CUE Conference, Second Life Playground

I am down attending the annual CUE Conference in Palm Springs, California this week. I am spending a few hours each day working in the Second Life Playground. There are several (under powered) laptops connected to the conference center broadband (read: drinking straw pipeline). The experience is not optimal, but it is sufficient for attendees to sit down, create an avatar, and to get a tour of ISTE Island. It’s amazing how many teachers here have been in Second Life but had no idea that ISTE was in there, or even that educators are networking and teaching in-world.

There are a bunch of seats set up with a projector for one of the computers so that people waiting for a turn on a laptop can watch and hear the tours being given in-world. Yesterday RavenPhoenix was giving fully narrated tours of ISTE Island. I was helping people and discussing the educational possibilities of the platform. There’s a lot of interest in this technology at the conference, and several session are being given today and tomorrow on these 21st Century learning technologies.

I’m excited, as I am going to get to two different sessions on Maya. I’ve never used it, and I am anxious to get a good introduction to the application. I’ll give my impression late tomorrow on how those work out. I am also looking forward to the talks that Dr. Chris Dede is giving on 21st Century Learning Styles and Mobile Technology, River City: How Immersion in Virtual Worlds helps real students, and 21st Century Skills, Education, and Economic Development for Global Knowledge-based Workplaces (see more details here).

I’ve been coming to Palm Springs for years, and I am a huge fan of Farmers Markets (I went to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, one of the best and longest running Farmers Markets on the West Coast). There’s one guy who has always been here in Palm Springs. He draws huge crowds while creating virtual landscapes on paper.

What he does is paint truly amazing landscapes (both realistic and SciFi) using only spray paint cans and various objects (strips of paper, metal rings, cans, etc.). He is always parked off on a side street off the main street with large crowds gathered around watching his creative process. Some of the effects that he creates are truly amazing considering the medium.

Creativity is one of the three C’s of virtual worlds; Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication. Creativity is the spice of life, and in virtual worlds it breathes life into the bits and bytes we build our worlds from. One of these trips I am going to have to ask the ‘Spray Paint Man’ what his day job is. I will probably be surprised when I finally find out. I hope he’s not an accountant.

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