Ever since the last few months of the SLENZ project last year, we have been hoping that we would be able to keep the team together in some way and make good use of all the good things we learnt and the skills we acquired. Being a group of educators and virtual world enthusiasts scattered throughout New Zealand the obvious way to do that was virtually but we also needed an RL presence that would allow us to chase funding and gather donations.
Virtual Life Education New Zealand more usually known as VLENZ was conceived by the SLENZ team members and supporters as the natural successor to our successful project. Thanks to the generosity of NMIT, we were able to pay the necessary fees to establish VLENZ Inc as an incorporated society which had its first AGM tonight. Now the officers are confirmed we can register for charitable status which should be forthcoming in a few weeks.
We knew from the beginning that VLENZ would need to operate primarily within the virtual environment and various changes to the standard incorporated society rules were made to recognise that society members would meet as avatars rather than face to face – quite a challenge! At the AGM which I chaired tonight we needed to ensure that all the records were kept according to our rules, particularly those concerning attendance and confirming that the avatar truly represented an RL individual who was a voting VLENZ member. At the same time of course we had to protect the privacy of our avatar members in line with the SL Terms of Service. I think we achieved it and I am left wondering how many others have been faced with this challenge and what their experiences have been.
But it has been worth it! We now have an officially constituted society that is committed to exploring, supporting, mentoring, advising New Zealanders on as many aspects of education in MUVEs as we can manage. We have a broad skill set, a ton of experience and cartloads of enthusiasm and we are ready to boldly go! But most of all we share a common sense that the use of multi -user virtual environments will change forever the ways in which we teach and learn.