I guess I should start a blog entry on the conference even though I haven’t really had time yet to assimilate much, if any of what I heard and experienced. Perhaps the biggest highlight of the whole conference was the high quality of so many of the presentations – thought provoking and lots of evidence for conclusions throughout – not a load of case studies and icing sugar. Although the most mentioned virtual world, perhaps inevitably, was Second Life, there were presentations based on other virtual worlds including World of Warcraft – is WoW a virtual world or a game or both? An excellent presentation by Sarah Robbins focused on the development of a taxonomy of virtual worlds – in my opinion much more thought through than the recent JISC review of serious virtual worlds – I must read the paper and look at the slides! Another presenter dealt with the necessary issue of what standards do we apply to our research in virtual worlds – and how do these compare with work in the ‘real world’; a number of research tools were considered alongside ethics and informed consent – remember there is a human behind every avatar (very few non-player characters in Second Life at present).
I have a lot of reading to do if I am to assimilate the content of the presentations I saw and also get a flavour of the many I was not able to see.
An interesting observation on my presentation from Mike Hobbs – he hadn’t considered using students to facilitate change in his institution before. Even though I had left change from the table on my presentation and had said we did not consider ourselves change agents, Mike has a point. We were engaged in a change process and maybe I am failing to notice the obvious – the effect of being involved in this type of project on the attitudes and practices of the staff involved. Moves into the world of psychology. I need to think more about this!
Looking at the blogs and twitter feeds, it is clear people enjoyed the conference – and frighteningly are talking about ReLIVE09! It even seems as though some might be considering offering some funding! For the moment, I need a good rest and an opportunity to recuperate before thinking of going near organising any more conferences!