Literature in Virtual Worlds conference

On August 4th, 2008, and again on August 6th, Alliance Library System, in cooperation with LearningTimes, will offer a one-day conference exploring the possibilities of using virtual worlds to teach literature and to promote its appreciation for people of all ages. The conference, titled "Stepping into Literature: Bringing New Life to Books through Virtual Worlds" will be held entirely in the virtual world of Second Life, allowing participants to attend from any location with a computer and a broadband internet connection. Cost to attend the conference is $65 USD per person. Go to the registration form and to the conference website at www.steppingintovirtualworlds.org.

"Books have been with us for millenia, from Homer to Beowulf to Harry Potter" notes John Howard, conference director and Special Projects Coordinator for Alliance. "Great literature doesn't change, but our ways of interacting with it do. What possibilities do virtual worlds offer us in sharing a love of literature? Is there value in building worlds that previously existed only in print, or in our imaginations? How can we use 3-D experiences to enhance our experience of literature?"

The conference will not be solely lecture-based, according to Howard. Instead, participants will take take part in a virtual book discussion, and take field trips into literature-based locations that have been created in Second Life. Participants may find themselves in an Edgar Allen Poe poem, visiting a "secret garden" or learning about gothic literature in an authentically spooky Gothic mansion. "They may even fall down a rabbit hole!" notes Howard. The conference will also feature one or more authors who have used virtual worlds to create, refine or promote their works. The day will conclude with a panel discussion including experts from a number of disciplines, and a social event.

"By doing this conference in Second Life, we can do more than just talk about ways to promote a love of literature in virtual worlds," says Howard. "We can see and interact with some creative and educational applications in person."

Beth Ritter-Gluth/Desideria Stockton is Second Life will be the keynote speaker and her talk is on "A Vision for Making Literature Come Alive in VIrtual Worlds.". She is the creator of Literature Alive in Second Life and teaches English and Women's Studies at Lehigh Carbon Community College in Schnecksville, PA. She is the creator and director of Literature Alive! in Second Life, founding co-chair of hte 2007 SL Best Practices in Education International Conference: Teaching, Learning, and Research, Co-Founder of the SL Virtual Orphanage and Child Sponsorship program, and co-founder of Open SLedware

The keynote author is Kim Rufer-Bach who will speak on "Using Virtual Worlds to Promote Real Life Literature." Kimberly Rufer-Bach (Kim Anubis in Second Life) is Owner, Designer and Producer of The Magicians, a 3D interactive software development company that specializes in creating innovative Second Life content. Some of her clients include the British Council, University of California Davis Medical Center, Global Kids, NASA, University of Queensland, and New York Law School. Kimberly is co-author of Creating Your World: The Official Guide to Advanced Content Creation for Second Life (Sybex, October 2007) and is currently at work on The Second Life Grid: The Official Guide to Communication Collaboration, and Community Engagement. Her online community management experience includes the roles of Community Forums Coordinator for There, and special events moderator and Editors Forum Host for iUniverse.com on AOL and the Web. She was on the team that
created the best-selling educational computer game First Men in the Moon Math

(Fisher-Price) in the mid-1980s. Publishing credits include articles, columns, non-fiction for children, and fiction. Kimberly garnered recommendations for the 1995 Bram Stoker Award for the novella "Daddy's Girl," which appeared in Adventures in the Twilight Zone (Ed. Carol Serling, DAW Books, Inc)

Alliance has partnered with LearningTimes to put on this conference. In addition to helping organize the conference, LearningTimes is setting up the technology for individuals and groups to participate in the conference without having to create a Second Life account. "For those who haven't done it, Second Life can take a little getting used to" notes John Walber, CEO of LearningTimes. "We have had great success this year in providing 'simulcasts' of events in second life, essentially, looking over the shoulder of a participant." Walber notes that this should make attendance easier for more people. While not quite as "immersive," the solution is highly interactive, and creates a recording for later playback Conference organizers will also provide an orientation for those who would like to attend the conference in Second Life, but have no prior experience with the program.

LearningTimes and Alliance have created an ongoing on-line community for participants in this and future conferences. Within this community registrants will have access to conference recordings, contribute to on-going discussions, and network with other interested people from around the world after the conference is over.

Full conference schedule and registration information is available at the conference website, www.steppingintovirtualworlds.org or people may contact John Howard directly at 309.694.9200.

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