Well I have had a busy couple of weeks in the virtual and physical world talking about virtual worlds (VWs)! I was extremely honoured to have been able to visit The Freedom Project run by The University of Western Australia and the Virtual Ability group in Second life. This project saw wonderful creations from people with an ‘Invisible illness’ create a piece of art, film or machinima to show what Second Life means to them. Words can’t describe the amazing work best to go visit yourself before it disappears.
This project is of interested to me as a nurse but also as a health researcher and there are some similarities in my own PHD research. Last week I presented my first study findings in the physical world at the Royal College of Nursings Research Conference in Glasgow. My research focused on the Health Literacy skills of people in VWs and physical world health behaviour which I presented in Second Life late last year
Thanks to Liz Dorland for the picture.
However The Freedom Project is closer to my second study which investigates how being in social VW communities influences people’s ability to live with their long term health condition in the physical world. Interesting and very honest findings so far but only half way thorough so more on that later.
I have also been teaching in Sl and our cyberpsychology students have been visiting Virtual Ability Island
Last night I was on an invited panel at the Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education conference with my VWER colleagues, Beth O’Connell and Dr Shailey Minocha
Which was really enjoyable and it was great to see so many of the VWER community there as well as many others.
Anyway, back to the physical world work.
It will be good to see Dr Jane Guiller back in Second Life tomorrow with her honours-level students for her module in Cyberpsychology. If you want to catch up with Jane and find out what her students are up too check back on the previous post. Will be interesting to hear about the experiences of this group.
As we get ready to start a new semester at GCU I want to reflect on last years projects which have been happening on the islands. The University of Wisconsin had a very successful time with their project management simulation and will be staying for another year. However, Tom Sulzer will be taking over as the lead from Tony so we look forward to welcoming Tom. I hope to persuade Tony to present at Virtual World Education Roundtable (VWER) soon. Talking of VWER we have had a great 6 months hosting VWER at GCU, great discussions and presentations from Shailey Minocha, and DAvid W Deeds amongst others and have a few great presentations coming up soon.
I will be using our ward area for simulation again this year and the cyberpsychology students will be with Jane Guiller for another interesting semester. They continuously comment on how much they enjoy their VW projects.
So look forward to another semester and meeting more new folks.
At GCU we rent out land to other universities to help them remain in SL (if they wish) when they do not need a whole island for their projects. This allows GCU to remain in SL as well as building relationships with national and international institutions. In this project, Tony Keys of University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Information Systems Department describes how and why he chooses to use SL in a Project Management scenario;
“Learning about project management from a text, or even a single computer simulation, has its limits. Students never get to experience the number and richness of the interactions between the many roles in a project. Actually taking on a real life project is fraught with difficulties – one of the key success factors for a project is an experienced project manager, and the experience of a business working with students on a project would not always be positive.In our class we keep the real life project experience but remove the possible relationship problems with businesses by having the students work on a project in a virtual world. The goals of the Virtual World Project are to cultivate the students understanding of the key roles of communication and collaboration skills in successful project management.Each semester the project management class students, 24 – 28 of them, are formed into two 12-14 person project teams. Each project team has a number of roles – Project Manager, Project Manager Assistant, Analyst, Designer, Builder, Texturizer and Furnisher – each requiring a different skill set. The team is given a building project for a client, who is an avatar who exists in the virtual world. The team also has access to another avatar who plays the role of a resource manager. The many roles set up an environment where all need to play their part to ensure the success of the project. As a further incentive to collaborate, the two project teams have building projects that must physically connect, meaning that roles on a team must communicate with roles on the other team as well as their own team. Currently the students are assessed on a number of dimensions. Of course, they are assessed on the final deliverable, the buildings they have been asked to build. They are also required to write several reflection pieces over the life of the project commenting on how they solved problems that arose and also on the effective communications that occurred between them as they worked.For the instructor, the project is an exercise in restraint. The students need to fail in order to learn in many instances, and the environment that they are working in allows them to do this with little risk. The instructor needs to be a guide, but a guide who waves vaguely in the right direction rather than one who gives detailed instructions or solutions.In the end, the students experience frustration, bafflement, panic, success, achievement, pride and fun in varying amounts. This is our third semester in the current large project format, and it continues due to the positive feedback about the value of the project in developing their collaboration skills and increasing their understanding of the project management process”.
We wish Tony every success and hope he will remain at GCU for future semesters.
If you wish to rent land from us here at GCU please get in touch to discuss.
This is a webinar I gave on the results of an action research project I undertook using problem based learning scenarios in Second Life with Nurse Practitioners. If you have any questions please get in touch.
Exciting times at GCU Joe Essid is back soon with his great House of Usher project. University of Wisconsin are currently renting space for a construction project management scenario, more on this later. Our own students have been exploring the virtual world on the cyberpsychology and nursing modules.
I am also really excited to be bringing the Virtual World Education Roundtable (http://www.vwer.org/) to GCU in the next month. I am currently the Executive Director and we will be holding our weekly meeting on the public island. Hopefully we will kick of with a ‘bang’ as I have a few special guests lined up (more on that later).
We have also secured the educational discount so will remain in SL for the next two years. If you want to rent from us please contact me (Kali Pizzaro in SL) or email me Evelyn.McElhinney@gcu.ac.uk
So what is going on at GCU islands. Well, we are continuing to work with Indiana University in the use of virtual worlds for healthcare simulations (more on this soon). The University of Richmond will be back in a few months with Dr Joe Essid (Sl:Ignatius Onomatopoeia) and we continue to use VWs for healthcare simulation and cyberpsychology. We hope to be able to tell you more about a Social Work simulation soon.
As for my PhD I have now finished my first phase analysis (thank you so much to those who gave up their time to take part, you know who you are!). I am in the writing up stage of the findings and hope to be able to share these early next year. Thanks also to all the people who allowed me to leave a notecard giver on their island to aid recruitment.
Mayo Clinic health info day
My Colleague in the School of Health and Life Sciences Dr Jane Guiller has been using Second Life on a honours-level module in Cyberpsychology since 2009. Jane explains here how she uses Second life in the module.
“Cyberpsychology can be defined as the study of human behaviour and mental processes in the context of human-technology interaction. This is a rapidly growing sub-area of the discipline and this module was the first of its kind to be offered at a Scottish university and one of only a handful in the UK.
Use of Second Life is essential to the learning and teaching strategy used on this blended learning module as it allows student to experience many of the phenomena that we are discussing first hand. Students start off in by exploring the resources in the Saltire Centre in Second Life. There is a notable positive reaction to the Saltire Centre in Second Life. For most, it is a ‘strange new world’ and being able to navigate their way through a location that is familiar to them in real-life helps with their orientation. We also use this to discuss the phenomenology of the internet and reflect on how our experience of the Saltire Centre offline, influences our experience of it online.
Students go through the process of avatar creation near the start of the trimester, when we do our lectures on identity and self-presentation online. Following the lectures on Health Issues on the Internet and ELearning, we visit a number of relevant sources in Second Life including the Virtual Hallucinations Project, Autism Awareness Center and Virtual Ability Island: Disability Awareness and Support. We also visit other Departments of Psychology in Second Life, such as the problem-based learning resources at the University of Derby.
Group of students waiting to explore the Virtual Hallucinations Project in Second Life
We now have our very own private Cyberpsychology area on the GCU island where the students and I meet for synchronous online seminars, in addition to our asynchronous online seminars and ‘Adventures in Second Life’ blog in GCU Learn”.
If you want to contact Jane leave a comment or email her on J.Gullier@gcu.ac.uk
I am currently recruiting participants for my PhD. If you or someone you know has accessed health information in a 3D virtual world I would love to interview you or them for my study. This could be access to a sim with health information in the form of a game, quiz, slide show, interactive objects or a talk given by a healthcare practitioner/provider. The first phase pilot study is now complete. However, I am now recruting for the full full phase 1 study (if you have already agreed to take part and have not been interviewed I will be contacting you soon). This Phase 1 study will include being interviewed in Second Life in a private area of Glasgow Caledonian University Second Life Sim. I am particularly looking for people from UK or Europe as well as the rest of the world. If you want more information please IM me in Second Life (Kali Pizzaro) or pick up the information from
or email me at Evelyn.McElhinney@gcu.ac.uk