VWBPE: OMG it worked.

Last week Mr.9 leveled up to be Mr.10 and due to a spot of good fortune we spent the week on Hamilton Island. In case you’re not sure, this is one of those paradise looking places with perfect white sandy beaches and more infinity pools that Gorden Ramsey’s got F-words. Big white yachts, the barrier reef, Nemo and old people clad in garish togas and bling. It’s not a technology zone.

This week was also the annual Best Practices in Virtual World Education extravaganza, at which I was really pleased to be asked to give a talk about gaming.

Hotel internet connectivity is generally expensive and usually rubbish. 3G is your friend – or so I was hoping. The next, more serious problem – this is a family holiday (not an excuse to geek-out in front of a screen).

At the appointed time, I connected my iPony to my Macbook which I placed inside a circle of pure white sea-salt surrounded by several vanilla smelling candles marking the compass points. To my absolute amazement, I logged into Imprudence, rezzed my avatar. Even more amazing, the genius minds at the Centre for Edupunx had hot-wired my podcast back-up recording to halo of virtual butterflies, which floated around my avatar – and the talk rolled out without a hitch.

Feeling very smug and pleased with myself I took a photo, then because I’m addicted to photo apps, give it a kind of Elvis Hawaii look. Then something struck me.

I remember when Mr10 was Mr OMG it’s a boy.

At the time, I had this Apple QuickTake camera, a Blueberry iMac hooked into a modem and a crappy webspace at OzEmail. I spent a day sticking .JPGS on the Internet and attempting to explain what the Internet was to my parents, before giving up.

Back then, most people were still amazed at txting and drooling over the idea that WAP phones could connect us to the Internet (somehow) and few people we’re using the Internet like the IV drip it has become today.

It struck me just how far we can push technology with this kind of cyborg-network today – not just to send and receive, but to be be part of the mechanic itself, because of the people that you are connecting to and through. A podcast, made with GarageBand, uploaded to DropBox and shared into a virtual world, streamed though butterflies to people from around the real world, from a virtual one – by 3G on a tiny island.

How do we even begin to describe this kind of thing to people who are still claiming they are too busy to learn to share something as basic as a Google Document. How are these people possibly going to deal with the next decade inside bricks and mortar caves.

People often say it’s not the tools, its what you do with them

I say its neither anymore – it’s the people who understand the tools your connecting with that creates the most powerful learning practice ever imagined. It seems if we can do all this from a dot of an island – it begs the question, why can’t we do it in places that are supposedly designed for it – and why are we still listening to the yeah-buts.