The Virtual Environments (VE) PLN focuses on using immersive virtual worlds in education. The VSTE Virtual Environments Professional Learning Network (VE PLN) formed in 2015 as VSTE’s first PLN, under the leadership of Kim Harrison, Vasili Giannoutsos, William Schmachtenberg, and Keith Reeves.
Second Life is a multi-user virtual 3D environment with nearly 1 million users. Participants create avatars who can navigate the virtual world and build their own simulations. VSTE Island can be found here. This location will change sometime after mid-June, 2019.
Ready to go? You'll need to install the free Second Life Viewer and create an account called an avatar, which is a virtual representation of yourself. You can always edit your avatar but you CANNOT edit your username, which is public. We recommend starting with the Rockcliffe University Consortium Gateway. We also recommend using the Firestorm viewer.
The Virginia Society for Technology in Education, recognizing the potential of Second Life for education and professional development, opened the first VSTE World Headquarters in 2006 with a parcel on one of the EduIsland regions.
In 2008 VSTE rented its first island (complete region), and with the help of passionate volunteers, built a recreation of historic Jamestown including the ships, the fort and the Powhatan Village. Notecards with historical information and interactive activities have made VSTE Island a popular learning spot in Second Life. In December 2011, VSTE proudly introduced a simulation of the beautiful, majestic Natural Bridge in Virginia. VSTE Island was completely redesigned in 2016, and included a Teacher Resource Center and Orientation area. Currently VSTE Island is being redesigned again, scheduled to reopen in August 2019.
VSTE holds weekly meetings in Second Life and has featured nationally recognized speakers such as Kathy Schrock and Chris O’Neal. The content covers topics related to education and educational technology, including how to help teachers better meet the Standards of Learning. Several book groups have been held, and sessions have been recorded in order to reach out to a wider audience.
The group also provided tours of the Jamestown Island simulation for groups of K-12 and higher education administrators. Our group has been invited to present at a variety of both virtual and face-to-face conferences about our work in virtual worlds. Finally, our space is becoming increasingly popular for use by outside educational groups. In addition, we have used social networking communities such as the VSTEOnline Ning, Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. Our group has been invited to present at a variety of both virtual and face to face conferences about their work in Second Life. Our space is becoming increasingly popular for use by outside educational groups.
Since 2011, VSTE has participated in Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE), a Second Life community-based annual conference that provides opportunities for participants in all virtual worlds to share current teaching, learning, and research practices in 3D virtual environments. Conference presentations focus on teaching/learning, scholarly work, projects, events, activities and new and innovative tools for virtual education. Presenters will focus on the identification of best practices in education designed for 3D immersive virtual world technology. VSTE has had virtual poster sessions and exhibits at the VWBPE conferences and hosted the VWBPE Steampunk Fashion show in 2013. VSTE members have presented at this conference numerous times over the year. Learn more at http://vwbpe.org/.
The VSTE VE PLN has maintained a parcel in Open Simulator (OpenSim), which is similar to Second Life. Our location is generously hosted by AvaCon Inc. on AvaCon Grid. Email Beth O'Connell for more information.
VSTE Place is our shared Minecraft server. Its purpose is for educators to learn to navigate one of the most widely used virtual worlds among K-12 students. The VE PLN hosts Minecraft Mondays on the first Monday of each month at 8:00 pm Eastern time. Email Kim Harrison for more information.