Once again this March, the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference (VWBPE for short) will take place in Second Life, running from March 23rd to 25th, 2023. According to the EventBrite description of the conference:
This year, we celebrate Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education’s 16th Annual International Conference on Education in Virtual and Augmented Reality. The main conference takes place March 23-25, 2023, with immersive experiences happening two weeks before and after the main event.
Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education is a global grassroots community event focusing on education in immersive virtual environments. This open conference is organized by the education community to provide an opportunity to showcase the learning that takes place using virtual and augmented environments. Educators and content creators alike are encouraged to attend, present, and take part in this discussion of collaborative deeper learning and co-presence in virtual worlds and games.
To the best ability possible, VWBPE provides educational and networking opportunities that are relevant to educational curriculum development utilizing virtual environments and “best practices”.
- helping to build community through extension of learning best practices to practical application of those ideas and techniques;
- providing networking opportunities for educators and the communities that help support education; and
- providing access to current innovations, trends, ideas, case studies, and other best practices for educators and the communities that help support education.
Over 1,200 people from 30 countries attended our last conference in March 2022. In just the past several years, over 200 hours of video footage has been captured and has been made available free to the academic community in addition to other video broadcasts, with thousands of views.
Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education is a meaningful way for presenters to share their research and experience about the rich learning systems in virtual worlds and games. This free online conference is produced entirely by volunteers.
According to their mission statement, taken from the VWBPE website:
This open conference is organized by the Second Life community to provide an opportunity to showcase the learning that takes place using virtual worlds. Everyone is encouraged to present, attend and take part in this discussion of collaborative deeper learning and co-presence in virtual worlds and games…
Over 2,000 attendees representing 90 countries participate in 150-200 online presentations including theoretical research, application of best practices, virtual world tours, hands-on workshops, discussion panels, machinima presentations, and poster exhibits. You do not have to be a formal academic to participate.
While the VWBPE conference proceedings are apparently published as the Journal of Virtual Studies published by Rockcliffe University Consortium, my Firefox web browser threw up a security warning when I tried to access the journal’s webpage:
Indeed, Rockcliffe University Consortium (a gold-level sponsor of VWBPE, and a primary organizer of the conference) is a “university” which, as far as I am aware, exists only within the virtual world of Second Life, as opposed to an accredited, real-world university. According to their website:
Rockcliffe is a registered non-profit C-Corp in the United States, however we are not a 501(c)3. Structurally, we are organized along the lines of a B-Corp. The organization is made up completely of volunteers. The entire organization is a collection of global SOHO [small office/home office] locations tied together through a common technical infrastructure that serves as a proxy for a brick and mortar location. While the majority of our volunteers are from the United States, Rockcliffe also [has] volunteers based in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.
While those who seek the reassurance of academic rigour and scholarly structure might turn up their noses at a self-proclaimed Second Life “university” with a glitchy journal website, I would remind you that the current organization also embraces those virtual world educators and researchers who might otherwise feel excluded from a professional, academic conference. And I can attest that I have attended some truly excellent presentations at previous VWBPE conferences over the past 15 years, such as this 2021 talk by Dr. Marie Vans about social VR.
So I would encourage you, who perhaps might never have heard of the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference before, to consider attending this year. The final conference agenda has not been published yet, but you can already register for free for VWBPE 2023 via EventBrite. VWBPE 2023 organizers are also looking for volunteers (more information and a volunteer sign-up form are here).
You can visit the VWBPE website for more information, and to learn how to register for a free Second Life account to attend (if you don’t already have one). And if you should need a little help getting your Second Life avatar looking presentable and fashionable while spending as few Linden dollars as possible, well, Auntie Ryan has got you covered. 😉
See you at VWBPE 2023!