Jokaydia Unconference May 2010

jokaydia_unconference_blog

I was fortunate enough to attend part of the jokaydia Unconference last weekend.  It was a little tricky as, like so many others, I had to carefully plan the weekend around a number of family commitments.  I could have quite easily attended EVERY session at the unconference as there were a variety of informative, innovative and exciting sessions on offer.  If you are unfamiliar with the term “unconference”, click here for a definition.

For my first session, I went on a ReactionGrid tour and was excited to return to the ImmersED sim created by Kerry Johnson (Pandora Kurrajong).  I had visited the sim on my own and seen Kerry talk about it briefly at ACEC2010.  However, visiting the sim surrounded by other eductaors and having the opportunity to discuss aspects of the sim was a valuable experience for me.

I had been looking forward to attending the Robotics session with the ReactionGrid team and, despite some early technical difficulties, Kyle Gomboy and Chris Hart took us through the exciting possibilities when you combine OpenSim with Robotics and, in particular, free software such as the Microsoft Robotics Studio.  I came into the session under the impression that this was going to be something similar to Scratch 4 OpenSim.  However, I was very wrong!  Microsoft Robotics Studio will even allow you to connect a web cam so that movement of a real life person can be then translated to an in-world avatar! Wow!  There are a number of excellent resources about this topic on the jokaydia Unconference Session Wiki page.  Scroll down to Session 2: ReactionGrid Robotics Studio.

I attended my first jokaydia Unconference in 2009 and decided that perhaps it was time to really push myself “outside my comfort zone” and share the journey so far of our school’s virtual worlds program.  A twitter colleague suggested that I run a session and, although I had given many face-to-face presentations and workshops at my school, I knew that presenting in-world was going to be a “completely different ball game”!  However, I was hoping that sharing our story might inspire other educators who would like to implement a virtual worlds program at their school, but were presented with the challenges that so many of us are faced with when trying to implement change.

I decided to focus on the theme of “Implementing a Virtual Worlds Program in a Traditional School Environment”.  I was hoping the session would be more than just me talking about our school’s project so I tried to keep my slideshow “short and sweet” to leave plenty of time for questions and discussion.  I also prepared some items for a display. Jokay had very kindly scheduled the session in the beautiful Jokaydia Meeting Hall so there was plenty of room for a “Key Words” display and looping slideshow screen featuring screenshots of our OpenSim Project.

Overall, it was a very positive experience and I felt so privileged to be able to share our story with educators from around the world, including many who have been mentors and an inspiration to me.  I’m also very grateful to Jokay, for organising this wonderful virtual worlds event and John Wilson at Onlinevents for recording a number of the unconference sessions.  Being able to watch a recording of my first in-world presentation and critically evaluate it, was a valuable experience for me.  (Note to self: No more “ums” and “you knows”!)  A full list of presentation resources can be found at http://delicious.com/lucybarrow/bgsvirtualworlds

Thank you to Jokay and everyone involved in another highly successful jokaydia Unconference!