations. Of course I also had a great time catching up with other virtual world colleagues I’ve met before at this conference. 

An International Community of Immersive Educators

It’s always exciting to be part of an international event, with participants from all over the world. I was part of three presentations. My CVL and VCARA colleagues and I have been actively exploring social VR platforms with head-mounted display, despite the fact that most of us prefer virtual world platforms (aka Desktop VR). CVL Director Dr. Valerie Hill and I presented on the topic of Intentional Immersion. She and I have, (and continue), to meet using Oculus Rift in different social VR settings to play around and explore features,and to compare notes on our experiences and technical difficulties. How else can we possible keep up with so many different platforms that are currently competing for our adoption in education?

San Jose State University Colleagues

presentation area in space

One of the presentation areas at the conference.

The presentation probably of most interest to other educators, however, was our panel with VCARA colleagues “Survey Says! Developing Criteria for VR Courses”. Val and I joined SJSU iSchool’s Dr. Pat Franks, and VCARA alums Dr. Marie Vans and Alyse Dunavant-Jones. I spoke about about the survey responses about wanting to use VR in the classroom vs as the classroom.Watching a video of a virtual event is nothing like experiencing it for yourself, so let me just give you my big takeaway.   (I’m speaking from 46 minutes in for the last 10 minutes.) When it comes to immersive technology for education, the criteria educators determined were the most essential are met already in ALL ways with desktop VR, with one single exception. That exception is that we don’t currently have a way for head-mounted display interaction with those on a desktop. But in ALL other respects, desktop VR like Second Life and OpenSim has everything else educators have told us they need. So if you’re interested in immersive teaching and learning, I have two questions for you.  Are you in-world yet? If not – why not?!

There’s No Contagion in the Virtual World!

Bethany's Tiny Cat Avatar with Gas Mask & Goggles

Bethany’s Tiny Cat Avatar with Gas Mask & Goggles

eCampus has been especially busy recently, with multiple inquiries coming in about options for remote teaching with technology. Those of us who are young and healthy might not be particularly worried about the escalation of COVID-19 in the US, but for those of us with elderly parents or friends with compromised immune systems, we certainly are worried about contracting this and passing it along. Now is an ideal time to plan for the very real possibility we may need to self-quarantine, or that our students might need to do so. 

This disruption is also not just affecting teaching and learning in the classroom. One of my eCampus colleagues flew out of town for an ed tech conference last weekend that was cancelled upon arrival. Dealing with this sort of thing is inconvenient or even scary, but the truth is it need not disrupt our education or conferences. We have long had all the tools we need, but we’ve just not been in a position where we really had to use them. Obviously there’s no time like the present to start taking a serious look at the many underutilized tools we have that can help us connect digitally. And that includes virtual environments. 

Coincidentally, I’m scheduled to present at the Online Learning Consortium conference at the end of this month. It hasn’t been cancelled….(yet?). And ionically I’m presenting on Purposeful Tinkering: Experiential Preparation & Networking In Virtual Worlds For VR-Ready Educators. So I’m going to a physical world conference where I’ll be talking about my ongoing virtual collaborations with global colleagues using desktop VR. At these physical events I’ve often mentioned cost, accessibility, engagement, and environmental factors as just a few of the good reasons we should all be advocating for the wider adoption of virtual worlds for meetings, teaching, and conferences. It had never occurred to me until now to add pandemics and social distancing to the list. Yet here we are. 

So I’m scheduled to present on this topic at a  physical world conference that likely has no good plan to host it any other way if it gets canceled. Even more inronically, however, I’ll be presenting in-world in two weeks time at the 13th annual Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education, which of course will not get cancelled because it’s (gasp!) held in a virtual environment!  And let me be entirely clear what I mean when I say a virtual conference, because I’m certainly not talking about a live streamed webcast. That’s a very poor substitute and not interactive at all. Have you ever attended such a thing, only to actually spend most of the time on a second screen?  So tell me how good a virtual conference is, when you can walk away from it and nobody even knows you’re missing?!

A conference in a virtual world, however, is totally different. If you take your headset off while sitting at your computer, you better set your status on your avatar as “away”. Otherwise people might actually talk and chat at you and think you’re just being rude by not responding. They assume you are on the other end because you are literally present in the digital environment represented by your avatar. In a virtual conference, when a presenter takes questions from the audience, everyone can see who you are, everyone can hear you speak, everyone can see your questions and comments when you post them in chat. It’s incredible interactive. If the group is exploring someone’s exhibit and you don’t keep up as people walk or fly around the corner, the audio actually drifts away. If you don’t keep up, you won’t be able to hear them. If you don’t participate actively, you actually miss out. You don’t really have an option to be passive. So a virtual conference is a lot like a physical one. (Well, except for the flying part!….And the part about being able to log in from anywhere in the world while in your pajamas, and that your avatar can represent any aspect of your personality that you want, etc., etc.)

So I have little tolerance for crappy “virtual” events that are non-immersive and non-interactive. If you want to experience a real virtual conference, now is your chance to attend one of the very best! The 13th annual Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education  starts in two weeks and it’s free! You can meet some really innovative educators from around the world who regularly meet up in-world with their students and other educators to promote teaching and learning and global citizenship. If you want to attend, I can teach everything you need to know in less than an hour. We can do this in-person or via Zoom. I think it will blow your mind, and spoil you for what more conferences should be. 

I’m also excited to be presenting again at VWBPE this year. I have an immersive event on March 15th, I’ve also built an exhibit for the Stellar space theme which ties in nicely with what I’ve build in OpenSim, and I’m also on a panel discussion with my iSchool VCARA and CVL colleagues. The panel discussion is about the findings of a survey conducted late last year. We wanted to know what educators thought were the most important features needed for the educational use of VR platforms. (By the way, SJSU’s School of Information recently posted an interview with me about my work with them in virtual worlds for their Community Profiles page.) Like many of my colleagues that have used virtual worlds for years, and who are also actively exploring social VR platforms with head-mounted displays, I too have some opinions on the topic. All of us have valuable insights to share about what features we think are needed for education, and how different VR platforms stack up with what we’ve been using for the last 16 years with desktop VR. In fact, I made a video of an in-world presentation on this topic for a colleague at SUNY Empire State College. It’s for her student educators in one of her classes. My presentation is titled Beyond the Hype of Head Mounted Display (HMD) Virtual Reality.

So that’s my update. There’s no contagion in the virtual world, so come join us! Contact me if you have any questions! I’m happy to help your or your students get in-world. eCampus has computers with the Firestorm viewer already installed, so you or your students can access Second Life or OpenSim. And if you want to learn more before reaching out to me, check out my Canvas course, VW101: Burning Man in Cyberspace. You’ll find links to more information about some of the educators I know, many of whom I expect will be presenting this year at the conference.