Immersive Education Initiative London Summit 2009

While Nicole and Jordan were in Washington DC, I was attending the Immersive Education Initiative London Summit at the London School of Economics here in the UK. Apparently the sessions were recorded so you’ll be able to catch up with them later. However, one of the sessions that probably won’t have recorded well is one that Dr Michael Gardner and I presented on "Using Project Wonderland in your Organisation". We ran this session more like a participative workshop (hence the lack of suitable recording) in which we asked the audience members to identify the current issues facing the deployment of Virtual Worlds in education (not just Wonderland).  

We broke the audience into three user categories: educators, developers and learning technologists and asked them to identify the issues particular to them. 

Here’s the Educators’ list of issues:

  • Cost–education has no resources, getting less. Needs to cost nothing, no time, no investment, no support.
  • Current technology in schools is inadequate to run these kinds of worlds. Need to consider lower quality or other kinds of clients.
  • Need to demonstrate impact on learning–where is the pedagogical link?
  • Help us figure out which platform to choose
  • Who is going to build the VW space and look after it. We don’t have the time (or resources). Make it easier/faster, provide templates.
  • We have no time to invest in this.
  • We don’t want to replicate existing content but repurpose.
  • Needs to be accessible, easy to use and intuitive.

 Here’s the list from the Developers:

  • Mesh animation in avatars
  • Track activities of users
  • 3D Recorder
  • DB access–can we use JDBC?
  • Customisability via plugins

 And finally, the list from Learning Technologists:

  • Installability/deployability. Need to challenge the current "open source" culture whereby it’s assumed that all users are geeks. Need more tutorials and videos.
  • Multidisciplanary groups to take advantage of existing eLearning expertise. Don’t re-invent the wheel.
  • Recognise different user roles: educator, admin, learning technologist, instructional designer and provide tools for them.
  • Simulation tool for labs.

 Two outcomes of the session were:

  • the desire to find or form some kind of multidisciplinary working group to bring together developers, educators and learning designers
  • a clearing house for tested models or approved worlds that had been used in other teaching situations. Compared to the sitiuation of "rather than writing one’s own textbook, want to find one that’s been written by an expert"

 Michael Gardner offered to take a look at the various agencies in the UK to see which ones would be an appropriate umbrella for such a group.


I’ve attended several VW conferences over the past year, and this was by far the most enjoyable. It struck the right note about relating pedagogy to technology, rather then being driven by "cools tools". 

Participants at the "Using Wonderland" session 



3 Responses to Immersive Education Initiative London Summit 2009

  1. Ian Lamont says:

    Great post, Bernard. I was unable to attend the London summit but heard from several people who were there that it was very productive.
    I think the resources question will be a tough nut for many organizations to crack, but long term I am encouraged by the following factors:
    * The continued drop in hardware costs relative to processing power
    * The ability for educational institutions to expand educational offerings outside of their immediate geographical areas
    * The potential for "killer apps" to be developed around a 3D-oriented educational technology platform
    Also, I would like to point out that the Immersive Education Initiative has already established many working groups related to these and other issues (see We encourage you to join by visiting the following form:
    In addition, I hear from Aaron Walsh that the Immersive Education website ( will be relaunched with new community features in the next month, which will give more chances for interesting parties to participate in developing these technologies and best practices.
    We look forward to working with you on Immersive Education!
    Ian Lamont
    Board member, Immersive Education Initiative

  2. Nick Nagel says:

    First, please allow me to thank Bernard and Michael for coming out to the London School of Economics and sharing their work on Mixed Reality Learning. With all that virtual worlds have to offer (for education and myriad other applications) the one thing they can’t capture is the electrification and excitment in the air when folks experience something very cool and unique live. And that electricity was definitely present at the LSE when educators, developers and technologists all came together to discuss recent progress and the next steps toward enabling Immersive Education.
    Toward that end I’d just like to highlight that a large part of the ~Immersive Education Initiative~ has to do with the establishment of (1) ~community groups~ where folks from around the world can come together to collaborate and help each other get going in the world of Immersive Education, and (2) ~Technology Working Groups~ multidisciplinary groups where participants can work towards the development of standards and technologies aimed at bringing Immersive Education into the classroom.
    It’s easy to participate in the iED Initiative. Two working groups have already been launched and are fully operational; (1) the ~Open File Formats Technology Working Group~ (OFF.TWG) which addresses platform interoperability, and (2) the ~Library Technology Working Group~ (LIB.TWG) which addresses many of the issues raised by educators at the London Summit. The charter documents for these groups can be accessed at the following URLs respectively:
    (1) OFF.TWG
    (2) LIB.TWG
    In addition, several more working groups are planned spanning a broad number of domains and disciplines. For a complete list of planned Immersive Education Initiative Technology Working Groups you can visit:
    Interested parties can participate in the Initiative. To join, we encourage you to visit:
    Finally, do stay tuned for the launch of a new and improved website which will make it even easier to see what Immersive Education can offer:
    Thanks again for participating!
    H. Nicholas Nagel, PhD
    Senior Developer/Analyst/Architect and Lecturer
    Media Grid Institute and Boston College of Advancing Studies
    nick.nagel( at )

  3. Hello Bernard. I am interested in talking with you about showcasing the Wonderland project as a High Tech Demo at an upcoming event focusing on the use of games, simulations and virtual worlds for peformance.
    You can learn more about the event at And, you can learn more about the High Tech Demo component at
    In contrast to companies who may participate in the event as paid exhibitors, high-tech demonstrations are sought from leading-edge companies, emerging start-ups, and independent inventors whose products and innovations are still considered emergent by the corporate learning and K-16 markets. High-tech demos will be hands-on and engaging, and should seek to support participants’ exploration of emerging technologies and techniques in games, simulations, virtual Worlds or console games.
    If you’re interested in exploring this opportunity further, please email or give me a call at 717.901.5167.
    Andy Petroski
    Director of Learning Technologies and Assistant Professor of Learning Technologies
    Harrisburg University

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