Last week I participated in four different events as part of Melbourne Knowledge Week. It was the fifth year that this event brought together entrepreneurs, designers, artists, tech geeks and experts in the fields of arts, science, medicine, business and the community.
This year I decided to focus on my main goal and that was to learn something completely different. For those who know me, I’m not really a gamer. Sure, I’ve dabbled in them and I have my fair share of gadgets and tech toys and a nice collection of PS2, PS3, PS4, Nintendo games and cupboards full of board games. But am I enthused and passionate about them? No, not really. For me, it’s all about the experience. If I want to relax, I’d much rather pick up my knitting than play a game but that’s just me. Everyone has preferences – this is mine. However, I do love to see other people’s passions in games and observe how they learn and interact with the game elements and the other players.
I’ve watched my young nephew play Minecraft and then teach me the game himself. While he taught me and pointed out certain things on the screen, what tools I should be using, what buildings I should be making, I couldn’t help but wonder how games inspire some people and what they can learn from them to apply back in real life.
So my main aim was simple: Have a Go on an Occulus Rift.
Surely, somewhere, somehow, there was going to be an Occulus Rift on show sometime during Melbourne’s Knowledge Week?
My secondary aim was to learn more about this “Collaborative Movement”. We hear a lot about the importance of collaboration and there are many events around Knowledge Creation popping up as part of government and community initiatives where ideas are sourced from the public to create different outcomes. I wanted to learn how they distill all the “talk” into effective dialogue and actions as sometimes these events turn out to be “talkfests” where the forum is there for people to get on their hobby horses and vent their frustrations and not be willing to be part of the solution.
My first event was the RMIT Showcase of Interactive Technologies at the futuristic RMIT Design Hub. I spoke with Computer Scientists on their research projects that related to Big Data, Mobile Technologies, Remote Monitoring and the Internet of Things. The range of projects I was interested in was related around simulated environments for training and responding to disasters with one of the projects already working with DSTO (Defence Science and Technology Office) to create a simulated submarine environment that allows military personnel to make tactical decisions.
My second event was the Collaborative Knowledge Creation Forum which was described as a “digitally enhanced and interactive workshop” by CollabForge.
I found this workshop interesting and educational. The presenter, Hailey Cooperrider talked about how knowledge is created and scaled up when many people are involved, and used examples of an Eco project that her team worked on as part of a government initiative with the community. I was interested in how she used certain elements of the knowledge capture using smart devices to collate responses onto the big screen.
During the session, we worked on three questions which we answered as a group. She created a Google Form which we accessed the URL through our devices. As we submitted our responses, the group responses were collated onto the big screen; then using a Word Cloud generator, automatically created a summarised version of the collection of people’s responses into a one paragraph – coherent – sentence. I particularly liked this session because she had demonstrated how to use tools to capture the knowledge in ‘real time’ and it was there – evident – for everyone to see, edit in real time, confirm and commit to actions. It also gave me another connection for a service to use and offer to my clients if they are looking at ways to capture knowledge and create actions at their next conference or event.
My third event was back at the RMIT Design Hub for the Exploring Potentials of Virtual Reality – and finally I got to play with Occulus Rift!
(For those who enter the futuristic Design Hub, finding the actual room where this event was held was a game designer’s dream – or MY nightmare. And, I swear that building is alive – there’s a constant hum you hear when you’re in it. It feels like you’re trapped in some giant concrete and glass beehive and you can’t see the outside world. You can walk around in circles trying to find either the toilets or the rooms where you’re supposed to go all which are all located behind secret floor to ceiling panels in the centre of the building). You find yourself walking into some freaky spaces and then sometimes you run into people in the corridors sitting quietely at their laptops doing work and they just curiously look up at you from their computers and oblivious to your navigational pains. That building FEELS like you’re in a real life computer game!!!. But I digress…. See what I mean here…
So, Occulus Rift! The 3 hour workshop I attended was various presenters talking about virtual reality games and Second Life was also mentioned. (I thought Second Life had died away a long time ago but no, it’s still hanging on!). I had the feeling that many people just wanted the presentations to quickly finish so that they could play on Occulus Rift. (Or was that just me?) There were four “stations” set up and we were all split into groups to try out this piece of kit and I wasn’t disappointed – even without my glasses on. I cursed myself for not wearing my contact lenses on this day because you can’t wear the Rift with glasses on (uncomfortable). However, despite my myopia, the graphics were still close enough for me to experience the game. If you haven’t experienced this, then I encourage you to give it a go when you get a chance!
The last event was a workshop on “Collaborative School Day” at the Melbourne Hub (a co-working space) facilitated by The CoLearners and it was a last minute decision to attend as I believed it may provide me with ideas that can be used in my client work and of course, to meet others to network. The day was split into three sessions but I was interested in the Open Panel discussion on “The Future of Learning” where Councillor Jacqui Watts and a couple of others who were challenging the current education system which didn’t allow learners to engage or collaborate. The last session was on “co-creating the community” and we worked in groups to brainstorm some ideas of what CoLearn can do to create these collaborative spaces for students to learn. One of the things that I enjoyed with this workshop was that it was facilitated by young people who were in the middle of their last year of schooling and who set up their business. If I was as confident and assured as they were when I was 16, who knows where I would be right now. It was refreshing to be in a workshop where all ages, generations could contribute and participate.
Overall, I had a great experience at Melbourne Knowledge Week and met many interesting people from all walks of life across the Melbourne community. I look forward to what 2015 will now hold!