Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 10.33.53 AM[1]Have you registered for the FantasTech Virtual Conference?

Mark Nov 8-15, 2013 on your calendar and join VCCS colleagues, as well as other educators from around the globe, at this virtual conference. Come as you are (or stay as you were!) without packing, standing in a line, or missing a meeting at work: well, OK, that’s not the best tag line, is it? How about this, though: registration is free.  Get online and register now!

This year’s theme is Global Teaching and Learning. How are you reaching out beyond the walls of your campus? Do you use technology to bring in guest speakers via Skype, Bb Collaborate, or other video system? Are you sharing or using resources from other open sources? What does it mean to be global in 2013?

The FantasTech Conference will take place in a 3D immersive environment, like Second Life, but so much better. In 1991, Bricken stated that virtual reality was in the “unique position of being commercially available before being academically understood” and that advancements in this “new computational paradigm fundamentally redefine the interface between humans and computers” (Bricken). Unlike Second Life, in the Avaya virtual platform you don’t have wings, you can’t be a cat, necromancer, or ball of fire, and you use your actual name. Avaya is built for business and professional interactions and meant to be simple to use and navigate. And it is. 3D environments need to be academically understood and I invite you to come experience it. Don’t worry: there will be many opportunities for presenters and attendees to practice walking, waving, and clapping (although you really won’t need much practice). We are all learning together.

This story may encourage you to give this virtual conference a try:  this summer, I was meeting in the virtual environment to plan this conference with some of my innovative peers in VCCS. My 10-year old grandson happened to be visiting, so I told him to hang out with me and watch this cool thing. He was intrigued, albeit not as ‘wowed’ as I expected. He saw the people (avatars) with whom I was interacting and heard their names and voices. Flash-forward to one month later when he was visiting me at work. A colleague stopped by my office, and when he left my grandson asked “Was that Patrick?” Me: “What??” “You know, Patrick who you met with this summer?” Wow – he was connecting the real and virtual worlds without missing a beat.

This is your future student.

I am hoping your curiosity has been peaked. I am hoping that you will use mindfulness to provide academic understanding to this interface between humans and computers. I am hoping that you will register and attend. Even better, please consider proposing a presentation so we can all learn from one another.

Bricken, M. No Interface to Design. Cyberspace: The First Steps. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA: 1991.