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Conference at Florida Tech Offers Real Look at Virtual Education

June 5-8 Event Funded by
National Science Foundation

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Expect very real scholarship about the power and potential of virtual education at the inaugural Virtual Worlds Education Conference June 5-8 on the campus of Florida Institute of Technology.

The four-day event, funded by the National Science Foundation, is organized by Kurt Winkelmann, associate professor of chemistry at Florida Tech, and Jungwoo Ryoo, a professor of information sciences and technology at Penn State Altoona.

Winkelmann recently led an NSF-funded study comparing general chemistry lab experiments performed in the online virtual world Second Life and in a real laboratory setting. Ryoo has also done NSF-funded research into virtual education, including studying the use of virtual worlds such as Second Life in cybersecurity education.

“Virtual reality has the potential to better engage students in science and engineering, provide better methods of instruction that improve students’ education, and reach a wider audience through distance and online learning,” Winkelmann said.

The conference, which is free to attend and open to the public, will bring together researchers, technology developers and educators interested in using virtual reality in higher education, and particularly in education pertaining to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, of STEM.

STEM educators using virtual worlds, researchers and vendors developing education-related tools and products for virtual worlds, and students, administrators, and educators interested in learning more about how virtual worlds can improve STEM education are encouraged to attend.

There will be about two dozen presentations over the course of the conference, including faculty from Florida Tech and elsewhere presenting research about using virtual reality in the classroom.

Keynote speakers include Ron Weaver, technical design director at the UCF Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, who on June 5 will offer, “Gaming the Educational System.”Also on that Monday, the National Science Foundation’s Stephanie August will discuss NSF views and funding of virtual reality in education.

On June 8, William Prensky, CEO of CNDG, a company that develops virtual learning environments (VLEs), will discuss the current state of knowledge on the impact on teaching and student experience that VLEs offer and a vision for deepening engagement. Later that day, NASA Aerospace Technologist William Little will present, “The NASA Augmented/Virtual Reality Lab: The State of the Art at KSC.”

All presentations will be in room 118 OEC in the Olin Engineering Complex on Florida Tech’s Melbourne campus.

Get the full schedule and more information at http://411.fit.edu/virtualworlds/.

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