Open Letter to ISTE, ISTE VEN (and anyone else who is interested)

I have a little announcement I want to share. 

Let me just say it: I “resign” from any and all leadership positions in ISTE and in ISTE Virtual Environments Network. When my membership to ISTE expires in May, I do not intend to renew it. I wish the best of everything to everyone--members, leadership, staff, and administration. Lots of friends. Lots. Lots of dear memories. And all the best to ISTE VEN. Take off, y’all, take off and soar. You have some passionate and capable leaders still, focused on the future of XR (all new things 3D and alternate reality).

Over the past two plus decades, I’ve enjoyed participating in and enriching my life with my membership to the International Society for Technology and Education. The thing that I enjoyed the absolute most about those conferences was the coming together, in a different city every summer, of thousands, and increasingly more thousands of educators, technologists, vendors, and media professionals--all in the service of exploring how to serve, grow, and nurture our children’s learning through technology. 

I met so many dedicated educators at those conferences, and I have carried them with me throughout the years (as they carried me) while we pursued sometimes very parallel paths. I met some very close friends at the legendary ISTE Island in Second Life. All the friends I met at ISTE converged annually at the in-person conferences. There was always a powerful feeling of reunion that struck like lightning when I would meet a colleague at the conference who I had grown to know in SL. I’ve always said there should be a word for that feeling but I never got around to coining it.

A group of us formed the Virtual Environments Network, created in order to explore and celebrate the possibilities of using virtual worlds for learning and teaching in a mainstream way. But with all our hard work, it has consistently felt, year to year, as though realization of those extremely promising models for meeting, learning, and teaching was always hanging just below the upswing of the bell curve of adoption. Things got in the way: Second Life’s dismantling of its own educational support community, the dissolution of the Teen Grid, educators and school administrators’ aggravating addiction to “the way we’ve always done it.” ISTE's funding support dwindled in stages. It finally disappeared.

An announcement went out to the 500 members of the SL Group, ISTE Virtual Environments Network this morning. ISTE VEN in Second Life will shut down at the end of April, 2021. As far as Second Life is concerned, I will still attend some educational events, but I will lead them no more. 

Hugs, smiles, and waves, ISTE.To quote a classic Tom Waits song, Marie, “I loved you the first time I saw you. And I always will always love you…”

Peace Out. 

All the best, always,

Scott/Scottmerrick Oh


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