I was lucky enough to get to spend last week in Portugal attending the Immersive Learning Network's annual conference in Coimbra, Portugal. I delivered both a paper on Fieldscapes, and a couple of hands-on demos of the system - and I'm proud to say that Fieldscapes won best demo!
If you search Twitter for #iLRN2017 then you'll get a pretty good feel of the conference and I tweeted out most of my highlights, but here's a few key takeaways.
iLRN looks to be establishing itself as the "go to" place for research into immersive learning environments, which includes 3D, VR, AR, MR etc (in fact one of the calls at the end of the conference was to have a decent definition of immersive learning!). They've also identified a trivium (we were in an old University!) of base subjects (computer science, game science, pedagogic science), and a quadrivium for higher study (multiple perspectives, NPIRL, situtaion/context, transfer).
We working up our own "guide to Immersive Learning", but it certainly looks like iLRN will be a key reference point and we're keen to get involved in the annual horizon scan and gap analysis their keen to do.
I've not seen this much OpenSim in years! Seems like every other presentation was talking about research using it. What it does highlight is that there is still a lot off valid 3D immersive research going on and people haven't all jumped on the VR bandwagon. OpenSim is I think primarily used because it is a) open, b) cheap/free and c) easy to use (c.f. Unity3D). But there is a recognition that the visual quality (at least to the standard shown here ) is now falling below what people find acceptable. Talking to people at the Fieldscapes demos there may be a real opportunity for us wit Fieldscapes here as we are a) cheap, b) easy (easier?) to use c) higher graphic quality. We're not open, but we have had elements of PIVOTE as open source in the past and are certainly keen to talk about opening the PIVOTE standard, and maybe even the PIVOTE engine.
3D and VR
In relation to the OpenSim/VR issue there was one interesting paper that showed that the differences in learning from 3D and VR were not actually that great - and in some cases the move to VR reduced it! We'd love to do some more solid research in this area.
Some other papers and demos that caught my eye:
- Using Kinect as a presentation trainer - capturing your body movements and audio levels and commenting as you go!
- Using Unity3D to create a visual memory palace in 3D/VR
- A good longitudinal study in the use of MiRTLE (blast from the past) for delivering immersive classrooms
- Leonel and his team developing an ontology for immersive learning authoring - will be interesting to see what links there are with Fieldscapes
- Using AR posters around the classroom walls for the kids to trigger content - especially languages. The speakers whole house is AR'd!
- Great use of www.menti.com by Hanan (see below) for audience participation
- A nice scottish Empire exhibition, build and use of VSim with primary kids
- Nice Communicate! authoring tool for dialog based trainers
- On the down side, far too much use of 3rd party promo videos in some keynotes
Elements of the conference were certainly like an SL/OpenSim meet up from the late noughties. In particular it was great to meet VRider/Hanan (centre) face to face having known and worked with him in SL for over 8 years or so!
Overall the event is certainly worth going to again. Montana in 2018 may be a bit off a long haul but London in 2019 won't! My recommendations for an even better event:
- More discussion, less presentations (perhaps have far more posters instead).
- Look at using techniques such as Delphic Oracle and Fish-bowl which worked so well at OU's ReLive conference on Immersive Learning
- Use immersive technologies to let people attend and participate remotely
- Ditto between conferences to broaden out SIG and local meetings - and more of those?
- More use of menti.com and similar
Overall, a great week, top'd and tial'd by trips to Bussaco and Porto, and a lot to reflect on, some of which will make its way into later posts and writings.