KEYNOTE @VWBPE: Heike Philp CAMELOT and the Mists of AVALON

What a privilege to give a keynote at Virtual World Best Practise in Education VWBPE.org , Friday, 26 July 2013. At this occasion I was able to announce for the first time that we received EU funding for CAMELOT. Just think about it: a mere 7% of all of the proposals were approved.

CAMELOT stands for 'CreAting Machinima Empowers Live Online language Teaching and learning' and is due to start in December 2013. Over a period of 2 years 9 project partners will develop machinima for language learners and develop a teacher training course on how to create machinima and how to use it in class.

Here is the recording of the keynote done by MetaverseTVBusiness. Many many thanks for this high quality recording.

And here are the slides.


For the purpose of the keynote I created two machinima. 

One machinima is a mash-up of the various machinima produced for MachinEVO (CAMELOT).


The other is an interview with Lowri Mills and her students, which highlights the fantastic work Languagelab has been doing by bringing some 54,000 students into Second Life (AVALON). You will hear first hand some statements by her students and a lovely machinima which some other students produced.

I used a SpeakEasy HUD for those who do not have voice in SL and this means that the complete talk has be transcribed up front. Here is the transcript for the talk. 

May I start this presentation with an overview of the 10 years I have been working with real-time collaboration technology. In 2003 I started with a live online language school using virtual classroom technology.

Today we know this technology to be Adobe Connect, Blackboard Collaborate, WizIQ and many others.

This then led to the first EU funded project LANCELOT. LANCELOT stands for LANguage Learning with CErtified Live Online Teachers with 7 EU partners coordinated by the University of Vienna.

We developed a teacher training course for language educators.

In 2009 I started my own web conference called Virtual Round Table Web Conference, in the same year when AVALON started.

AVALON was the 2nd EU funded project which I co-initiated, this time exploring language teaching and learning in virtual worlds.

AVALON stands for Access to Virtual and Action Learning Live ONline  Again a teacher training course was developed.

Currently I am the co-owner of EduNation Islands, two sims with a community of universities, language institues and language teachers.

Also I am co-organizer of 3-day SLanguage Annual Symposium, which takes place during  and the 2-day annual web conference for teachers of German DaFWEBKON.

I think the word 'co' is now my middle name *smiles*.


Whilst I make my living with webinars and webconference at the moment, my heart is in virtual worlds.

And here is now the great big announcement: The 3rd EU funded project CAMELOT has been approved. We received this good news last week Friday.

When Letty approached me a few months ago, whether I would want to do this keynote, I knew then that we will hear about the result of our proposal in July, but it was a bit of a gamble to announce the project in the title of the talk.

In fact, only 7% of all proposals got accepted and CAMELOT is one of them.

CAMELOT is an EU funded development project starts in December 2013 and runs for 2 years. It stands for CreAting Machinima Empowers Live Online language Teaching and learning.

Is everyone here familiar what the word machinima stands for?

Machinima is the use of real-time virtual worlds and 3D video games to create a cinematic production.


The Consortium consists of 9 EU partner in 8 countries, 4 universities, 4 SMEs and 1 NGO. Coordinator is UClan, University of Centra Lancashire, Dr. Michael Thomas.


We will create a variety of machinima with a variety of language learning conversations and a variety of language levels for a variety of target groups.

Basically we will explore what kind of machinima is best suitable for which kind of learner.

We will develop a teacher training course for language educators on how to create machinima and we will also give some pedagogical guidelines on how to use machinima in class.

We very much look forward to teacher and learner content creations.


The EU gave us high points on the innovative character of the project, EU relevance and impact and there are the four reasons which the partners identified.

Teacher and Learner autonomy,  low cost productions, the need for digital material, especially moving pictures (the most powerful way of communicating learning content) and the one reason which was my personal motivating factor, the concept of what I call LIVE VIDEO. This means, that if a learner in the middle of China starts to learn how to – say – check into a hotel in English, and he may be doing this using his mobile phone, can, at the end of the day log into Second Life and teleport himself to the very location where this video was shot. He is able to practise his English there in Second Life. Where else is this possible?


What is machinima? Apologies for not adding the reference to Wikipedia on the slide.

The use of real-time computer graphics rendering engines to create a cinematic production.

Did you know that the machinima channel on youtube has 8,6 Mill subscribers and 4.3 Bill click views?

Last May, Machinima raised 35 Mill USD in a venture capital funding round led by Google, which also owns YouTube.


What led to the CAMELOT proposal is the success of MachinEVO. MachinEVO was a 5-week workshop which we offered on EduNation in January 2012 and 2013 as part of the EVO sessions.

These are organised by TESOL’s (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) CALL-IS (Computer Assisted Language Learning – Interest Section).


This is the EVO in MachinEVO – It is a global event where about 2000 English teacher spend 5 weeks in what would be called a MOOC today. It has been running in its 10th year.

What was interesting about MachinEVO is, that a) we didn’t know how to film and b) we were completely overrun by 140 teachers wanting to learn it.

Despite the fact that we mentioned with big red letters: SL experience required.

By the way, when we ran MachinEVO in 2013 we had 90 participants, many of whom were new. So all, in all about 200 language teachers took place in both workshops.


This is why we needed and called for expert advice.


A number of those who volunteered to be interviewed and who told us about hard and software, frame rates and camera control were experts both in RL as well as in SL.

We are deeply grateful for this free and open sharing spirit and learned the tips and tricks of a trade which – again in RL – would be well beyond the capability of any language teacher.


We were utterly grateful to meet Draxtor, who was part of a German TV production Login2life, Pooky Amsterdam, Natasha Randt, Fluffee and many others.


Also the complete film crew of “My Avatar and Me”, a Danish TV fantasy documentary.


In the end we conducted MachinEVO Award Ceremony, the OSCAR of language learning machinimas.

We ran this award ceremony every time and last time with a fabulously professional jury of our expert advisors.


We will now see a mash-up of the various machinimas produced for MachinEVO, only with music, no voices. All of these productions use voice. What I would like you to focus on is – whether the visuals are so powerful and of high quality. Remember, we are only language teachers. 


VIDEO 1  Machinima CAMELOT 2:02min, http://youtu.be/UqGIX9a211g, a mashup with several machima produced during MachinEVO.


Various machinima which won MachinEVO Awards are mentioned on http://tinyurl.com/2013MachinEVOawards   and http://tinyurl.com/2012MachinEVOawards


And a great delight is a machinma which I would like to bring to your attention, which is Opan Languagelab by Aurie, http://youtu.be/Yige6CiOKbw


AVALON stands for Access to Virtual and Action Learning Live ONline (2009-2010)



Project coordinator was University of Manchester, Dr. Gary Motteram. A total of 23 EU partners in 8 countries.


LANCELOT, LANguage Learning with CErtified Live Online Teachers.


To conclude this presentation and to answer your questions, I would like to mention my personal experience with Second Life.

Who of you knows the Gartner Hype Cycle? Who knows what this peak is called?


Any guesses when roughly Second Life experienced this Peak of Inflated Expectations? Around 2006/2007.

The maximum of concurrent users recorded at that time was 88+k.

And who knows what follows the Peak of Inflated Expectations?


Yes, the Trough of Disillusionment.

Roughly what time do you think we went through that one?

Well, at that time we, Dr. Randall Sadler of the University of Illinois Urbana Champagne and myself took over the two islands EduNation from the previous owner Gavin Dudeney.

Gavin wrote a condemming blog post and a gloomy picture of the future of SL.

In the same month, Lindenlab announced the abolishing of the educational rate and the residents on EduNation were depressed.

I personally felt that I had bought the Titanic.


But I just love virtual worlds so much. And I love and treasure our community on EduNation.

So we got to get working at running events and invested in the 2-years up front educational rate allowance which was still possible then.

So, what follows the Slope of Enlightenment?


The so-called Plateau of Productivity.

Well, I believe that machinima clearly are a part of this level of productivity and so are developed courses.

Events, meeting they all play a part in – either saving costs – or producing assets.

I am very grateful to Lindenlab for re-introducing the educational rate and am happy to share the second video with you now.

A video which to shows how powerful educators are in introducing their learners to Second Life. Listen closely to Lowri Mills as to how many students languagelab, which is Second Life’s largest language school introduced to SL. 


VIDEO 2 – Machinma - AVALON, 2:49min, http://youtu.be/ZPbMLKciZH0

This is my last slide and I invite you all to our 3-day SLanguages Annual Symposium at the end of September 2013.

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