Taking part in the 2020 iLRN Conference

Like so many events this year, the 6th annual iLRN conference had to change its venue, timing, and approach due to COVID-19. The organizers and participants had a number of tools at their disposal and a taste for exploration, making the transition to an online conference an opportunity to experiment! 

The conference, held in a virtual ‘campus’ using the platform VirBELA, allowed participants to move their customizable avatars through different spaces to attend presentations and panels, display posters and immersive works in the Expo hall and using Frame.vr showcases. Plenary talks were livestreamed to YouTube, and an iLRN discord channel is continuing conversations started at the conference.

Corinne and Jessica represented Killer Snails in the poster session, publishing a work-in-progress paper about our recent research into student collaboration in GeoForge, and giving or moderating several talks, including Jessica’s plenary talk “Leveling Up Collaboration in Multi-Modal VR Science”, where she discussed Killer Snails’ recent work leveraging mobile VR with BioDive and expanding player collaboration with GeoForge. Jessica also moderated a panel, “Gaming in VR: School Classrooms Without Walls,” with industry leaders Lisa Castaneda from Foundry10, David Langendoen from Electric Funstuff , Brooke Morrill of Schell GamesMeredith Thompson who leads the CLEVR program at MIT, and Dan White from Filament Games. Panelists discussed designing, evaluating, and pushing the boundaries of VR content for in-school learning in history, science, robotics, and language arts. A recording of the panel can be seen here!

Corinne moderated a panel discussion, “Who, Where, Why? Using XR for Learning in Informal Contexts” in which panelists Karen Alexander, Dan Roy, Kiley Sobel, and Vivian Trakinski discussed working in different informal contexts (homes, out-of-school programs, and museums) discussed their recent work designing XR for different audiences, content, and contexts, and lessons they have learned along the way. A recording of the panel can be seen here!

We particularly enjoyed Chris Dede’s opening remarks connecting the lessons learned from years of research into immersion in other media informs approaches to designing experiences for XR, and Jessica Brillhart’s take on using meaningful connections to bring out the best in XR and gaming. 

Another aspect of the conference was how international the participants were. We enjoyed seeing research from Erica Southgate of Australia on “Conceptualising Embodiment Through Virtual Reality for Education.” In addition, the work from Xiuli Huang of Chinaon “Students’ Perception of a Collaborative GameBased Virtual Learning Environment” was fascinating. The conference community was welcoming and full of helpful ideas to share via the chat.

Looking forward to the “State of XR Report” and staying engaged with this dynamic community!