Friday, May 11, 2007


Virtual worlds, real learning?

Yesterday I attended the Eduserv Foundation's symposium entitled; "Virtual worlds, real learning?" The event was quickly oversubscribed, and they appeared to have limited attendance to one person from the majority of institutions.

The event ran in real life (at the Congress Centre in central London) and at a couple of place in Second Life (SL). There was a limited communication between us and them, as we were discouraged from running SL as it would certainly have led to bandwidth problems. We could however see them and watch what they typed (well I could as I positioned myself near to a screen).

Following the opening remarks the first session was a presentation by Jim Purbrick (Babbage Linden), he talked about SL and its potential, it was probably a good overview for people without in- world experience.

The second talk was by Roo Reynolds of IBM. I knew what of their work – I have visited the Sear's shop; but it was interesting to hear of other things they were doing. There area few links that look worth checking out: and He also mentioned a SL area for learning about SOA – will have to check out where that is.

The third talk was Holyrood Park – an initiative from Edinburgh University to set up a virtual campus. Good to see a traditional university taking such an initative.

Lunch was interesting (the SL folks didn't get lunch) I talked to a few groups about their plans and work.

The next talk was by Joanna Scott about Nature's use of SL – they have an island Second Nature. Essentially they are experimenting, but from their point of view it is a small investment and potentially a huge area.

Then came Gilly Salmon, of Leicester. I had attended a keynote speech by Gilly at iLearn Paris, and not surprisingly most of what she said in London was a subset of the talk in Paris.

The final speaker of the day was Stephen Downes ( – he took a view that SL wasn't the way forward, with the problems of commercial ownership and that it wasn't really Web 2.0. He was very entertaining.

Then there was a panel session. This included all the speakers, and introduced Sarah de Fraitis (who wrote the JISC report on Immersive Worlds). Sarah spoke for about 5 minutes about her work, she has just taken up a post of Director of Research at the Serious Games Institute in Coventry. Then questions were taken from both audiences. The questions were largely aimed at Jim on aspects of SL, particularly on open sourcing.

The event finished with a drink receptions, a time to network. I fixed a meeting with Stephen Warburton (Kings College London), he had done a lot of work on recent proposals we were involved in and we have some ideas for the future.

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