While there was much at the Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds conference (May 12-13, Washington DC) that would catch the educators' eye, and much that wouldn't, two things of note: Edward Castronova's* keynote lecture advocated Studying Beehives, not Bees - which was an excellent way to move us into a structural discussion of virtual worlds instead of analyzing the latest lawsuit or scandal. (*small fangirl swoon)
Castronova's work with Arden and Greenland were both on display - here's a bit of description from Arden (http://mypage.iu.edu/~castro/arden.html).
And Tony O'Driscoll's point, beautifully illustrated with a visit to the Lost Colony in Roanoke NC, that the chair-desk-room structure of educational environments is easily and quickly identified by even young children, no matter if you're in the 16th century or the 21st (http://www.slideshare.net/tonyodriscoll/fcvw-keynote-2010). It is time for us to look at this, and to look at the tools we have on hand, and see how we can offer students new ways to learn, and new places to learn in.
The metrics O'Driscoll in particular showed in his presentation is that learning happens in virtual spaces - and further study from Castronova's model will help bear that out and show us new ways to grow as educators. So even though this wasn't an education conference per se, I say, let the learning happen where you find it - and learn from this - the tools are there... and they are becoming more interesting every day.
I for one was glad to hear these two in person. Big hat tip to Chimera Cosmos and Jennette Forager for luring me there and making the stay so pleasant.
Here's the tweetstream from the conference, because O'Driscoll and Castronova? Just the tip of the iceberg. http://twitter.com/#search?q=fcvw