In 2014, the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Organizational Committee instituted a new personal achievement award to recognize an individual who has provided outstanding service to both the field of education and the virtual world community at large.

The Thinkerer Award is presented to an individual whose deeds and actions have shown a consistent selfless service towards the promotion of learning, community, educational practices, and who exemplifies the spirit of cooperative development within immersive environments.

Recipients of this award are not simply outstanding professionals in their field. Award recipients must characterize transformational leadership qualities to:

  • envision and guide change;
  • enhance the motivation, morale, and performance of both peers and pupils;
  • promote best practices and continuous improvement; and
  • inspire others through their words and actions.

One such individual is Dr. Cynthia Calongne, better known to us in virtual worlds as Lyr Lobo.

Cynthia Calongne has over 20 years experience pioneering and conducting research in virtual worlds, virtual reality, emerging media, games, and computer science. Over this time she has mentored over 60 doctoral candidates throughout her tenure as a professor of computer science at Colorado Technical University. Previously she had 13 years experience as a software engineer.

Two words that best describe Cynthia Calongne are mentor and collaborator. Throughout her career she has consistently shared with others and invited them to join her on the journey of co-construction, learning, and exploration, providing help to all along the way. This is readily apparent when you look at her publication record: Over 100 publications in the field of emerging media (including virtual worlds), most in collaboration with others. The latest writing collaboration is Integrating an Awareness of Selfhood and Society into Virtual Learning (2017), edited with Andrew Stricker, Barbara Truman, and Fil Arenas, which includes a chapter written with Andrew Stricker: “Reconstructing Professional Identity of Educators to the Common Good”.

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Cynthia Calongne was part of the military team awarded the $25,000 first prize for the 2010 Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge. She has participated in collaborative grants across K12 to introduce the power of virtual worlds to children.

The communities of practice in which Cynthia Calongne participates are too numerous to mention and encompass locations across the physical world and metaverse, and participate she does. Since 2014, she has been involved with the Air University Metaverse research in virtual reality, 3D, and analytics. A 2016 VWBPE Immersive Experience explored this work in OpenSim.

Cynthia Calongne is the embodiment of an individual whose actions have shown consistent selfless service towards the promotion of learning, community, and educational practices; she continuously exemplifies the spirit of cooperative development within immersive environments. She is a virtual world aficionado capable of nearly effortlessly navigating across platforms and technology. Cynthia is also a scholar and researcher with an increasing body of literature that illustrates the investments she has made in her theorycraft and in her students’ investigations.

As an educator, Cynthia is a master teacher, capable of creating learning moments out of nearly any tool, situation, and context for a broad range of learners. Her agility and adaptability as a virtual world educator has made her available to more learners as a mentor to tackle challenging research questions than traditionally possible. Cynthia’s generosity with her time and talent attracts learners to virtual world venues.

It is for all these reasons, and more, that the VWBPE Organizational Committee proudly confirms Cynthia Calongne, virtual world’s Lyr Lobo, as the VWBPE 2017 Thinkerer Award recipient.