This was my third year attending the OpenSimulator Community Conference, which brings together a global group of developers, educators, and artists who are passionate about the open metaverse of OpenSim virtual worlds. It’s always inspiring to hang out in-world with old friends and to meet new ones, see presentations and hear about what others are doing with their colleagues, students, and friends in OpenSim virtual worlds.
Panel Discussion & Smackdown Redux
San Jose State University was well represented. In addition to my own short presentation, I participated on a panel discussion with my Community Virtual Library colleagues, Dr. Valerie Hill and Dr. Marie Vans, as we talked about our ongoing projects on the Kitely and Avacon grids. CVL also presented a redo of our Virtual Worlds vs Virtual Reality Smackdown debate, which was a real hit! (Pun intended!) I even built a boxing ring for the occasion. Val played moderator as before, but this time I was debating Marie, an iSchool alumna. Marie was embodied as a fantasy creature that well suited her passionate advocacy for virtual reality with head mounted displays. (She’s also a wee bit intimidating to debate. Marie is a senior research scientist at Hewlett Packard, and her current research area is virtual reality and education!) Undaunted, however, I chose to embody the very symbol of OpenSim, the Hippo. And don’t be fooled by the humble appearance, the hippo is actually the most dangerous animal on the African continent. So it’s a worthy symbol of open source virtual worlds. Of course, the OpenSim crowd cheered wildly for me when they saw me come out swinging!
Immersive Art OER Resources Presentation
My own presentation was about some new OER content I’d developed, initially as an idea for Dr. Eileen O’Connor, one of my virtual world colleagues. Eileen is the coordinator for SUNY Empire State College’s Masters of Arts Learning & Emerging Technology (MALET) Program. Eileen has been teaching in virtual worlds for a number of years, and I’ve attended events at Marian Island on Kitely. Marian Island is her OpenSim world where she introduces other faculty to virtual worlds, and it’s where she showcases the work of her students who’ve also built worlds on the Kitely grid. I had been inspired to create some content and tutorials to help any event organizer like her, (who certainly has their hands full!), to have an immersive activity that could teach a newer participant to learn how to create a simple piece of art they could share in the virtual environment. Of course then, it just made sense to share it with anyone in the community via a Creative Commons license. The more I do in the virtual world, the more I continue to develop expertise about how we can use these spaces in engaging and educational ways.
If you want to hear more about the content and tutorials I created, you can watch the video of my session Art Gallery Contribution: A Plug-n-Play OER Immersive Activity.