It’s 2020 and Mobile World Congress has announced its keeping it doors closed because of the threat of spreading coronavirus. Its the sensible thing to do but I can appreciate why people may feel disappointed that they cannot see the latest tech in action. Nor engage with industry leaders or connect with other like-minded people from the industry. I once had the privilege of visiting MWC in 2018 thanks to Lenovo. I was blown away by the sheer size of the event let alone the amazing people and things to see & do inside the venue. I learned so much about from listening to as many people as I possible could whilst there. Unfortunately I was hit with disruption when returning back home from Barcelona to Scotland because Glasgow Airport was covered in ‘Beast from the East’ snow and forced to close for 3 days.
So with potential health & environmental reasons you may find it difficult to attend conferences over an above the traditional more common reasons such as travel & accommodation (if applicable) costs, childcare arrangements, the stress of travel itself and not to mention being organised in advance to ensure you have scheduled the ‘freedom’ to attend if you are able to. Of course there are other factors that can complicate attending real world conferences and events if you have a health condition yourself or perhaps your native language is different from that of the venue too.
But there is an alternative. I’ve written blog posts before about virtual reality meetings, covered the world’s first full day conference in virtual reality and I’ve even spoken at these VR events before. I love them and I’m a passionate cheerleader to encourage more to happen! The financial, environmental & accessibility benefits are pretty clear but they are also fun and memorable too.
The Educators in VR International Summit is the world’s first 6 day conference with +170 speakers with more than 150 events. They have been continually running for 24 hours a day so you can attend something no matter what timezone you live in. The hosts of this amazing summit are Daniel Dyboski-Bryant and Lorelle Vanfossen. My favourite social VR gurus Donna McTaggart and Andy Fidel are playing leading support roles and there are several volunteers who are helping with livestreaming, hosting & moderating duties.
Being the largest virtual reality conference to date it offers such a fantastic wide range of talks including the likes of:
The Basics of VR/AR/XR/MR
Research into Spatial Technologies in Education
Corporate Uses for Training and Education
vCoaching and Personal Development
Diversity and Access
Medical and Science
Computer Science and Math
Corporate Use Examples and Cases
Developers and Creators of Immersive Apps and Technology
I am writing this on the last day of the Educators in VR International Summit so sadly you cannot attend most of the live events but they have been recorded and stored on their YouTube channel. The full schedule of events can be found here.
The community involvement has been spectacular. Folks from all over the world have joined in to speak, support or enjoy learning from industry leaders. Immersive companies have come together too and hosted events across platforms such as AltSpace VR, Immersive VR Education’s Engage, Rumii, Mozilla Hibs and Somnium Space. All of these platforms are multi-user social VR platforms. Some you may not be able to access without a VR headset whilst others you can access on desktop/PC, smartphone or tablets. This is a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of visiting each of them for a tour as well! Something I have been planning to showcase via my YouTube channel for a while now but still not managed to prioritise my time for those videos yet sadly. Videos don’t do these immersive spaces justice anyways so take the opportunity to join a personal tour.
The most endearing thing about this summit are the people who take the time to attend them. By coming along and listening to the speakers you are able to learn things from pioneers who are at the forefront the immersive tech community. Folks attend from all over the world. Yet the most inspiring message of all is that as an attendee or viewer, YOU are part of that. If you then choose to take your new learning and use it for something else then you are helping to move the industry too. What an opportunity to join the next wave of computing evolution and carve your place in the history books, if you so wish! I love that!
Various speakers are coming together to share their knowledge and expertise with you, for free. How about hearing from the ‘Grandfather of Virtual Reality’ Tom Furness and founder of the Virtual World Society in this livestreamed video clip? Or Alvin Wang Graylin, President of HTC Vive. Or how about watching Kent Bye from the Voices of VR Podcast who always has a way of making us smarter after listening to the wealth of knowledge he shares. There’s so many others to watch & re-watch in the future! You can even watch David De Jong (VRAR Innovator for Elder Care at Patyna) and I give a talk on Virtual Reality for Eldercare and Dementia if that is a subject that interests you too.
I’ve given a few talks in virtual reality now and it still makes me smile to see the floating emojis people give you. If you use a virtual reality headset to attend these events then you will be no stranger to the sensation of ‘presence’ or the feeling of actually being in the room with real people. The differences between each platforms avatar is fascinating and I find it interesting to look at how people choose to customise their avatar appearance. The event spaces allow for personal branding or sponsorship marketing materials to be in view too. The Educators In VR International Summit organisers even created a VIP Lounge for speakers to meet prior to their scheduled talk time. Having that space to ‘check-in’ and chill before heading to your talk venue/room was a lovely touch! I took a few photos of that for you below. As you can see we had a beautiful sunrise and could help ourselves to a little beverage to steady the nerves if we wanted 😉
It would be wonderful if the number of attendees was something that could be tracked. If you follow the hashtags #EducatorsInVR #2020EdInVR or #edinvr to follow what people had to say about the events, photos or even slides for talks. Overall it was an incredible summit, well organised and full of a wealth of learning! Congratulations to everyone involved and I hope that this becomes an annual occurrence. If you would like to support them then you can check out their Go Fund Me page.
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Tribute and inspiration for this summit was for our friend, Chris Long. Chris was an engaging member of the VR community who actively worked towards pushing the industry forward.
Hopefully see you there next year -)