Even with the snagginess of my cable connection, I have to say I enjoyed the first day presentations at the Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds. I did learn that I have a lot more to learn. But that’s a good thing!
I’ve already written about the first keynote address, so I won’t go over that again here.
The first panel discussion of Chris Moore of the City of Edmonton, Claus Nehmzow of the 3D Avatar School in Hong Kong, and Mandy Salomon of Swinburne University. I didn’t get to hear as much of their presentation as I’d have liked because Cable One chose to keep glitching. That said, Mr. Moore’s idea that fear drives lack of innovation in government rings true to me–that if it fails, they’ll waste money. However, turning that idea on it’s head, he said that cutting budgets actually will force innovation to happen as committees and teams have to figure out ways to get things done with fewer finances.
After lunch, Mk Haley of Carnegie Mellon University presented “Innovation in Virtual Worlds. And Then Back Out into Our Own” showcasing some of the virtual worlds her students had developed given certain parameters (for example, no first-person shooters or porn “because they’ve been done to death”). It’s hard to fathom students creating 100+ virtual environments in a given semester and I’d love to know what platforms were being used, so I could play around and see what their potentials might be. Major points–innovation sometimes feels like it’s breaking the rules and innovation may not be about coming up with new things but combining previously unrelated things. Haley also played the Marshmallow Challenge TED talk video–http://marshmallowchallenge.com/TED_Talk.html . One of the oddest bits of this conference so far, however, occurred during Haley’s presentation when another presenter chose to heckle her from the audience, using Twitter. I have to admit, I’ve seen swipes taken at people on the stage of conferences via the question and answer session, but a fellow presenter doing it was a first for me and I found it pretty unprofessional (but maybe I’m simply too new at this).
The next panel covered the topic “You Can’t Get There From Here: An Ecosystem Approach to Designing in Virtual Worlds” and included:
- Ian Hughes, CEO, Feeding Edge
- Jay Iorio, IEEE Standards,Virtual Worlds
- Claudia L’Amoreaux, Learning Technologies Strategist, Community Developer
- Ren Reynolds, Founder: the Virtual Policy Network, HMG Digital Policy
- Michael Steele, Duke University, Project Manager, Healthcare Simulation
- Michelle Roper Fox, Chief Strategist, Education and Training at U.S. Department of Energy
The main discussions of this panel seemed to come down to security issues and connectivity across grids. As gathered from the audience discussion (in SL and Twitter), both of these issues have been discussed and debated for ages and there still doesn’t seem to be any clear cut ideas on how to resolve them. I was actually taken aback by something one of the real world audience members said to the panel. A Marine (didn’t get his name) stated that he thought that collaborative learning in the virtual environment posed a security risk because people get in and start training and learning and they may learn things they’re not meant to learn which, to him, was a dangerous prospect. While I guess I can understand the concern, I think it still goes to show just how powerful a collaborative tool virtual worlds might be–if the scaffolding for learning can grow to actually push the participants ahead of what they’re supposed to know for their particular assigned role, that’s really powerful stuff.
I think, personally, my favorite panel of the day was the final one–specifically because I’d gotten a bit of prior experience with most of the projects mentioned so the descriptions and stories built upon prior knowledge. The Kansas to Cairo Project, Edge, Moses, and the T2 PTSD Experience were all discussed (and I hope I’m not leaving anything out, but I may be).
Tomorrow’s presentations start off bright and early at 8 am est (that’s 7 am central and 5 am slt). Chris Dede’s doing tomorrow morning’s keynote and I can’t wait!
See you inworld!