Missoula, Montana, USA and Llanberis, Wales, UK – In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN) has made the decision to host its IEEE technically co-sponsored annual conference for 2020 fully online and in virtual reality (VR), supported by a number of other software platforms. iLRN will offer this conference, now in its sixth year, in conjunction with Educators in VR, the organizers of the highly successful Educators in VR International Summit that was held in VR in February of this year, which included over 170 speakers and attracted over 6,000 event attendees.
The iLRN Annual Conference is the premier scholarly event focusing on advances in the use of VR as well as augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and other extended reality (XR) technologies to support learners across the full span of learning—from K-12 through higher education to work-based, informal, and lifelong learning contexts. iLRN 2020 had been slated to take place at the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, California, USA from June 21 to 25. The conference dates remain the same despite the shift to the virtual format, though the deadline has been extended for work-in-progress academic papers as well as for practitioner presentations, workshops, panels, and special sessions to April 19, 2020.
The iLRN Board of Directors and the iLRN 2020 Conference Committee made the decision to move to a virtual-only conference following several months of deliberation and consultation with the local organizing team at Cal Poly, and in accordance with advice from the California Department of Public Health. The Board also resolved to host next year’s conference in person at Cal Poly, thereby resulting in a postponement of the planned iLRN 2021 Conference in Vienna, Austria to 2022.
“We’ve been pushing the envelope to incorporate XR capacity at our conference and across our network,” said Jonathon Richter, President and CEO of iLRN. “Our audiences in computer science, educational technology, game studies, and the learning sciences are generally accustomed to everyday working with emerging technology for practical purposes. Though the current global health situation is horrifying and deeply problematic, we believe that by partnering with Educators in VR, who have established themselves as pioneers and leaders in VR event management, we can do something that will truly stand as an example of what’s possible today with the affordances of XR technology. It will also give scholars, educators, and others the opportunities they desire for connecting with others working at the cutting-edge of XR for learning, but without putting their lives or the lives of others at risk.”
Daniel Dyboski-Bryant, Co-Founder of Educators in VR, said, “We are incredibly excited not only to be working with ILRN on their first fully-virtual conference, but also about our partnership with them going forward. We are ideal counterparts and joining forces like this really amplifies our individual and collective efforts. ILRN brings the academic rigour and evidence based research, while Educators in VR brings the front line educators on the ground interacting with learners virtually and in classrooms all over the world.”
Mark J. W. Lee, Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer of iLRN, said, “The ongoing coronavirus crisis has given us not just an opportunity but an imperative to show how we, as the professed experts in applying XR and immersive technologies for learning and collaboration, are able to ‘walk the walk’ rather than just ‘talking the talk.’ We are committed to ensuring the move to fully online is designed purposefully, leveraging the capabilities of social VR and other online collaboration tools in ways that are suitable for meaningful engagement and professional networking among participants to promote the sharing of high-quality scientific research and evidence-based practice.”
Dennis Beck, Vice President for Conferences of iLRN, said, “We are excited to be hosting the iLRN 2020 conference in virtual reality because that is what we do – seek out, innovate, and share the evidence and potential for immersive learning. We are looking forward to gathering experts in research and practice in VR on how to use VR. We have extended the due date to April 19th so that those who couldn’t come to the in person conference will still have time to submit now!”
Dyboski-Bryant added, “We hope to give people a first-hand taste of our joint work at the upcoming iLRN conference, where leading academic researchers in the field of Immersive Learning from around the world will be meeting, sharing and collaborating in VR. We will be training many of their speakers, who are experts in delivering presentations in the real world to present impactfully in VR. Presenting in-world requires a new set of skills, but also allows for exciting new interactions.
“The field of education in and with VR and immersive learning is still relatively new, although iLRN has been cultivating high quality XR-for-learning research since its inception in 2014; there is so much important work to be done. Research without application can be empty. Delivery without research can be unfocused and ineffective. Together we can accelerate and increase impact for the industry and most importantly for learners around the world,” said Educators in VR Co-Founder Lorelle VanFossen.
For more information about the iLRN 2020 Conference, please visit https://immersivelrn.org/ilrn2020/ (This site will be updated to reflect the new format and arrangements in the coming days.)
About the Immersive Learning Research Network
The Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN—pronounced i-Learn) is a global, interdisciplinary network that brings together educators, technologists, and researchers to collaborate on developing the scientific, technical, and applied potential of XR and immersive technologies for supporting learning across a range of sectors and contexts. It seeks to foster a worldwide community of scholarship and practice, founded on the principles of open science and open design, aimed at leveraging this potential for the good of our planet and its inhabitants. iLRN aims to aggressively use this vision as a way for us to address challenges facing humanity.
Following its establishment in 2014, iLRN’s flagship conference has rotated annually between North America and Europe, and it has rapidly gained a reputation as the leading scholarly gathering in its field. The iLRN 2020 conference is technically co-sponsored by IEEE, enabling submission of the conference proceedings for inclusion in the prestigious IEEE Xplore® Digital Library.
In 2019, iLRN introduced a second flagship offering to complement its annual conference, in the form of the State of XR and Immersive Learning project, which combines a systematic review and synthesis of the research knowledge and evidence base on “what works” in XR and immersive learning with a Delphi-inspired environmental scanning and forecasting exercise in the vein of the well-known Horizon project. The inaugural iLRN State of XR and Immersive Learning Report is planned for release in Q2 2020. The project has received sponsorships from HP, Unity Technologies, Adobe, Dassault Systèmes, zSpace, and SpringboardVR.
About Educators in VR
Educators in VR is an open, global, cross-platform community of educators, researchers, and trainers exploring and collaborating with and in virtual and augmented reality. Educators in VR is the connective tissue between academia and businesses in the VR education industry with members from around the world. Educators in VR is dedicated to providing educational events, training, and workshops for educators and learners to prepare them for the future of spatial technologies in education, offering weekly workshops in AltspaceVR and other platforms featuring key educators, trainers, and developers in VR, AR, XR, and MR technology and education. They produced the ground-breaking and record-breaking 2020 Educators in VR International Summit in February, bringing educators, students, and researchers together to present in an all virtual conference.