The presentation will discuss examples of how virtual worlds can enable immersion and a sense of presence through game play and role play. Both these forms of activity are established methods of physical world language learning, but virtual environments can add a further dimension of immersion in environments that are difficult, dangerous or impractical to access in the physical world. The tour which follows the presentation will give participants the opportunity to see examples of play and simulation environments that include mimics of game shows (the UK show “Dragon’s Den”) and to play a game of soccer on a fully functioning pitch.
Professor Liz Falconer, Director, Education Innovation Centre, University of the West of England
I am currently Professor of Technology Enhanced Learning and Director of the Education Innovation Centre at the University of the West of England, Bristol. I am a career academic with more than 25 years’ experience in UK universities, and have specialised in designing, researching, developing and managing online, distance and flexible learning for most of that time. I have management and leadership experience in private industry and higher education; I achieved Chartered Manager status of the Chartered Management Institute in 2013 and was a finalist in the National Management and Leadership Awards 2013 in the Outstanding Leader of the Year category.
I am an expert user of ICT, including learning technologies, social media, video, virtual worlds, 2D and 3D avatars and a wide range of software applications. I was shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Awards 2010 in the Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year category for my work in virtual world simulations and educational games.
It seems that in every jurisdiction governing language learning, the oral component of the process has become preeminent. This is understandable, and has encouraged the development of various 3D immersive environments for providing authentic and contextual spaces for social interactions in various languages. Unfortunately, the platforms commonly used come with a variety of considerations that restrict what is possible. The development of such spaces with Unity3D however addresses many of these concerns and limitations. This presentation will include a field-trip into a Unity3D build being used by a Francophone group to give their isolated students a place to practice and improve their mother tongues in a truly dynamic environment.
Gord Holden aka Golden Greymoon
My sojourn as a classroom teacher for 20 years in Canada was interrupted by a move into a distance education position. While I had been utilizing and presenting on the use of technology in education for many years, the need to integrate 21st Century technologies became quickly and painfully evident. My response to this resulted in me being hired away from the public school system to create and oversee the Immersive Technology Department with Heritage Christian Online School. My department has 6 employees working in it, with a number of others working with us, and a team of others doing contract work. We’ve committed ourselves to developing the use of environments that would bridge the existing gap between the gaming and educational community in the effective use of immersive environments. The suite of programs we’ve been using has recently been bolstered by Unity3D. It’s a platform that I see as a baby giant, with the potential to dwarf all others in education as it begins to mature. Our immediate goal is to develop it for language learning. I look forward to sharing our progress in this with those interested in moving beyond the platforms in current use today.
Winner of the Claude E Lewis, Maxwell Cameron, and Apex Award for Education.
Currently a nominee for ISTE’s “E-learning Teacher of the Year.”