11 May 2007

The Eduserv Foundation Conference 2007



Virtual worlds, real learning?
I couldn't be in London today (Thursday 10th May) so I attended the conference 'virtually' from inside Second Life. I searched, teleported in, picked up a goodie bag, found a seat, and enjoyed most of the presentations from a satellite site at Cybrary City.

There was very smooth video and audio streaming from my modest wireless lap top link. I even got to ask a couple of questions of the speakers, which were relayed by the session chairs. I was really surprised at how well this conference went. I'm an Associate Editor for conferences for the British Psychology Society's publication 'The Psychologist', so have been to a few conferences in my time. I even got to make some useful contacts and recruit some participants for research.


Speakers included representatives from Birkbeck, Open University, Edinburgh University, Leicester University, Nature Journal, IBM, and Linden Lab amongst others. The overall theme was 'Virtual worlds, real learning?' where they

tried to evaluate whether multi-user virtual learning environments such as Second Life offer real opportunities for learners at UK educational institutions. The feel from the conference was overall positive but reticent of the hype that has surrounded SL. For me, the star of the show for me was Professor Gilly Salmon of Leicester University who was clear and 'to the point' and noted that the interesting thing to debate is not WHEN academia will embrace 3D virtual platforms for enhancing the student learning experience but HOW this will happen.

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