Host Organization: Clever Zebra
Specialization: Fully immersive virtual environments
When an organization sets up a fully immersive virtual environment alongside a face-to-face meeting, the objective is to extend the live gathering in every possible way: by bringing onsite and online participants together, sharing knowledge and ideas across a continent or around the world, opening new channels for person-to-person interaction, and creating a platform that can continue after onsite participants go home.
How Does It Change the World?
The immersive environment in use at MPI’s 2010 World Education Congress shows the evolution and growing maturity of virtual world technology.
Until recently, “virtual worlds have meant large file downloads and seriously clunky interfaces,” said Nick Wilson of Clever Zebra, producers of the online community for #WEC10. By contrast, “the solution we’re using for WEC runs right out of a participant’s Web browser and offers simple, ‘point and click’ functions.” The result is that virtual attendees can be fully immersed in the experience “without having to learn a whole bunch of complex new stuff.”
Virtual environments can be used for promotional mini-events running up to a physical meeting, or as a hybrid addition that mixes virtual and live sessions. The platforms can also provide a welcoming, water cooler-style environment for participants who want to continue the conversation after the meeting ends.
Why Does It Matter?
The value of onsite is well established, but “online is a different story,” Wilson said. “Being able to actively engage with virtual and physical attendees with true spatial voice and a ‘really there’ feel has to be experienced to be understood, but the results are amazing.” While “you could never replace true face-to-face,” he said immersive environments are the next best thing for participants who can’t get onsite.