Hollywood Studios Embrace Cinematic VR


A 100 years after they began telling stories on film, the movie business is rapidly embracing the virtual reality wave to move beyond telling stories and into creating immersive storytelling experiences.

Currently, major Hollywood studios like Lionsgate, Warner Brothers, Disney and 20th Century are creating virtual reality studio divisions looking at how they can incorporate virtual reality into the filmmaking process to create immersive experiences through film.

Disney Studios is especially is bullish on the possibilities of VR films, recently investing $65 million into virtual reality hardware and content startup, Jaunt.

Every major studio is testing the VR waters, with small scale projects run for popular franchise such Warner Bros ‘Batman vs Superman’, Fox’s ‘The X-Man’ and ‘How to Train Your Dragon.

This trend towards virtual reality infused entertainment is also being fueled by Facebook forming a virtual reality movie studio, staffed by former creatives from Pixar and Lucasfilm, to explore how its own virtual reality (and 360 degree video) technology, powered by Oculus, can be used to create immersive and emotionally driven story experiences.

Read the entire story over on Medium.com/@derekeb


Welcome to Mars: Virtual Reality in the Classroom

Vr-mars-experience-for-schoolsThere’s some very cool stuff happening out there with virtual reality in education! I've covered some of these classroom VR experiences in other posts, but Welcome to Mars---a new VR program for schools, created by Lockheed Martin, is among the coolest!

“The first people who will visit Mars are sitting in a school today. In fact, the first astronauts will arrive before today’s kindergartners graduate college. To help inspire these students, Lockheed Martin created a one-of-a-kind virtual reality experience.

The Mars Experience Bus is the first immersive VR vehicle ever built and it replicates the Martian landscape. Riders experience a virtual drive along the surface of the Red Planet.”





It's Approved! New Kids & Social Media Patent!

Derek.e.baird.patent.socialmedia.disneyOne of the patents I worked on while at The Walt Disney Company (TWDC), Dynamic Trust Score for Evaluating Ongoing Online Relationships, was just approved by the U.S. Patent Office! It was a team effort and centers around kids, privacy and social media. I've included a copy of the full patent below!



A method is provided for a dynamic trust score for evaluating ongoing online relationships. By considering a plurality of user data variables and using validation data from internal and external database sources, a trust score with a high degree of confidence may be provided for establishing and verifying online relationships.

Since the trust score may be dynamically recalculated periodically or on demand, the trust score may also validate over continuing periods of time, as opposed to conventional verification systems that only validate at a single point in time.

Thus, a higher degree of safety, reliability, and control is provided for online services directed towards children or other user classes that may require greater protection.


 Dynamic Trust Score for Evaulating Ongoing Online Relationships by Derek E. Baird on Scribd


Itsokaytotalk.dbairdThe leading cause of death for men under 45 in the UK is suicide. In the US, males take their own lives at nearly four times the rate of females and represent 77.9% of all suicides.

Men who contemplated suicide reported that they felt they couldn't talk about their feelings. Let's show men all across the world that #ITSOKAYTOTALK!

Take a selfie with the 👌🏽 sign, tag 5 friends and let's get the message out that it's okay to talk. Hopefully, working together we can bring these numbers down!

If you're in the U.S. and you need to talk, Crisis Text Line is a free service that is available 24/7 365 days a year. To connect with a crisis counselor at Crisis Text Line: Text START TO 741-741


Related Links

REPORT: Ads and Media Contribute to Boys' Body Image Pressure

Ken1Credos, the advertising industry think tank, surveyed 1,005 boys from primary and secondary schools around the UK to explore their attitudes towards advertising and body image; focus groups with boys aged 8 to 18 and with teachers, youth leaders and parents added to understanding the roots, effects and solutions to boys' body confidence.

This report focuses on the way male models are portrayed in advertising and the media – particularly, whether boys are aware of digitally enhanced imagery and whether this impacts their behavior. 

The subsequent report, Picture of Health?, revealed that 53% of boys felt advertising was a major source of pressure to look good; only social media (57%) and friends (68%) exerted more influence, while celebrities (49%) were slightly less persuasive.

"This new research shows boys are increasingly worried about their appearance," said Karen Fraser, Credos director.

"We have to recognise that advertising and the wider media play some part in shaping how young people feel about themselves – both positively and negatively."

Key Insights

  • And while most (80%) were aware of image-manipulation in the media, most appeared to associate this with the female form, as the study reported that they were surprised at the extent to which male images are altered

  • Two thirds (67%) said it was not acceptable for brands to use digital techniques to change the body image of a model in their advertising

  • But some secondary school-age boys (aged 11 to 18) suggested the way media portray men in their images could be healthy (33%) or even aspirational (22%)
  • More generally, the study found that boys hold advertising in high regard, with 73% of secondary school boys agreeing that ads are important in letting them know about products

  •  69% of 16-18 year olds said they had tried new products after seeing an advertisement

  • Around one in four (42%) boys who thought the male images they saw were realistic also believed there is a "perfect body" to strive for, compared with just 16% of those who think male images are unrealistic

Picture of Health: Boys, Advertising and Body Image by Derek E. Baird via Advertising Association

Trend Watch: 60 Million Teens Going Crazy for Musical.ly App

Musically.app.teensMove over Vine and Instagram! Musica.ly is the newest hot app among teens and tweens. How big? Nearly 60 million t/weens are using musica.ly to make their own music videos.

And like Vine and Instagram, teens are using musica.ly to become Internet stars and amass huge followings. 

Watch as "Muser" star Baby Ariel joined GMA to explain to the appeal of the app and teach the hosts how to make a musical.ly video.


Using Virtual Reality as a Pathway to Learning

Virtual-reality-in-the-classroomVirtual Reality as a Pathway to Learning

“Sharing knowledge is a lovely thing.”Jamie Oliver, The Naked Chef

In my previous blog post, I outlined how technologies like virtual reality, especially for Gen Z students, provides avenues that allow them to engage in a social, collaborative, and active learning environment.

The theory of constructivist-based learning is even more powerful when placed in a social and immersive and spatial context like that provided by virtual reality.

Under this new “
digital pedagogy” learners tend to construct knowledge via self-directed and collaborative project based learning (PBL) activities, forming social learning communities, and technologies such as Oculus Rift headsets and virtual reality platforms like MissionV and Google Expeditions.


As students go through process of choosing, utilizing, and integrating technology into their projects, it provides opportunities for them to be actively engaged, as well as acquire, share, and make use of community knowledge and showcase their skill sets and contributions.

“What it [VR] offers as a tool for creating worlds and experimenting with some of the ideas underpinning logic and programming that make it exciting — together with the incredible community of users and their creations.” -Tom Chatfield

In addition, collaborative and interactive projects undertaken in a community structure allow students to interact with other members of the class, identify who has a particular skill or expertise they want to acquire, and provides opportunities for them to model and scaffold this knowledge with their peers.

Constructing the Future of Virtual Reality Learning

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.” --Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In an evaluation report on the MissionV Schools Pilot Programme in Ireland,  Dr. Conor Galvin, a professor at University College School of Education, found that the use of virtual reality technology in the classroom showed real benefit in tackling students’ social issues.

For example, Galvin points out that the students struggling to being included in their classroom, were able to become accepted by their peers because of their technology skills. Integrating the virtual reality project into the curriculum allowed for shy students ‘come out of their shells’ and boost confidence in students who were previously lacking in confidence in their maths skills.

One thing is clear, as Gen Z move from the classroom to the workforce, it will be increasingly important to deepen our understanding of these burgeoning digital learning styles and prepare educational and training programs (online and off) to meet their learning styles.

If the future for education is going to involve virtual reality, how exactly can virtual reality technology make an impact on the learning process? While in many ways we are just getting started using VR in the classroom, the future is here and it will be exciting to see where it takes us!

The Social Life of Virtual Reality Learning Environments


The Social Life of Virtual Learning

Perhaps our generation focused on information, but these kids focus on meaning -- how does information take on meaning?" - John Seeley Brown

Early in their seminal work on knowledge management and social learning--The Social Life of Information, John Seeley Brown and Paul Duguid, point out that, “learning requires more than just information, but also the ability to engage in the practice.”

Brown/Duguid further illustrate the active nature of learning by outlining the (action-oriented) steps required for a “newbie” to effectively utilize, integrate, and understand a knowledge base existent within a Community of Practice (CoP) or learning community:

  • Become a member of a community
  • Engage in its practice
  • Acquire and make use of its knowledge

When learners fail to be actively “engaged in the practice” they will, in turn, be excluded from the “local topography” of the practice, as well as the opportunity to “understand the CoP from the inside out”—both of which are crucial in the transformation of information into meaning.

Actively Constructing Knowledge in Virtual Reality Learning Environments
Shifts in students’ learning style will prompt a shift to active construction of knowledge through mediated immersion.”-Chris Dede

Constructivist-based learning, according to Dr. Seymour Papert, “is grounded in the idea that people learn by actively constructing new knowledge, rather than having information 'poured' into their heads.”

Moreover, constructionism asserts that people learn with particular effectiveness when they are engaged in constructing personally meaningful artifacts (such as computer programs, animations, 3D modeling, virtual reality or robots)."

Technologies like virtual reality, especially for Gen Z students', provides avenues that allow them to engage in a social, collaborative, and active learning environment. The theory of constructivist-based learning is even more powerful when placed in a social and immersive context like that provided by virtual reality.

Virtual reality, especially when combined with storytelling, allows the student to participate in the story, develop empathy to experiences outside their current realm of understanding and allows them to be fully immersed in their own exploration and learning.

"The experience of participating in a story, as teller or audience, is typically that of being caught up in it while it is being told...Stories convey meaning about the social context and identity of the teller and audience. However, stories also have an effect on that identity and context." --John McLeod


How Irish Students Use VR in the Classroom
“...students are eager and excited about the project, queuing outside the classroom door in the morning.” -St. Kieran Principal Esther Lambe

Students at St. Kieran’s, a school in the Irish town of Broughal, recently went on a field trip to Clonmacnoise, a nearby site with historic ruins. Nothing unusual or exceptional about that, right? This sort of thing happens in schools around the world, right? But wait--there’s more!

What makes this school field trip unusual is what the students did when they came back to the classroom. The students, part of a virtual reality pilot program in Irish schools, used the MissionV platform to create a virtual model of the Clonmacnoise in OpenSim and then viewed it using Oculus Rift headsets.


A key element of course design that is often overlooked: designing opportunities (both digital and analog) for students to create social bonds (through interaction) is equally as important as the course content or technology used in a project based learning activity.

In this virtual Clonmacnoise example, these 10-12 year old students utilized both technology (maths, scripting, 3D modeling, programming), creative (archaeology, history, design) and social skills (project management, collaboration, face-to-face interaction) in a constructivist-based project to create a virtual reality experience.

“What it [VR] offers as a tool for creating worlds and experimenting with some of the ideas underpinning logic and programming that make it exciting — together with the incredible community of users and their creations.” -Tom Chatfield

In short, all learning is rooted in relationships. Not technology. Social interaction will continue to be at the heart of any effective constructivist-based or virtual learning environment. I'll explain more about how to use virtual reality as a pathway to learning in my next blog post.

 Related: Top Educational Virtual Reality Apps for Education (via medium.com/@derekeb)

YA Book Review: Dumplin by Julie Murphy


Dumplin’ Will Steal Your Heart

YA author Julie Murphy’s writing shows a deep understanding of creating characters and a stories that readers will care deeply about.

Anyone who picks up this book, but most importantly teen readers, will relate to the main character Willowdean’s insecurities and learn how to get past their own.

This charming novel has a big dose of West Texas culture, a deep appreciation of the master storyteller Dolly Parton, and a wildly unforgettable heroine — Dumplin’ is a stunning debut novel.

Read the entire review over on Medium.com/derekeb

Josh Shipp: The Power of One Caring Adult


Recently, Josh gave a TED talk which serves as a call to action for all adults to intentionally invest time with a kid.

Your kid. Your neighbor. Your nephew.

Take 15 minutes out of your day to watch and listen to Josh share his story. Learn how you can be the caring adult that changes the life of a kid.

  Originally posted on Medium.com/derekeb

  Josh Shipp: The Power of One Caring Adult

Why Reading Your Kids A Bedtime Story is the Key to Literacy

The childhood tradition of a bedtime story is in serious peril, as experts warn that parents are not making the time to read to their children at the end of the working day and stop reading to them at too young an age.  image from 1.bp.blogspot.com

A recent survey, by YouGov for the children’s publisher Scholastic, revealed last week that many parents stop reading to their children when they become independent readers, even if the child isn’t ready to lose their bedtime story.

The study found that 83% of children enjoyed being read aloud to, with 68% describing it as a special time with their parents. (“It felt so warm, so spirit-rising,” as one 11-year-old boy put it.)

One in five of the parents surveyed stopped reading aloud to their children before the age of nine, and almost a third of children aged six to 11 whose parents had stopped reading aloud to them wanted them to carry on.