In the memorable words of John Reed, “I have seen the future, and it works”. Under the banner Learning Without Walls: Multi-user virtual environments for training and education, CISM’s Annual Industrial Lecture was this year, for the first time, delivered simultaneously to a real-world audience in the Roberts Lecture Theatre, Kingston University, and before a virtual guest audience in the solipCISM amphitheatre. And it worked. But that’s the present; our speakers for the evening, in contrast, showed us the future.
Chaired in the Roberts Lecture Theatre by Tim Ellis, Dean of CISM, and in Second Life by myself, the 17th March event brought together three outstanding speakers to present their work in online education. And Bryan Carter, Dorette Steenkamp, and Cathy Walker are not merely charismatic speakers: they are pioneers, innovators and visionaries, each in their respective ways opening up new frontiers in e-learning.
Bryan Carter (Bryan Mnemonic in Second Life) is an Associate Professor of literature at the University of Central Missouri specialising in African American literature of the 20th Century, with a primary focus on the Harlem Renaissance. Bryan focused his presentation on Virtual Harlem, one of the earliest full virtual reality environments created for use in the humanities, and spoke of how he had used Second Life as a platform for transnational collaboration with partner universities in Europe.
Recipient of a Harvard University JF Kennedy School of Government Innovations Award, of a Rotary International Centennial Award for Service above Self, and of the Impumelelo Innovation Awards Trust for Sustainable Development in Africa, Dorette Steenkamp (Alanagh Recreant in Second Life) launched Virtual Africa in Second Life in 2008 to explore opportunities for innovation, advocacy and investment. In doing so, her company Uthango Social Investments–selected in 2008 by MIT as a Case Study for Sustainable Community Development–became the first African-based company and non-profit organisation with a formal virtual worlds’ strategy and presence in a 3D world. Uthango has been recognized for its role bringing African content to a broader audience and in exploring virtual worlds’ potential for development.
Possibly the most far-sighted and technologically dazzling of the three presentations, however, was that given by Cathy Walker, Co-Founder and Project Manager of MUVErs LLC and Chief Operating Officer of MUVEMarket, LLC. The multi-talented Cathy, who has made her mark as inter alia a rock musician and as virtual worlds campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 election campaign, presented MUVEMarket’s Virtual Patient Care Simulation Lab delivering on-demand state-of the-art medical training to nursing students in US universities.
All round, a stunning event with first class speakers.