Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ISTE10 Denver Conference Take-Aways

Without even leaving my desk I had a surprisingly fun and rewarding time at the ISTE conference this year. That's because I focused on virtual world presentations, many of which were presented on ISTE Island in Second Life.

Aside from my crazy virtual bike ride, here are some of my take aways:

  • The mixture of hyper- and multi-media made my head spin. I was forced to upgrade to SL Viewer 2 which I don't particularly like but it did allow for some amazing new options, like HTTP on a prim. The result was experiencing multiple simultaneous realities as presenters stood in the physical Virtual Environments area in Denver talking to a real audience WHILE projecting their avatars in Second Life to that audience WHILE directing their avatars in the Red Rocks presentation stage in SL to an audience of virtual attendees in-world, WHILE the attendees also watched the ustream broadcast of the real life presenter in the physical space on a dynamic HTTP surface behind the presenter's avatar. It gets complicated, right? You can imagine the complications of setting up the audio feeds.
  • There were more than a few tech issues for myself and others, but it was gratifying to see how calm and helpful everyone was. Somehow, the show always went on.
  • JB Hancroft gave an exciting presentation on the possibilities of scripting and media sharing with Viewer 2.0 and in a way what was most interesting was that for a while his examples didn't work and as he grew more apologetic and despondent we kept plugging away at figuring out how to interact with his prims to make his effects visible and finally got it. It was a mixture of JavaScript and lsl that gave you a button on the prim surface you could click to reveal a text message and hide it again. Really amazing. I was so impressed by the breadth of his innovations and the support coming from the audience reminding him it's all a work in progress and really great that he was trying this stuff.
  • I caught enough of Kyle Gomboy's presentation about Reaction Grid to know that I have to set something up there. As much as I enjoy OS Grid I think it's focus on software development and innovation makes it a hard place to set up a dependable educational region. I always crash when I go there for whatever reason. Taking a quick look at some of the regions in RG convinced me that's the place to take students and start working out some collaborative possibilities between schools. Having our standalone in our school has been great and of course we'll continue using it but the ability to share things with a wider audience is an important ultimate goal.
  • Bernajean Porter and Peggy Sheehy: "Get away from museum mode, move into narrative."

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