Earlier this month I had the opportunity to present at the 7th Annual International Conference of the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN) 2021 on my dissertation research. The entire conference took place in a virtual world hosted by Virbela. Participants were able to create an avatar, walk around the virtual conference world, attend sessions, talk to other participants live through a microphone, and allow the avatar to wave, dance, and shake hands.
For my own poster session, participants could walk up to the virtual poster and view a video that explained more about the topic of my session. Furthermore, my avatar stood next to the poster, which allowed participants to talk to me and ask questions.
I’ll be honest, it was a bizarre experience. However I actually hope these virtual worlds become the new norm for fully online conferences and perhaps collaboration. It was a great change of pace from regular Zoom meetings. And while I didn’t get to see people’s actual faces, I was still able to interact and have conversations with other participants. I was lucky enough to connect with four other participants who have similar research interests. I feel very blessed to have been chosen to present and make new connections in my Personal Learning Network (PLN).