The Educators in VR 2020 International Summit, February 17th-22nd, 2020, in AltspaceVR, ENGAGE, Rumii, and Other Social VR Platforms

This morning, I decided to submit an application to be a speaker about applications of social VR to libraries at the upcoming Educators in VR 2020 International Summit, which will run from February 17th to 22nd, 2020. Wish me luck! I’m crossing my fingers that my proposed talk will be accepted!

Instead of a physical real-world location, the entire conference will take place on various social VR platforms, including:

AltspaceVR is actually a pretty good choice as a platform for this conference, since it is pretty much accessible to almost everybody, including flatscreen PC users (although I still object to the cartoony avatars from a purely aesthetic standpoint 😉 …).

Picture taken at the first Educators in VR meetup in AltspaceVR, October 2018

Here’s a brief description of the summit, taken from their website:

The 2020 Educators in VR International Summit is a free, open-to-the public, virtual event lasting 6 days (over 80 round-the-clock hours) with a diverse range of speakers and presentations covering:

• The Basics of VR/AR/XR/MR
Research into Spatial Technologies in Education
Corporate Uses for Training and Education
Language Arts Training, Education, and as a Classroom
Coaching and Personal Development
Medical and Science
Computer Science and Math
Student Maker/Creator Projects, Collaborations, and Apps
Virtual Applications and Hardware for the Classroom

And so much more. We have topics under consideration covering the use of social media with virtual reality, education in religion and virtual worlds, world building, VR/AR app development, social and educational VR platforms, and open discussions with some of the world’s foremost experts in education and integrating extended reality.

The Educators in VR group that is putting on this event is an open, international, cross-platform community of educators, researchers, and trainers exploring and collaborating with and in virtual and augmented reality. They host weekly meetups in AltspaceVR on Tuesdays. They also have an active Discord server (here’s the invite link to join if you are interested). They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Even if I am not accepted as a speaker or panelist at the summit, I do plan to attend as much as I can of this event! The best part is, I don’t have to spend any money on conference fees, or buy a plane ticket to fly anywhere! (Trying to fit my tired, old, fat ass into economy airline seating for several hours at a stretch is no longer my idea of a fun time.)

If you wish to submit a proposal yourself to present at the conference, here is the link (the deadline is December 30th, 2019). The summit is also looking for volunteers; here is the link to apply if you want to help out.

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The ENGAGE Educational Social VR Platform Has Been Selected for the Oculus Independent Software Vendors Program

The company’s website

ENGAGE, a social VR platform for education, has been selected by Facebook to be a part of its Oculus Independent Software Vendors (ISV) program, according to a recent article published in VRFocus:

VR Education Holdings, the group best known for the Apollo 11 VR and the Titanic VR experiences also released a  proprietary virtual reality (VR) education platform at the end of 2018 called ENGAGEToday, the company has announced that the platform has been selected by Facebook for its Oculus Independent Software Vendors (ISV) programme.

Working with enterprise developers and software companies, the Oculus ISV programme looks to accelerate customer adoption of VR solutions built for Oculus enterprise products. In conjunction with Oculus for Business, during 2020 VR Education Holdings expects to make ENGAGE available to Oculus enterprise clients via a special portal, accessing its specialised training and education solutions.

When I recorded my Metaverse Newscast interview with Chris Madsen, I confirmed with him that the ENGAGE is already a profitable platform. But to be part of the Oculus ISV program means even more opportunities to partner with various companies looking for training solutions in VR! Congratulations to the company behind ENGAGE, VR Education Holdings!

(You might be wondering when that episode is going to be released. Unfortunately, my producer and main video editor, Andrew William, is currently very busy with real-life work. We do hope to release the interview sometime before the end of this year. Sorry for the delay!)

A Sneak Peek at an Upcoming Episode of the Metaverse Newscast: the Engage Educational VR Platform

The Metaverse Newscast is branching out! All eight of the episodes that my producer, Andrew William of Imagine That Productions, and I have released so far have been set in either High Fidelity or Linden Lab’s Sansar. But we have decided to start covering other platforms as well.

Last Saturday Andrew and I, plus our new lead editor Joey Jonaitis, spent well over two hours recording footage in Engage, an innovative educational VR platform. I interviewed Chris Madsen, who is in charge of Business Development at Immersive VR Education (the parent company of Engage) in various experiences on the platform, including a hospital in Kenya and even the surface of Mars!

One of the many amazing features of Engage is the ability to record three-dimensional video, which can then be played back and viewed from any angle! Chris, Andrew, and Joey shot a lot of 3D footage (as well as regular, “flat” footage) which will be used in the creation of this episode. Andrew and I are grateful that we have Joey’s experience with video editing as part of our team!

Here’s a shot of Chris and I that Andrew took in a recreation of a reading room at the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford within Engage (the face on Chris’ avatar was generated using a single front profile photograph, another cool feature of Engage):

Chris Madsen and Ryan Schultz in ENGAGE (from Andrew’s blog)

Here’s a sneak peek at a segment that will form part of the final episode:

We don’t have a release date yet, and there are several other Metaverse Newscast episodes that are still in production, which will probably be released before this one. After spending 2 to 3 hours in VR headsets, we were all exhausted, and when I was done, I was covered in sweat! But it will be a great episode!

Here’s a link to all the past episodes of the Metaverse Newscast on YouTube.

Chris Madsen Gives Me a Guided Tour of the Engage Social VR Platform

Yesterday, Chris Madsen, who works in business development at Immersive VR Education (the creators of the Engage social VR platform), gave me and Andrew a personal guided tour of Engage. Among other experiences, we visited the surface of Mars, and took a look at an interactive model of the Mars Curiosity rover:

Engage 3 16 July 2018.png

We also visited a talk show set:

Engage 2 16 July 2018.png

And we wrapped it up at a virtual recreation of the Neolithic henge monument at Avebury in England:

Engage 16 July 2018.png

The Curiosity experience included a look at how the rover landed on the Mars surface; it was amazing to watch the entire procedure unfold!

Chris has some pretty great stories to tell about the early days of social VR development from five years ago, so I hope to interview him this fall for my Metaverse Newscast show. Thanks to my producer Andrew to taking these pictures using the Snapshot feature in Engage!