Call for Papers and Proposals: The 7th International Conference of the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN 2021), Taking Place in VirBELA from May 17th to June 10th, 2021

I recently received the following email, containing details on the next iLRN conference, which will take place in the virtual world of VirBELA:


The 7th International Conference of the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN 2021) will be an innovative and interactive virtual gathering for a strengthening global network of researchers and practitioners collaborating to develop the scientific, technical, and applied potential of immersive learning. It is the premier scholarly event focusing on advances in the use of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and other extended reality (XR) technologies to support learners across the full span of learning—from K-12 through higher education to work-based, informal, and lifelong learning contexts. 

Following the success of iLRN 2020, our first fully online and in-VR conference, this year’s conference will once again be based on the iLRN Virtual Campus, powered by VirBELA, but with a range of activities taking place on various other XR simulation, gaming, and other platforms. Scholars and professionals working from informal and formal education settings as well as those representing diverse industry sectors are invited to participate in the conference, where they may share their research findings, experiences, and insights; network and establish partnerships to envision and shape the future of XR and immersive technologies for learning; and contribute to the emerging scholarly knowledge base on how these technologies can be used to create experiences that educate, engage, and excite learners.

Note: The 2020 iLRN conference drew over 3,600 attendees from across the globe, making the scheduling of sessions a challenge. In 2021, conference activities will be spread over a four-week period so as to give attendees more opportunities to participate at times that are conducive to their local time zones.

Papers and proposals may be submitted to one of 10 program tracks, the first nine of which correspond to the iLRN Houses of application, and the tenth of which is intended for papers making knowledge contributions to the learning sciences, computer science, and/or game studies that are not linked to any particular application area:

  1. Assessment and Evaluation (A&E)
  2. Early Childhood Development & Learning (ECDL)
  3. Galleries, Libraries, Archives, & Museums (GLAM)
  4. Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, & Social Justice (IDEAS)
  5. K-12 STEM Education
  6. Language, Culture, & Heritage (LCH)
  7. Medical & Healthcare Education (MHE)
  8. Nature & Environmental Sciences (NES)
  9. Workforce Development & Industry Training (WDIT)
  10. Basic Research and Theory in Immersive Learning (not linked to any particular application area)

For further information, please refer to the digital flyer or the iLRN website.

Inquiries regarding the iLRN 2021 conference should be directed to the Conference Secretariat at conference@immersivelrn.org. General inquiries about iLRN may be sent to info@immersivelrn.org

The iLRN 2020 conference was amazing, and I hope to see you at iLRN 2021!

Send In the Cons: RecCon in Rec Room and VRCon in VRChat

Yes, the title is a dreadful pun; this is the best I could do at 3:00 a.m. (I am suffering from insomnia yet again).

Most real-world cons (fan conventions), such as Comic Con pictured here, have been cancelled due to the pandemic, but both VRChat and Rec Room are hosting virtual cons!

I have news of not one, but two different virtual cons (short for fan conventions) taking place in two of the most popular social VR platforms, Rec Room and VRChat.

Let’s start with the one that is happening first: RecCon.

RecCon is a free community event in Rec Room where players from all around the world will meet up for various activities, Q&As, exhibit halls, and panels. There will be five exhibit halls at the con:

  • Artist Alley Expo Hall
  • Portfolio Expo Hall
  • Classes Expo Hall
  • Inventors Expo Hall
  • Clubs Expo Hall

RecCon takes place November 28th and 29th, 2020. For more information, and to learn how to host a panel, event, or booth in the expo hall, please see this webpage.


VRCon takes place December 11th to 13th, 2020 in VRChat. The deadline to apply for a virtual booth is December 6th; here is the application form. For more information, and to learn how to get involved, please follow their Twitter or join their Discord server.

Here’s a short promotional video which was just posted to YouTube:

COVID Feel Good: A Free Self-Help Virtual Reality App to Treat the Psychological Stress Caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic

The homepage of the COVID Feel Good website

A new, free virtual reality app aims to help those struggling with pandemic-related stress to get their symptoms under control. VRScout reports:

There’s no question about it. The current COVID-19 pandemic has us going through a roller coaster of feelings right now. Not only have we been cut off from normal social gatherings such as family gatherings, concerts and after work hangouts, but it’s preventing us from traveling, putting a damper on many holiday travel plans. 

Thankfully, we have now have access to an extensive array of VR technology that allows us to escape our dreary reality. A recently published research paper shows that using VR to hang out with friends through socialVR platforms, go to concerts, play games, or “visit” other parts of the world actually has a positive impact on your level of happiness.

Italian researchers worked with 400 participants over a three month period as part of this in depth study. Users were encouraged to view 360 photos and videos of other countries, visit virtual gardens and beaches, spend time with other VR users in platforms such as VRChat or Mozilla Hubs, and isolate themselves in a virtual location referred to as the “Secret Garden” to reflect privately.  

Here’s a link to the research paper mentioned in the VRScout article, written by Dr. Giuseppe Riva, a professor of general psychology at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy, and titled How Cyberpsychology and Virtual Reality Can Help Us to Overcome the Psychological Burden of Coronavirus (which was published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, volume 23, issue 5, 2020).

The paper states:

To help our readers to discover the well-being potential of VR, we suggest the use of a freely available VR tool: ‘‘The Secret Garden.’’ It is a 10-minute 3D 360-degree video (4K resolution supported) that can be found here (https://www.covidfeelgood.com/), designed to combat stress and counter the disappearance of places and communities generated by the coronavirus.

Recently developed in Lombardy, the Italian region at the center of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak by a group of Italian psychologists (https://become-hub.com/en/), it has been designed keeping in mind that providing psychological relief to so many (Lombardy population is >8 million inhabitants) over such a large geographical area would be complex. In fact, to experience it, any smartphone or tablet/PC will work. However, to fully experience the psychological benefits of being in a digital place, a cardboard headset is also necessary, including those sold for 15–30 USD in different digital marketplaces.

Here’s a three-minute YouTube that outlines the process and the app:

The app comes with a detailed, 19-page protocol; instructions are available in a variety of languages, including English:


To start the self-help experience you need:

For more info about the rationale of using VR and the science behind the protocol, you can check the different links provided.


The app is unfortunately only available via cellphone-based VR, not the Oculus Quest or any other VR headsets. For further information, please refer to the COVID Feel Good website.

This project is yet another example of how virtual reality can be used as a way to treat people who are struggling with mental health issues. an area where more and more research is being conducted every day at universities around the world. If you are interested in Dr. Riva’s work, he has also written the following research article:

Riva, G., Mantovani, F., & Wiederhold, B. K. (2020). Positive technology and COVID-19. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 23(9), 581–587.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

1029Chris: A Duck for All Worlds

1029Chris is among that group which I half-jokingly, half-lovingly refer to as “my people“: passionate proponents of social VR platforms and virtual worlds, the sort of people who believe in the power and potential of virtual worlds, much the same as I do. Many of them belong to the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, where we gather to discuss, debate, and argue over various metaverse projects, and share pictures and videos of our adventures.

One of those people, 1029Chris (she/her), is a Canadian avatar creator. I have written about 1029Chris’ work in passing when I blogged about VRChat’s Virtual Market 4:

1029Chris’ bird sanctuary: feed the wonderfully animated ducks!

…I was invited to experience a special world built by someone I know well from the RyanSchultz.com Discord, 1029Chris, who had spent two weeks creating an amazing bird sanctuary with animated ducks, who milled about, and responded eagerly when I selected food items from a nearby picnic table to feed them! It was wonderfully done, and I hope to return soon for another visit.

Chris’s world is called the Udon Bird Sanctuary, if you are searching for it in VRChat. A visit is highly recommended, especially if you are feeling stressed out!

Chris signature duck avatar in VRChat
Another shot of Chris in VRChat

But 1029Chris is active in so many more virtual worlds than VRChat! She has decided to bring her signature duck and opossum avatars into as many virtual worlds and online games as she can. Here are some pictures which Chris kindly shared with me:

Chris’s duck and opossum avatars in Second Life
Chris in Sansar
Chris in Tower Unite
A couple of shots of Chris (in the world she created) on the old High Fidelity social VR platform
Chris in Barotrauma
Chris’ possum avatar in Garry’s Mod
Chris and her boyfriend in Garry’s Mod
Chris in Half Life 1
Chris in Minecraft

But Chris doesn’t just do still pictures! She also does machinima (that is, videos which are recorded in virtual worlds and games):

Chris in Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Chris in Super Mario 64 (I absolutely love the part where she takes off her glasses and mops her brow!)
Chris in Half Life 2
Chris in Jet Set Radio Future
Chris in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Chris in Yakuza 0

1029Chris is only one of many people I know who delight in bringing their avatars from one virtual world to another. All of them possess skills I wish I had!