Immersive Education Initiative 2011 Boston Summit Keynote Overview

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BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11, 2011 - The Immersive Education Initiative today announced that Dr. Daniel Laughlin, NASA Learning Technologies project manager, will be the opening keynote at the Immersive Education 2011 Boston Summit (iED 2011) this May. Laughlin's keynote address, described below, examines the current and rapid transition from "virtual" to "immersive" education.

iED 2011 BOSTON SUMMIT KEYNOTE : NASA LEARNING TECHNOLOGIES : Daniel LaughlinDr. Laughlin leads research and development efforts on virtual worlds and games in education in NASA Education.

Laughlin is the author of Overcoming Objections to MUVEs (Multi-User Virtual Environments) in Education in Vincenti and Braman’s Teaching through Multi-User Virtual Environments: Applying Dynamic Elements to the Modern Classroom (2010).

He also co-authored the NASA eEducation Roadmap: Research Challenges in the Design of Persistent Immersive Synthetic Environments for Education & Training (2007).

Laughlin is the project lead for Moonbase Alpha, an award-winning, free, multiplayer, online STEM inspiration game based on NASA’s lunar architecture. At iED 2011 Moonbase Alpha will officially become a Rocket World learning module. Rocket World is a comprehensive immersive learning framework and core immersive STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) curricula designed to inspire and educate a new generation of scientists, engineers and researchers through the novel application of next-generation learning technology. The Immersive Education Initiative launched Rocket World on the 40th anniversary of the first moonwalk, making the space-themed immersive learning system freely available to all levels of teachers, students, scientists, engineers and researchers worldwide.


Quote In the first decade of the new century there was a quiet battle over how to label immersive digital environments. In the first half of the 2000s, massively multiplayer online games were a tiny niche market where a reported quarter million EverQuest subscribers was a nearly unimaginable number. Virtual worlds were a novelty. In just a decade, shared, online, digital spaces have gone from fringe to mainstream. Along the way, the term “virtual worlds” became the umbrella term most frequently used to describe these types of collaborative, networked, pixilated places. Unfortunately, the term "virtual" has a host of other interpretations that have nothing to do with persistent, immersive synthetic environments.

There is a wonderful sentence on the Immersive Education Initiative homepage: “Unlike traditional computer-based learning systems, Immersive Education is designed to immerse and engage students in the same way that today’s best video games grab and keep the attention of players.” Replace “computer-based learning” with “virtual learning” and the tension between virtual and immersive becomes apparent. Immersive is more descriptive, but virtual has become the much more common term of reference.

Policy bodies and national organizations now talk about games, virtual worlds and mobile computing seriously. We are a long way from the days when terms like "immersive synthetic environments" had to be explained anew to each audience. The general public now supports virtual worlds, 3D games and immersive platforms as educational tools. The average virtual school doesn't look anything like today's most popular virtual worlds or World of Warcraft, but more people, especially students, are starting to ask "why not?"

The term virtual is automatically interpreted to mean immersive by more people than ever before. This is a vital shift necessary to drive education toward fully tapping the power of virtual worlds.

Daniel Laughlin, Ph.D.
NASA Learning Technologies
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

iED 2011 Overview

The world's leading experts in virtual worlds, learning games, educational simulations, and mixed/augmented reality convene May 13-15 in Boston for iED 2011. Attendance is open to the global education community.

Immersive Education : iED Summit : 2011 Boston

iED Summits are official Immersive Education Initiative conferences organized specifically for educators, researchers, and administrators.

iED Summits consist of presentations, panel discussions, break-out sessions and workshops that provide attendees with an in-depth overview of immersive learning platforms, technologies and cutting-edge research from around the world. These unique events feature new and emerging virtual worlds, learning games, educational simulations, mixed/augmented reality, and related teaching tools, techniques, technologies, standards and best practices.

iED 2011 will feature The Education Grid (TEG), Rocket World, Open Wonderland, realXtend, Open Cobalt, Open Simulator, immersive CAVES and DOMES, mixed/augmented reality, and freely available open source alternatives to Second Life. Members of the Initiative's open file format, library, psychology, mixed reality, and K-12 (kindergarten through high school) groups will give special presentations and workshops at the Summit. iED 2011 will also feature special sessions and presentations by iED Europe, iED Oregon, and iED Kansas (chapters of the Immersive Education Initiative).

Thousands of Members Worldwide

The Immersive Education Initiative is a non-profit international collaboration of universities, colleges, research institutes, consortia and companies that are working together to define and develop open standards, best practices, platforms, and communities of support for virtual reality and game-based learning and training systems. Thousands of faculty, teachers, researchers, staff, administrators and students are members of the Immersive Education Initiative.


About Immersive Education
Immersive Education ( combines interactive 3D graphics, commercial game and simulation technology, virtual reality, voice chat (Voice over IP/VoIP), Web cameras (webcams) and rich digital media with collaborative online course environments and classrooms. Immersive Education gives participants a sense of "being there" even when attending a class or training session in person isn't possible, practical, or desirable, which in turn provides educators and students with the ability to connect and communicate in a way that greatly enhances the learning experience. Unlike traditional computer-based learning systems, Immersive Education is designed to immerse and engage students in the same way that today's best video games grab and keep the attention of players. Immersive Education supports self-directed learning as well as collaborative group-based learning environments that can be delivered over the Internet or using fixed-media such as CD-ROM and DVD. Shorter mini-games and interactive lessons can be injected into larger bodies of course material to further heighten and enrich the Immersive Education experience.

About the Media Grid
The Media Grid is a public utility for digital media. Based on new and emerging distributed computational grid technologies, the Media Grid builds upon existing Internet and Web standards to create a unique network optimized for digital media delivery, storage, and processing. As an on-demand public computing utility, a range of software programs and Web sites can use the Media Grid for delivery and storage of rich media content, media processing, and computing power. The Media Grid is an open and extensible platform that enables a wide range of applications not possible with the traditional Internet alone, including: Massive Media on Demand (MMoD); Interactive digital cinema on demand; Immersive Education and distance learning; Truly immersive multiplayer games and Virtual Reality (VR); Hollywood movie and film rendering, special effects, and composition; Real-time rendering of high resolution graphics; Real-time visualization of complex weather patterns; Real-time protein modeling and drug design; Telepresence, telemedicine, and telesurgery; Vehicle and aircraft design and simulation; Visualization of scientific and medical data.

The Grid Institute leads the design and development of the global Media Grid through the open standards organization in collaboration with industry, academia, and governments from around the world.

To learn more about the Media Grid, Immersive Education or the Education Grid visit:, and