The Immersive Learning Research Network Partners with Educators in VR to Host the iLRN Conference in Virtual Reality, June 21st to 25th, 2020: How You Can Attend for Free!

I’m not sure how I missed it, but the Immersive Learning Research Network is among the many organizations that have decided to completely move their real-world conference this year into virtual reality (here’s the press release):

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN) has made the decision to host its IEEE technically co-sponsored annual conference for 2020 fully online and in virtual reality (VR), supported by a number of other software platforms. iLRN will offer this conference, now in its sixth year, in conjunction with Educators in VR, the organizers of the highly successful Educators in VR International Summit that was held in VR in February of this year, which included over 170 speakers and attracted over 6,000 event attendees.

The iLRN Annual Conference is the premier scholarly event focusing on advances in the use of VR as well as 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. iLRN 2020 had been slated to take place at the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, California, USA from June 21 to 25. The conference dates remain the same despite the shift to the virtual format, though the deadline has been extended for work-in-progress academic papers as well as for practitioner presentations, workshops, panels, and special sessions to April 19, 2020.

And, as Educators in VR reminds us in this tweet, early-bird registration for students, faculty, teachers, and educational administrators is free! But you have to register by April 19th, 2020. Here’s the form to get your free tickets via EventBrite (please note that you must use an email address associated with your educational institution to take advantage of this offer).

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CoinFest 2020 Runs March 30th to April 5th in Decentraland

CoinFest 2020, a virtual cryptocurrency conference, is taking place from March 30th to April 5th, 2020 within the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland.

But, before we get to that, I have a bone to pick with one of the crypto news organizations that is covering this event. Let me rant.

The CoinTelegraph cryptocurrency news website actually used the following image to illustrate an article titled Crypto Conference Defies COVID-19 Lockdown by Hosting in Virtual Realm:

What the in name of sweet minty Jesus is this?!?? Somebody needs to inform the folks at CoinTelegraph that this is a pandemic, and not some goddamned mix-and-mingle cocktail party with face masks added as the latest trendy fashion accessory. The tone-deafness of this is absolutely astounding, and frankly I find it offensive.

The accompanying article states:

The COVID-19 crisis may have put a stop to millions of sports events, work conferences and meet-ups across the world, but it has not halted those in the cryptocurrency space.

The Coinfest Conference, which runs until April 4, has found a way to defy the coronavirus lockdown by setting up shop in the digital blockchain realm of Decentraland. 

The first day of the virtual conference kicked off on March 30th, beginning with a round of games that offered users the chance to win MANA tokens — one of Decentraland’s native currencies.


All right, now that I have gotten that off my chest, let’s get back to the actual conference itself.

You can get free tickets for Coinfest here, as well as see a complete schedule of events taking place.

All events take place at the Meeting Center at the Decentraland Conference Center (that last link should take you directly there, although you might have to set up an avatar first if you’ve never visited before). The owner and operator of the Conference Center, Carl Fravel, has provided a guide to getting started in Decentraland.

Carl himself will be giving a presentation at Coinfest at 6:30 p.m. UTC (11:30 a.m. Pacific Time) in Saturday, April 4th, on the topic Decentraland – A Virtual World on the Blockchain. And, if you like, you can join in the party which starts at 5:00 p.m. UTC at this location.

See you there!

The MuseWeb 2020 Conference, Running March 31st to April 4th, Will Have Some Events Taking Place in Second Life

One of the largest annual museum conferences in the world, MuseWeb (Museums and the Web) has moved to an entirely online version because of the coronavirus pandemic. The organizers of the MW20 conference, running from March 31st to April 4th, 2020, have decided to hold part of the conference within Second Life:

Dr Nancy Proctor, a leading organizer of the Museums and the Web Conference in Los Angeles, had not played Second Life since 2003 – until a few weeks ago, when she had to take the now-cancelled event online. 

Second Life is too technically taxing to carry the whole event, she says; not every attendee can download the software, make their own avatar and learn to navigate the world (which sometimes involves flying). But traditional videoconferencing struggles to replicate “the serendipity, the sense of being there and being together” of in-person networking, whereas Second Life has “exactly that ineffable quality”.

All this has made things pretty frantic for Linden [Lab]. It is scrambling to educate new customers, setting them up with restricted private islands ($349 a pop, although Proctor’s conference has been donated one for free).

Unfortunately, unlike the Educators in VR Summit and the IEEE VR 2020 Conference, the general public cannot attend the MW20 conference sessions for free, whch will be held using Microsoft Teams. However, anybody can visit the set of four sims that Linden Lab has set up for social events, the Birds of a Feather Breakfast, and the closing plenary at this SLURL:

The conference’s spacious auditorium is decorated with works of art by Afrofuturist artist Nettrice Gaskins:

I popped in for a quick visit, to take these pictures, and I met a couple of people who had just joined Second Life, to attend the MuseWeb conference events.

Here is the full program for the MW20 conference. I would encourage Second Life users to be on hand to help welcome and orient all the newcomers this conference will bring to SL!

Lessons Learned from the Educators in VR Conference

Lorelle VanFossen, one of the organizers of the wildly successful six-day Educators in VR 2020 International Summit, recently wrote up a very detailed blogpost outlining the experience of setting up and running a virtual conference on AltspaceVR and four other social VR platforms.

Here’s a link to the entire article on the Educators in VR website, and I would very strongly encourage you to read it in full. However, I will highlight just a couple of things that the Educators in VR group co-founders Daniel Dyboski-Bryant and Lorelle VanFossen, and their hard-working team of volunteers, learned along the way.

Their original plan was only to have 40 to 60 speakers, but that ballooned to 170 speakers in over 150 events spread over 6 days (happening at time zones around the clock for a global audience). Because everybody volunteered their time and energy for this free-to-attend event, the total costs for the entire six-day virtual conference were only around US$300! (Try doing that for a real-world conference!)

Most of the events were held in AltspaceVR:

As our home-base is currently AltspaceVR, we worked with our Educators in VR team and the AltspaceVR events team to ensure our event spaces would be safe and high performance to accommodate a variety of devices. While other virtual social and event platforms are usually limited to 20-50 attendees, AltspaceVR could be easily coaxed to larger room numbers and features the Front Row tool that allows for the mirroring of events spaces, allowing hundreds to thousands of attendees to view the experience from separate identical event spaces, improving overall user and device performance. Accordingly, we hosted the majority of our events in AltspaceVR.

In fact, the team behind AltspaceVR learned so much from hosting this conference that they just announced a slew of new features, including links to Patreon and EventBrite to allow for ticketed events in future!

I’m sure that many new users were introduced to AltspaceVR because of the Educators in VR conference, and both parties benefited from the partnership! The summit also gave ENGAGE, Rumii, Somnium Space, and Mozilla Hubs an opportunity to show off their platforms to those who never experienced them before, too.

Other conference organizers were quick to take note. HTC decided to have its annual Vive Ecosystem Conference in ENGAGE. And both Mozilla Hubs and AltspaceVR were used for the recently concluded IEEE VR 2020 conference, which, for the first time, was held entirely in virtual reality (and opened up for free to the general public) due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Hearty congratulations to Lorelle and Daniel, and a special shout-out to Donna McTaggart, the tireless Summit Coordinator and Manager, and her team of 75 volunteers!

I leave you with a one-and-a-half hour YouTube video where the organizers share what they learned behind the scenes, a must watch!

Lorelle ends her article by saying that they are now taking what they have learned from running the Educators in VR Summit and making that expertise available to others as consultants:

We’re developing training courses to help you produce your own virtual events of all sizes. The Educators in VR team is already providing consultation services to companies exploring virtual meetings and conferences, and negotiating production of virtual conferences and workshops for a variety of companies globally. We planned on taking our time, but with the demand for alternatives due to the COVID-19/coronavirus, we’re stepping up and into this as part of our range of services for working with business and academia to integrate virtual technologies.

If we can assist you, please contact us for more information.